Why I Applied to be a Fellow

When I first sat down to write my statement of interest for the AFP Fellowship in Inclusion and Philanthropy, I was very intimidated. Although I am one of those people who like to set goals and create personal plans, I had not thought ahead in the longer-term.

Tasked with trying to see the big picture, I began to think about what sparked my interest in fundraising in the first place to help inform how I wanted to leave my mark. It was a valuable exercise in reflecting, evaluation and planning, one that usually falls off my to-do list as more immediate or less intensive tasks move up.

As we’re starting our journey as Fellows, I thought I would share my statement [with some minor edits] as to why I applied, and what I hope to get out of it the program.

I am passionate about fundraising and aspire to be a leader in this field. To me, fundraising represents possibility and opportunity—to encourage progress, create impact, give back and connect to a spectrum of causes—both locally and globally.

Perhaps a little too inspired by Michael Jackson’s Heal the World, I realized at a young age that I wanted to “make the world a better place.” As ambiguous as this dream was, it gave me the drive to better understand the world through my education; I pursued an undergraduate degree in Global Development Studies to find where I fit in. Fundraising is not a profession I fell into; it is one I actively chose as I feel that it is a platform through which I can contribute to change in issues I care about. With experience, I have come to understand that becoming a changemaker is a dynamic process, requiring vision and mentorship. The Fellowship Program is an ideal avenue to evolve my professional journey as a fundraiser and to ignite new opportunities to make a greater impact.

I am particularly excited by this program, because, as a Kuwait-born Bengali-Canadian, my upbringing has given me an expanded worldview that allows me to understand the nuances of diversity, the necessity of social and cultural sensitivities and the benefits of an inclusive community. Through the Fellowship Program, I hope to learn from the best fundraisers. I want to gain new perspectives to further my knowledge and better understand what it takes to be a leader in the field.

In the next five years, I am interested in innovation within the sector to meaningfully engage corporate and individual donors. I want to learn so much – from how to effectively communicate messaging and start dialogues to using trust to build strong relationships, to how to enhance my persuasion skills. I would also like to assume more management responsibilities and be working towards or have completed my CFRE designation. It is important to me to be in an environment where I am constantly learning and growing, and I hope to take on challenging and interesting projects. Ultimately, I would like to get more involved in strategic planning to support organizations with developing a strong foundation to help achieve their mandates.

Since entering the field, I have met some incredible fundraisers and mentors, who have taken the time to connect with me, share their stories and provide insights. I am excited at the possibility of expanding this network, and I hope one day to be able to give back to this program and the fundraising community at large. I believe very much in learning not only from mentors, but also from peers and other industries and I think knowledge exchange is a powerful tool for generating ideas. I hope to share my experiences and become a part of the discussion around the importance of diversity and inclusion in philanthropy.

The Fellowship Program will help shape and actualize my vision for “making the world a better place.” While I am still in the early stages of carving out my path, I know one thing for certain: I want my legacy to be about people. I had the opportunity to work with marginalized groups through volunteer work at a domestic abuse shelter in Kington and through an internship serving homeless populations in London, England. Through those experiences, what has stuck with me is the reminder that no matter how diverse our backgrounds, we remain all connected through one simple fact: we are human. I hope to use fundraising as a vehicle for improving the human experience and I think this Fellowship could provide me with the opportunity to learn how to make this a reality.