Meet Rikki Starich Harry: An AFP vet joins AFPSEWI

Photo of Rikki and two other AFP members visiting at AFP social hourApril member social welcomed her and dozens more

When Rikki Starich Harry moved to the Milwaukee area in July it didn’t take long before the Milwaukee area felt like home. Rikki has spent her entire career in fundraising and in her words, “I love my work!” 

“My entire career has been in the world of fundraising. I joke with people that my fundraising career began when I was in the girl scouts and I sold girl scout cookies” says Rikki. 

Shortly after Rikki’s move to Milwaukee she found the perfect fit --- Development Manager, Individual Giving, with Sojourner.  With the growth that Sojourner has recently seen, Rikki’s focus is on increasing Sojourner’s individual giving program by cultivating and growing their donor base while stewarding their already existing donor relationships.  “We have a lot of really loyal individual donors” says Rikki. “My job is a great mix of annual giving and major giving work.”

With a varied background and a wealth of fundraising experience, what continues to draw Rikki to the world of philanthropy is knowing that every minute of every day what she puts into her job makes a difference for people in need. “If I see a problem in the world, I want to help fix it.  I love hearing people’s stories and sharing them. Whether it’s a client’s story that I am sharing with a donor, or a donor’s story about something important to them --- I love connecting donors to the cause that makes a difference in their lives.”

Rikki is no stranger to AFP.  Being a member since 2010 she has spent time on the board of the Northeast WI chapter, served on the communications and marketing committee, and has volunteered her time with numerous other activities, including promoting National Philanthropy Day -- All of which have been wonderful ways to get involved and to help her local chapter at the same time.  

When Rikki recently transferred her AFP membership to the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter she wanted to get involved locally. “This chapter has been super welcoming” says Rikki.  “Sometimes it’s really hard to start networking when you move to a new area. That was not the case when I came to Milwaukee.”

At Rikki’s first local AFP luncheon, a chapter member reached out to her to have lunch together and Rikki said, “It was a really nice feeling.”  After the luncheon Rikki was paired up with another member who shared some of the ins and outs of fundraising in the Milwaukee area and these conversations actually lead Rikki to apply for her current position at Sojourner. “It has just been a really great experience” said Rikki. 

Rikki recently attended the Membership 101 event – Not as a member new to AFP but rather to learn what her new chapter had to offer. “Being able to hear what’s important to this chapter was great for me and everyone has been very welcoming” mentions Rikki.  “I was able to learn about local committees, AFP Connect, and It was a great refresher for me.  It was also a reminder to me that AFP membership is so worth it -- There is really a lot available to get involved with.”

When reflecting on her fundraising career and what has been most valuable to her along the way, the letters “A-F-P” seem to be a thread weaving much of it together.  Rikki has a master’s degree in fundraising but she says, “AFP has been the single best investment of my career. The networking, the committees, and feeling like I have the opportunity to be a leader and to play a role in shaping the future in fundraising is what has been of such value to me.”  In the words of Rikki Starich Harry, “AFP is the best.” 

So, the next time you are at an AFP luncheon or at a conference for a day of learning, look for Rikki to say “Hello” and to introduce yourself.  Chances are, you will find her there.