The History of ACF

1979  Fifty-six development officers met in St. Louis hoping to create a broad network of Lutheran development and public relations executives by providing educational training and camaraderie.

1980 – Charter conference held in Atlanta, electing Ed Bertram as the first president. The educational cornerstone of each year is the annual International Educational Conference, which provides an in-depth exploration of topics in multiple disciplines for attendees.

1982  ALDE and the Lutheran Public Relations and Development Guild (LPRDG) merged to create an association committed to enhancing the development of fundraising and public relations professionals.

1986  Victor Mennike served as ALDE’s first part-time executive. The first Compensation Survey was created, coordinated by Marlys Taege.

1987  The Association was incorporated. Regional chapters were developed to promote education and provide opportunities for Christian fellowship among its members at the local level. ALDE honored excellence with awards. The first of these awards, the Virgil Anderson Award, was established in 1987 in honor of LPRDG’s founder and guiding spirit for 15 years.

1988  The former Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL), now Thrivent Financial, established a tradition of providing scholarships for conference newcomers.

1989  The former Lutheran Brotherhood (LB), now also Thrivent Financial, began providing grants that afforded ALDE new opportunities to feature internationally known presenters at its conferences. Concordia Mutual Life and Lutheran Life of Canada also provided scholarship grants for ALDE members. Strong partnerships are also valued with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and their foundations.

1991  The first Strategic Planning Task Force convened, resulting in a mission statement and goals being developed for the Association.

1993 – JoAnne Heltner became ALDE’s first full-time executive.

1995  The ALDE Endowment Fund and ALDE Annual Fund were launched to increase financial vitality and enable ALDE to offer cutting edge resources, education and programs.

1997 – ALDE introduced a survey course for the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) exam. Members working in communications are encouraged to pursue the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) certification.

2001  Phyllis Castens Wiederhoeft became ALDE’s second full-time executive director.

2003 – Second Strategic Plan adopted, bringing about a new structure and new goals and strategies for continuing to strengthen and enhance the Association.

2007 – ALDE hosted four webinars. Podcasts of top-rated educational sessions were offered, and today the top breakouts from each conference are made available to members as podcasts. A new membership category – Volunteer Leader membership – was developed.

2010 – ALDE began broadcasting nine webinars annually. The College2Career program was implemented to recruit from colleges interns interested in development and give them an introduction to the field. The affordable CFRE Study Days course began to be offered each fall.

2012 – Understanding the difficulty of attending major conferences due to budget cuts and time constraints, ALDE introduced Hybrid Conferencing, an affordable option to virtually attend select conference sessions.

2015 After much discussion, collaboration and work, ALDE revealed a brand refresh with a new logo and positioning statement: Inspiring, educating and mentoring the Christian fundraising community to spark generosity for mission.  The new IGNITE conference brand was also introduced.

2015-2017 – Through a dynamic partnership with the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Indianapolis, Indiana, ALDE conducted a survey, study, and report on "Fundraising as Profession and Vocation: An Inquiry About Faith and the Practice of Fundraising."

2019 – Laurie Brill began serving as the third full-time Executive Director of ALDE.

2022  ALDE became ACF, the Association for Christian Fundraising.

TODAY ACF began as an all-volunteer organization, and the spirit of that tradition continues with more than 20 percent of members giving their time and talents to help lead us. With the 2022 shift to our new identity as ACF, we have a renewed focus to provide a collegial setting and Christian perspective for professionals working in fundraising and related fields. We aspire to be the primary resource for those who value the practice of fundraising through the lens of Christian values for nonprofit organizations, and those complementary businesses that support them. Please watch the video for the full announcement from ACF Executive Director Laurie Brill.

Jay Bleeke Winners 2015

Past Presidents

2021-2023 David Fuerst
2019-2021 Christine Zrinsky
2017-2019 Jason Gerdes, CFRE
2015-2017 Karen E. Pease, CFRE
2013-2015 Beth Nelson Chase, CFRE
2011-2013 Pat Bilow, CFRE

2009-2011 Douglas Page
2007-2009 Thomas M. Buck
2005-2007 David M. Kahle
2003-2005 Michelle L. Janssen, CFRE
2001-2003 David M. Benson
1999-2001 Alan C. Zacharias, CFRE
1997-1999 Brenda J. Moore, CFRE
1995-1997 Michael W. Butterfield, CFRE
1993-1995 James A. Jenson
1991-1993 Fred A. Bleeke
1989-1991 Frank P. Belden, CFRE
1987-1989 Marlys S. Taege
1985-1987 Donovan J. Palmquist
1983-1985 Immanuel R. Janssen
1982-1983 Arvid E. Bidne
1981-1982 Lloyd R. Probasco, CFRE
1980-1981 Edward G. Bertram