AFP Member Spotlight with Jennifer Jeffress!
Periodically, we shine a spotlight on one of our chapter members with a series of questions. We hope you enjoy learning more about the members of AFP Greater Madison.
If you'd like to nominate someone to be featured in our next member spotlight, let us know!
Jennifer Jeffress, Executive Director, Madison Public Library Foundation
Tell us about your current role.
I’ve served as the Executive Director at Madison Public Library Foundation since December 2010. The foundation supports programs, collections, and facilities at Madison’s public libraries. I provide strategic leadership and direction for the foundation—I work with the Board of Directors, other volunteers, and foundation staff to secure funds through major gifts, events, direct mail campaigns, and planned giving.
I also work directly with staff and leaders at Madison Public Library to make sure that the foundation’s fundraising work is aligned with the library’s current needs and long-term goals.
How and why are you involved with AFP and AFP Greater Madison?
I became involved in AFP when it was still NSFRE—the National Society of Fundraising Executives—as a young professional in New York City. I was on the board in New York City and worked on the Fundraising Day New York committee. When I moved to Madison, I got involved here, first as a member of the program committee and then as President. We established Fundraising Day Wisconsin in collaboration with the Milwaukee chapter of AFP as part of my work in the program area.
How have you benefited from your membership with and involvement in AFP?
I always learn something through AFP programs, whether I’m attending the monthly meetings in Madison, Fundraising Day Wisconsin, or the International Conference.
What would you tell fundraisers who are just getting started or looking to grow?
Find a mentor. There are people who I think are smart and have good ideas and if I am questioning something, I always appreciate having someone to turn to with questions.
What about philanthropy is most surprising to you?
I think a lot of fundraisers wish they were on the other side, giving money away. From friends who have worked in corporate or family foundations, I don’t think it is a glamourous as it looks.
What topic do you think needs to be addressed in philanthropy today?
Operating support. I think we are shy about saying we need support and I think we don’t talk to donors effectively about the need for operating support. I hope we can move that forward. Part of it is rent or supplies, but part of operating support is salary for staff. We employ people who do good work for our community, and nonprofits are an economic driver in our community.
What’s a book you read recently? Do you recommend it?
I recently read Rodham: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld. It is basically historic fiction about Hillary Rodham’s life if she had not married Bill Clinton. It was fascinating.