Learning How To "Sell The Gum"

Ellen Wilkinson“Asking for money is like offering a piece of gum.  Some people will say yes, and others will politely refuse because you don’t have the flavor they are looking for.  And that’s OK! Find the people that want your gum.”

These are the wise words of my mentor Michael Frohna, CFRE.  When I learned I was matched with the president of Junior Achievement I felt invigorated and intimidated.  That someone with so much experience, the state leader of a national nonprofit who has a million other things on his plate, would take the time to show me the fundamentals of fund development, blew me away.  Since connecting, he has tutored me on topics such as making the pitch to program officers, improving donor stewardship, coordinating grant teams, and engaging our board.  His wisdom has been invaluable and encouragement inspirational.

I could sing the praises of AFP all day long.  The professional development sessions I’ve attended have helped me learn essential elements of the trade.  The grants group has connected me with other professionals, providing a forum to collaborate and a space to make friends.  Above all, I thank AFP for connecting me with professionals like Michael, for providing a space to share ideas and problem solve, and for serving as a foundation for best practices.

The fellowship and training provided by the Association of Fundraising Professionals has been crucial to my professional development and learning how to “sell the gum.” 

Ellen Wilkinson, MA
Grants Coordinator, St. Anthony School of Milwaukee
AFP Member and 2017 Fall Mentee