Teaching the most feared group in America

Week before last, Amy and I taught AFP's Fundamentals of Fundraising to 15 members of the Development, Marketing and Operations staff at an Islamic emergency response organization.

Globally there are approximately 1.6B Muslims (this figure is based on the Pew Research Center’s most recent estimate), and roughly forty-four Islamic countries. Although Muslims vary in their particular religious practices and cultural beliefs from region to region, most follow the same basic tenets of Islam.

So when two Anglo teachers hailing from Maryland and Michigan showed up, guess what happened? Every single person, student and teacher alike, had stories to share about challenging donors and kind colleagues. Each student asked thoughtful and thought provoking questions about everything from measuring successful fundraising performance to addressing the growing number of major donors who want to restrict their gifts to appropriate responses when a philanthropist says “No” to your solicitation.

Our students joked with, debated, discussed, challenged and supported each other – and us. And on breaks, we talked about everything from family to pop culture to great restaurants to Mipsters (look it up!)…you know, the kinds of conversations people have with one another every day the world over.

Whether dressed in a suit, jeans, headscarves, or a Salwar Kameez, as the prolific and profound Maya Angelou declared in Our Human Family, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” Indeed.

P.S. Recently, an innovative #actualmuslims anti-Isis billboard campaign was launched, which contains a powerful quote from the Quran: “Life is Sacred”. I encourage you to check it out on Upworthy. In the meantime, let us remember to celebrate our differences while embracing our many commonalities – sharing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness together.