Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance

Chapter Spotlight: Buffalo Chapter


Prepared by Nicole Bzibziak of the AFWA Buffalo Chapter

AFWA_Buffalo-12.14For the Buffalo Chapter of the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance December is a very special month.  For many it’s a time of hustle and bustle but for us, we take an evening to recognize those that are less fortunate during our annual Holiday Charity Dinner.  Our 2014 event benefited the Buffalo chapter of Dress for Success.  We were proud to be able to donate over $2,300 to this organization which promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire and career support.

We begin planning for the Annual Holiday Charity Dinner in early September by sifting through suggested charities and venues.  Letters and emails are sent to local businesses to  gather donations for the basket raffle portion of the evening.  Our donors get very creative with designing baskets for this event!  Items donated include gift cards, alcohol, event tickets, and theme baskets.  The Buffalo Chapter Board Members also donate a special basket each year.  This year the Board donated a gift card tree.   Approximately 80 individuals composed of members, co-workers of members, and family attend annually.  Following a delicious dinner, a representative of the charity speaks to the group regarding their mission and then the baskets are raffled off.  The event is fun way to help others and remember the true meaning of the holiday season.

As word spreads about our event we have seen a increase in our fundraising.  In prior years we have donated to Girls 2 Women,  Madonna House of Niagara Falls, and the International Institute of Buffalo Human Trafficking Victim Services Department.   Plans are already beginning to take shape for 2015’s event and hopefully we’ll be able to continue to increase our success of giving another Buffalo charity a very special gift.

So how does the Buffalo Chapter pull of such a successful event year after year?

For starters they have a great succession plan for their Board Members and volunteers.  The workload for their Chapter is divided among co-chairs. For example, instead of one Programming Chair planning 9 monthly meetings, a Programming Co-Chair plans four meetings and a second Programming Co-Chair plans five. In addition many of the Chapter’s volunteers serve two year terms. By staggering the terms, one co-chair will begin her role while the other co-chair will already has a year of experience. The staggering terms makes for a smoother transition each year. “People are so busy these days that it is hard to get someone to commit so by breaking the position up between two people we are able to get more help,” said Mary Ellen Mitchell, President of the Buffalo Chapter of AFWA.