Leaders in local fundraising raise awareness for the career

Courtney Weatherby-Hunter and Annie Tutt
Courtney Weatherby-Hunter and Annie Tutt

Regardless of the title – development director, charitable gifts administrator, director of funding – the people who fill those roles all have something in common. They are professional fundraisers, specifically to generate philanthropic support for a wide variety of charitable institutions.

Guided by a 59-year-old organization – the Association of Fundraising Professionals – people, like Courtney Weatherby-Hunter and Annie Tutt, who choose to make a career of gently twisting arms are raising awareness not just about their nonprofits but about their profession.

Weatherby-Hunter, president of the AFP’s First Coast Chapter, said she joined the Chapter in 2008, the same year as Tutt, immediate past-president. Both residents of San Marco, the women’s journeys into fundraising had different beginnings. 

“I started my development journey as a student fundraiser for Dance at the University of Florida. I have been a development professional for almost 16 years,” said Tutt, while Weatherby-Hunter said she had always “dabbled in it” since her first job as a case worker at Guardian ad Litem but has been a professional fundraiser now for 10 years.

Although she doesn’t wield the gavel now, Tutt said she is passionate about increasing the recognition of AFP’s role in hosting National Philanthropy Day. “I see the NPD event as a great way to encourage new organizations to get involved with the Chapter, grow membership and highlight the incredible work of even more local nonprofits,” she said.

Weatherby-Hunter’s focus is to have leaders in the community see the members as experts. “Our Chapter members’ roles in nonprofits range from communications, major gifts, corporate giving, planned giving, direct mail, board development, executive leadership, etc.,” she said. “We have a broad membership base and I would love to see our chapter as the ‘go to’ when companies want to give, form a board, or need a speaker on development.”

She plans to implement that goal through teamwork. “Our Chapter could not succeed without the people sitting around the table. We are a diverse, outgoing, fun group who truly values each other and our goals. It has been key to my planning for my presidency this year. I met with each one and talked through why and how they can impact our Chapter. Making this all happen takes each one of us.”  

One of the reasons Tutt said she loves AFP is its diversity. “We continue to work to increase diversity and inclusion. I enjoyed creating strong collaboration between board members and watching powerful connections and relationships grow between our members. The collaboration is very more meaningful because so many different ideas and perspectives are around the table,” said Tutt, who also noted she enjoys serving as a mentor and a coach. “It has been a place of joy in my career and in my AFP involvement. Welcoming those that are new to the nonprofit sector or the fundraising field and sharing my knowledge and experience is the one way I can continue to contribute regardless of my AFP leadership roles.” 

For Weatherby-Hunter, contributing to the long-term sustainability of the development community and the Chapter comes through teaching others that fundraising is a skill and a legitimate career choice. “Colleges are just recently offering classes and degrees in development,” she said. “My generation sort of ‘fell into it’ and learned along the way. AFP helped each of us in that way. The best way to sustain it is to continue involving not just our membership but the greater community.”

For those on the fence about joining the AFP, Tutt offers some good advice. “The greatest value of the Chapter is in the people you meet. These professional connections and friendships are a virtual team that is always in your corner. They will take your calls when you need support, they celebrate your biggest wins with you, and they challenge you to continue to grow,” she said.

And for members who are not sure about taking on leadership roles, Weatherby-Hunter said, “You are not alone as a leader. You have an entire team behind you. Many of us are a team of one in our various organizations. It can get lonely. Our Chapter is anything but lonely. I encourage our members to be as involved as they want to be but know that we in leadership are always there to talk through their first ask, bond over a troublesome board meeting or share our worst days.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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