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  • Debra A. Gill

A Lifelong Learner

Are you, or aren’t you?



I enjoyed being in school but not as much as I enjoy not being in school. While traditional classrooms were fine, over the years I have found myself far more engaged in learning from actual life experiences and the plethora of available educational resources – especially in this digital age.


True lifelong learners continually add to their knowledge base and grow intellectually, professionally, and personally while seeking out new ways of learning on a regular basis.

So, what are some of the tried-and-true education possibilities for mature adults? Given my area of expertise, philanthropy, I’m going to dedicate some space to my go to favorites. All of these offer free options in addition to the extensive benefits of paid memberships including webinars, podcasts, blogs, books and more.


This month, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) is hosting its International Conference in person for the first time in several years. I love conferences because they bring industry leaders together to share their wisdom and the networking opportunities are rampant. My rule of thumb is to come with three problems I need solved. I limit myself to three because otherwise it’s easy to return to work overwhelmed in an attempt to implement every idea picked up at the seminars.


The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) is an exceptional source for those seeking to advance in this profession. What I like about AFP is that there are typically chapters relatively accessible in any area and the organization champions the highest industry standards. If you haven’t brushed up on the Donor Bill of Rights lately, now is a great time to click and read.


For anyone dedicated to the noble field of philanthropy, obtaining and maintaining Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) status is a must. According to CFRE, “This voluntary credential is recognized worldwide and signifies a confident, ethical fundraising professional.” CFRE is generally preferred by employers and distinguishes candidates from their uncertified peers. It’s also personally validating to include CFRE after your name and know that you have worked hard to achieve this status.


Every not-for-profit depends on its board of directors, and BoardSource offers excellent insights into purpose-driven board leadership. The BoardSource SmartBrief is a free e-newsletter for nonprofit decision makers that provides high level quick reads on topics relevant to any professional or volunteer.


Advisory Board provides insights specific to the healthcare field. The electronic daily briefing keeps readers informed and up to date on current issues, trends, and studies. Often hospital and health system leaders subscribe to this robust resource, making it more accessible to fund raising specialists wishing to access the paid subscription information.


The Nonprofit Times has been an information source for the nonprofit sector for 31 years, nearly as long as I’ve been in this career. Offering both digital and print formats, professionals of any rank can find information to help them reach career goals and achieve more for their organizations.


To keep this list succinct, the last suggestion I will feature is The Chronicle of Philanthropy, another longstanding periodical delivering the latest industry topics and insights. Philanthropy Today is a free daily newsletter that compiles the latest philanthropy news in one accessible click.


There are infinitely more options to further your knowledge in this and any field. While no one has time to read everything that pops into their email or mailbox, selectively browsing for relevant headlines and topics will keep you informed and up to speed on current trends, issues, and industry happenings.


I don’t know about you, but I find the most interesting people are those who know they don’t have all of the answers but are curious enough to try.


Alliance Philanthropy’s philosophy is to inspire staff, volunteers, and board members for all types of not-for-profit organizations to raise funds enthusiastically and passionately - at maximum levels - in support of their missions.



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