AFP Member Spotlight: Ngozi Robinson
AFP Member Spotlights are a recurring series of interviews with AFP members, highlighting the unique individuals and career paths that exist within the fundraising profession. If you know an inspiring fundraising professional who deserves to be featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this Member Spotlight, we interviewed Ngozi Robinson who shared with us how becoming an AFP member and participating in affinity groups helped her find a community of peers to provide practical, actionable advice, particularly now, as she transitions into her first director-level position.
Q: How did you start your career in the fundraising profession and what led you there?
A: In 1999, while pursuing my first master’s degree, I had an incredible moment of realization. I had written a grant proposal for a project I was working on, and my professor commented, "Clearly, you've written grants before." Despite having no prior experience, that feedback sparked a fire within me, inspiring me to cultivate this newfound skill.
As fate would have it, my first job out of graduate school was as a project associate on a race relations initiative. To continue funding my position, I had to rely on my grant writing abilities. It was a challenging time, but my talent and drive to succeed pushed me onward and upward.
Looking back, I am grateful for that moment of feedback and the opportunity it presented. It taught me the power of recognizing and developing our strengths, no matter how unexpected they may be. With determination and hard work, we can achieve great things and unlock our full potential.
Q: What are you doing in your current role?
A: As the director of development for the Community Education Group, a health equity nonprofit, I am filled with passion and drive to create a lasting impact in the lives of those we serve. With just three months under my belt in this director-level position (my first!), I am eager to take on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
At the core of my mandate is a deep commitment to diversifying our funding sources, building corporate partnerships, and streamlining the funding application process across departments. Additionally, I am dedicated to providing our individual donors with the utmost care and attention they deserve.
To achieve these goals, I lead a small but mighty team of two individuals, and I am proud to have secured AFP memberships for them as one of my first orders of business. As we work together, I bring a professional and focused approach to our work, leveraging my expertise in development and fundraising to drive growth and success for our organization.
With my passion for health equity and my unwavering commitment to our mission, I am confident that we will achieve great things together and make a meaningful impact on our community.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the fundraising field?
A: Nothing gets me more excited than getting a resounding "yes" that propels important work forward. As someone with a fiery passion for writing, I thrive on the challenge of crafting compelling proposals that make funders sit up and take notice.
But that's not all — I also have a love for building and creating systems that help people unleash their full potential. There's nothing quite like the thrill of designing fluid systems that enable teams to do their absolute best work, and I get a real kick out of seeing the results of my efforts in action.
Whether I'm brainstorming a winning pitch or revamping an organization's workflows, I bring a contagious energy and a relentless pursuit of excellence to everything I do. I firmly believe that anything is possible with the right combination of creativity, hard work, and determination — and I'm always up for a challenge that lets me put those beliefs to the test.
Q: When and why did you decide to become an AFP member?
A: After completing my second round of graduate school, I was ready to jump back into the world of development and I landed an amazing opportunity with a small, faith-based nonprofit.
Thanks to the AFP fellowship program, I was able to become a member and dive headfirst into the world of fundraising. I had the opportunity to participate in AFP's two-day Fundamentals of Fundraising Course, and let me tell you, it was a game-changer! I learned so much and was able to immediately apply my newfound knowledge and skills to my work.
But that was just the beginning — AFP has continued to offer an amazing array of learning opportunities throughout the year, and I've taken advantage of so many of them. From workshops and webinars to networking events and more, there's always something exciting and valuable happening within the AFP community.
I can't even begin to express how grateful I am for the opportunities that AFP has provided me. This organization has truly helped me to grow both personally and professionally, and I can't wait to see where this exciting journey will take me next!
Q: How has AFP helped you in your career?
A: I am incredibly grateful for the role that AFP has played in my professional development. Thanks to this organization, I have had countless opportunities to expand my network, acquire new skills, and stay informed about the latest trends and best practices in fundraising.
Perhaps most importantly, AFP has given me the chance to connect face-to-face with local funders — an invaluable experience that has helped me to better understand their perspectives and priorities. All these benefits have been instrumental in shaping my career and helping me to achieve my goals.
As I reflect on all that AFP has done for me, I am filled with gratitude and a deep sense of appreciation. This organization truly is a cornerstone of the fundraising community, and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it.
Q: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I am beyond proud to be in my current position — it's the culmination of years of hard work and dedication in the fundraising field. As the leader of Community Education Group's development efforts, I wake up every day with a sense of purpose and passion, ready to make a difference in the world.
The opportunity to raise money for causes that truly matter is nothing short of exhilarating. I take immense pride in knowing that my work is helping to create positive change in our community and beyond. It's a humbling feeling to be a part of something so much bigger than myself, and I feel incredibly lucky to have found a career that allows me to make a meaningful impact.
Looking back on my journey thus far, I am filled with a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I am proud of the progress I've made, and I'm even more excited about what the future holds. With each new challenge that comes my way, I'm eager to rise to the occasion and continue making a difference in the world.
Q: How has networking with peers in your vertical through the affinity groups benefited you?
A: I am deeply grateful for the support and guidance I've received through my AFP affinity groups. These groups have been an invaluable resource for me, providing practical and actionable advice that has helped me to grow both personally and professionally.
Having a community of colleagues who are there to bounce ideas off of and offer feedback is truly essential in this field. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found such a supportive and knowledgeable group of peers through AFP.
As I continue to navigate my career path, I'm excited to explore the possibility of finding a mentor. I know that with the help of AFP, I'll be able to connect with someone who can offer valuable insights and guidance (Is that person you?), and I'm grateful for the opportunity to do so.
Q: What advice do you have for other fundraising professionals, or people interested in getting into the field?
A: One of the most inspiring things about working in the fundraising field is the incredible sense of community that exists within it. No matter where you are in your career, it's essential to remember that you don't have to go it alone.
That's where AFP comes in — it's a ready-made solution that can help you take your fundraising game to the next level with so much more ease. Whether you're looking for concrete suggestions, warm connections, or just a supportive community to help you along the way, AFP has everything you need to succeed.
I know from personal experience just how transformative it can be to find your community within AFP. It only takes one suggestion or connection to open up a whole world of possibilities and help you discover an even better way to do this good work.
So, if you're feeling overwhelmed or uncertain, I encourage you to reach out and connect with the incredible network of professionals within AFP. You never know what kind of inspiration, guidance, or support you might find - and it just might be the key to unlocking your full potential as a fundraiser.