Barbara J. Coury, CFRE Named AFP’s 2017 CCS Outstanding Fundraising Professional

Please join CFRE International in congratulating Barbara J. Coury, CFRE, on her selection by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) as the 2017 recipient of the CCS Outstanding Fundraising Professional award. The Outstanding Fundraising Professional award is the highest honor that AFP bestows upon its members, recognizing effective, creative and stimulating leadership as well as the practice and promotion of ethical fundraising.

Coury, who first achieved CFRE certification in 2004, serves as regional chief development officer for the American Red Cross in the state of Indiana and is also a recognized leader on a national level at the American Red Cross. Not only has she helped raise millions of dollars—the Indiana fundraising team received the organization’s top award in 2016 for its significant increase in fundraising revenue—she has been asked to serve on several task forces examining fundraising productivity and major gift officer retention.  “I often think I have the best job in the world,” said Coury. “Being a fundraiser is less about an occupation and more about following a passion”.

Coury’s extraordinary achievements at the Red Cross are just the latest in a long line of successful fundraising roles at a variety of different institutions. She began her career in 1998 serving as the assistant director of development for the Purdue University Krannert School of Management.

“When I began my fundraising career I had zero experience, which was not uncommon in the 1990s. The demand for fundraising professionals far outpaced the supply.”  She says that “within a year, we had a new president and plans to embark on a $1.5 billion capital campaign. There was a rapid professionalization of the practice and fundraising performance expectations that, while very exciting, called for outside resources.  Both AFP and CRFE International helped us bridge the gap by identifying educational resources and best practices within our profession.”

The focus on professionalism and ethical practice of fundraising that Coury experienced at Purdue has stayed with her throughout her career.  In fact, said Coury, “a number of my current team members tease me when I start a sentence with “When I was at Purdue…” but Purdue got it right and I am very grateful for this.”

Coury takes a 3-pronged approach to professional development for her fundraising staff and feels she owes them this commitment for choosing to stay on her team.  “We all know that being a gift officer can be a revolving door as organizations who fail to develop talent will quickly lose it.  I’m grateful for the longevity of my team and I communicate the following expectation before hiring: once you qualify to sit for the CFRE examination, commit to doing so.”

Coury says that “obtaining a CFRE is not an easy thing to do, but nonprofits trust the quality of this credential. It elevates fundraisers possessing a CFRE above those who do not and the credential continues to play a substantial role in professionalizing and legitimizing our profession.”  In addition to achieving CFRE certification, team members are also expected to belong to AFP and to serve on a nonprofit board with a mission that speaks to their heart.  “I hope every fundraiser will consider adopting these three strategies for their own professional development and ask about resources to accomplish these before accepting their next position, said Coury.

Coury has served as an instructor for fundraisers working to achieve their CFRE credential and is an author, having researched and co-written the Giving to Health-Related Organizations chapter for Giving USA in 2011, as well as an article for AFP’s magazine, Advancing Philanthropy, about occupational stress in fundraising.  She has been  a dedicated volunteer and advocate for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  In 2004 she joined the local board in Indianapolis and became board president, helping to increase fundraising revenue from volunteers.  She was subsequently asked to be one of 11 individuals from across the U.S. to serve on its national Affiliate Advisory Council and help shape the ten-year vision for affiliates and the national headquarters.

“Barb is an extraordinary fundraiser—her success speaks for itself, and part of this honor recognizes her amazing ability to work with donors and inspire people to help others,” says Jason Lee, President and CEO of AFP. “But this award also reflects her fierce dedication to fundraising and philanthropy—not just as her profession but as part of her life. She’s a volunteer, an author, a mentor, and an incredible leader. These are the skills that make up an outstanding fundraising professional, and all of us at AFP are proud to honor her.”

Coury will receive her award on April 30, 2017, at AFP’s International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco, Calif.