Thank You Cummings Foundation!

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Massachusetts Chapter (AFP MA) is one of 140 local nonprofits to learn that they will receive grants of $100,000 to $500,000 each through the Cummings Foundation’s $25 million Grant Program. Waltham-based AFP MA was chosen from a total of 590 applicants during a competitive review process. AFP MA will receive $100,000 over four years.

AFP MA will use the funds to train individuals from up to 20 small and mid-sized nonprofits each year in the skills needed to be more effective at fundraising for their organizations. Organizations to be assisted will be based in Suffolk, Middlesex, and Essex counties.  This is the first time AFP MA has received a grant from the Cummings Foundation.

AFP MA was established in 1983 to advocate for philanthropy and to train professionals in the art and science of fundraising for nonprofits. It is part of the national Association for Fundraising Professionals and spans all categories of fundraising, including philanthropy for hospitals, educational institutions, social services agencies, and the arts. Nationwide, AFP has more than 38,000 members, and the Massachusetts affiliate is the 10th largest in the country.

Limited pool of experienced fundraising professionals

“Fundraising is a profession that, like any other, requires a set of skills and expertise for an individual to be successful,” says Kate Villa, president of AFP MA. “Yet, there is a limited pool of experienced fundraising professionals. Many non-profits must therefore rely on individuals with limited prior fundraising knowledge and experience to raise the thousands and millions of dollars they need each year to provide the vital services they offer.”

The Cummings Foundation grant will enable AFP MA to provide training free of charge over the next four years to individuals at 20 small and mid-sized non-profits each year (80 in total) on topics including major gift cultivation and solicitation; foundation and corporation fundraising; developing an annual fund program; and donor stewardship. The grant will also fund networking opportunities to connect those new to fundraising with more experienced fundraising professionals.  Applicants to the program will be selected via a competitive process.

“We are so grateful to Cummings for providing this funding. We believe this effort will have a multiplier effect, ultimately helping 80 organizations become more successful raising the money they need to survive and thrive.” says Villa, who in addition to her role as the volunteer president of AFP MA is corporate vice president of CCS Fundraising.

Cummings: A democratic approach to philanthropy

Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the areas where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 10 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“We aim to help meet the needs of people in all segments of our local community,” says Cummings Foundation Executive Director Joel Swets. “It is the incredible organizations we fund, however, that do the actual daily work to empower our neighbors, educate our children, fight for equity, and so much more.”

With the help of about 80 volunteers, the Foundation first identified 140 organizations to receive grants of at least $100,000 each. Among the winners were first-time recipients like AFP-MA, as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings Foundation grants. Forty of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 each.

“We have adopted a democratic approach to philanthropy, which empowers an impressive roster of dedicated volunteers to decide more than half of all our grant winners each year,” says Swets. “We benefit from their diverse backgrounds and perspectives; they benefit from a meaningful and fulfilling experience; and the nonprofits often benefit from increased exposure and new advocates.”

This year’s grant recipients represent a wide variety of causes, including social justice, homelessness prevention, affordable housing, education, violence prevention, and food insecurity. The nonprofits are spread across 43 different cities and towns.

The complete list of 140 grant winners plus more than 800 previous recipients is available at

Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $300 million to Greater Boston nonprofits.


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