Member Spotlight, Chris Baker, CFRE



Chris Baker

Executive Director

Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation


Q:        Tell us a little about your organization. Mission? Population you serve? What do you like most about working there?  

A:         For over three decades Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has been committed to driving community change, stimulating new ideas, and engaging audiences in a conversation around sustainable food and agriculture.

Our mission: “To grow a vibrant food community for all Ohioans.”

Farm Bureau Foundation is committed to support the next generation of agriculture producers, scientists, and business and community leaders.  In 2016, over $30,000 was awarded in scholarships and professional development opportunities for individuals in food and agriculture. An additional $30,000 was invested in programs committed to addressing Ohio’s agricultural challenges.

I enjoy working with a group of people who are committed to feeding people and nourishing communities.


Q.     Does your organization have any special events coming up? Tell us about them!

A.     Golf Tournament on June 26th (Jefferson Golf and Country Club)

Cultivating a Cure on August 20th (Fundraiser in support of cancer research at the James)


Q:        How long have you been an AFP member, and what has your involvement been?

A:         I first joined AFP in 2011 while working in Washington State. Since moving back to Ohio in late 2015, I have received my CFRE and joined the board of Central Ohio AFP.


Q:        What do you consider the most valuable part of your AFP membership?

A:         The networking opportunities that AFP provides to individuals working in small organizations are invaluable. As a member, you have an entire community of talent and resources to draw on.  Have a question about closing a major gift, or the difference between CRUTS and CRATS? There is a pretty good chance someone in the chapter is an expert in that specialty and can assist you.


Q:        How long have you been in fundraising, and how did you get into it?      

A:         I began my fundraising career right out of college when I joined the Boy Scouts as a District Executive.  At the time, I thought I would gain some experience working for a not for profit organization and make the transition to my planned for career when the job market rebounded. Little did I know, the next 13 years would be spent working in development for several organizations in three states.


Q:        What is your favorite part about living/working in Columbus? Favorite Restaurant?

A:         Friendly people, big city amenities, and a 20 minutes commute… it doesn’t get much better.

As a devoted Foodie, here are my recommendations: Breakfast – Skillet, Cheap Eats – Los Galapagos, Best Tacos – Los Gauchos Taqueria, Fine Dining – Lindey’s


Q:        Tell us a fun fact about you that other AFP members wouldn’t know.

A:         While in college, I once fought in a “Toughman” Competition. My official record was 1-1


Q:      What special perspective does your position as an executive director bring to the AFP board table?

A:      In my experience the best executive directors are great fundraisers, that just happen to have additional experience in board management, staffing, strategic planning and resource management.


Q:      Tell us why you chose to get a CFRE, and a little about the process?

A: My choice to pursue the CFRE certification was very easy to make, and thoroughly informed by my experience with AFP. Having spent the majority of my career working for a national nonprofit, it was apparent to me that there was a significant difference between how I was prepared for my role as a professional fundraiser when contrasted with the individuals that I met through my local AFP chapter.

At the time, my organization focused their training largely on the implementation of a proprietary fundraising system. While this system was successful for a while, it stood in stark contrast with the evidence based best practices that were employed by other organizations.

It was the realization that I was being left behind, and that it was up to me to take ownership over my career, that ultimately prompted action. I changed jobs, found a mentor committed to helping me achieve my goal of certification, and starting studying.

Unfortunately, the majority of my educational experience to that point did not count toward the CFRE application. Over the next 18 months, I ramped up my involvement in AFP, attended several conferences, and even a few webinars to get the requisite number of points to sit for the exam.

Too much attention is given to the test! (Yes, it is a miserable affair) Thankfully the real value of the certification is in the process. For me, that meant increasing my involvement with AFP, regularly interacting with my mentor, and learning those best practices that drove my decision making in the first place.


Posted March 2017