Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Mentorship, Networking.

Julie Davis, CFRE, Vice President External Relations & Advancement

Trent University

I’ve heard many negative and uninformed comments about my profession as a fundraiser. “You’re that person who keeps sending me letters. I would never stoop to begging for money”. “How can you do this job? It’s ambulance chasing at its worst.” “I don’t know why they hired you. They just finished a capital campaign, what else is there to do?”

I’ve been marginalized, ignored, sneered at and dismissed. I’ve had new hires quit after a few months because they had no idea how hard the job was. I chose to enter the fundraising profession mid-way through a very successful marketing career because after the birth of my daughter and moving to a small town, I wanted to give back, to do something I would be proud to tell my child about at the end of the day.

I was really good at my job, I felt I could sell anything to anybody, so I wanted to make that count towards something important. I had no idea what was involved in being a fundraiser and to be honest I was quite arrogant about bringing my big city international career to the profession of fundraising, especially in a smaller shop.

                               photo credit: Tabo Garcia

I was quickly humbled by the professionalism of the sector, the knowledge of my colleagues and the ability of our volunteers. The Executive Director of a nearby charity came to the “Welcome Julie” Open House just after I arrived and offered his time and expertise. Thankfully I was smart enough to take him up on that offer and we spent hours together – starting with my list of questions that included “what is a major gift”, “what do I put on the board agenda” and “how do I manage volunteers”?

His patience, willingness to share and wise advice has been my experience with so many others in this sector. When I didn’t know how to proceed I “called a friend” and they always took my call. During the lucky thirteen years I have now spent in this profession I’ve had the opportunity to meet with countless donors and talk about why they give.

I’ve learned from volunteers about how to ask for money and never to take no for an answer. I’ve met with the recipients of our charity’s gifts and seen first-hand how we’ve made a difference and why it was so important. I’ve received unsolicited cards from board members and donors thanking me for the work I do for our community (truly!). I’ve had donors thank me for allowing them to be a part of our good work (that one brought a tear to my eye). I am a fundraiser because I have talents that can be put to good use to help others.

I am a fundraiser because I love the opportunity to help people, to say thank you, and to make wonderful connections between people who care passionately about the same things. I am a fundraiser because it’s a necessary and vitally important profession that enriches my life in ways I could never have imagined. Join me and your colleagues at the Congress and celebrate this wonderful profession, make new connections and learn about how we are helping to change the world.

nullJulie Davis, CFRE is Vice President External Relations and Advancement for Trent University where she is responsible for Development, Alumni Affairs, Marketing and Communications, Government and Community Relations and institutional events. The University is celebrating its 50th anniversary and in the midst of a $50m campaign, which includes a recently completed Legacy Campaign that doubled the number of expectancies in just 18 months. Julie Davis will be speaking at Congress 2014 in November. You can follower her on Twitter @julietrentuvp

 

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Mentorship, Networking.

Leah Eustace, ACFRE

Chief Idea Goddess, Good Works

tweetcottage

Has anyone ever done a research study into the general health of fundraisers? If so, I’d love to know about it. I’ve long suspected that we probably suffer more than the rest of the population from heart disease, mental illness, and stress-related disorders.

Why? Well, we’re a naturally giving bunch. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we feel deeply. It’s what drew us to this work, and what makes us good at it. But the flip side is that many of us work particularly long hours, don’t take enough time for exercise and say yes to a lot of (too many?) volunteer opportunities.

What we don’t do enough of us is take quality time for ourselves, with each other, where we’re free from judgment, can say what’s on our mind, can ask for help, and can freely express our opinions.

Yep, I’m talking group fundraiser therapy. I’m a big fan of it.

For the last three years, I’ve been getting together on a regular basis with a dynamic group of female non-profiteers. We spend a long weekend every summer at a cottage (where anything goes, and we fit a little pro-bono work in, too). We get together at a women’s only spa the day before Congress every year (just message me if you’re interested in joining us for #TweetSpa). And, we even have a private Facebook group where we can ask and say anything that’s on our mind (this is particularly great for our small shop friends, who can run fundraising ideas by the rest of us, ask for a second set of eyes on fundraising plans or letters, or just generally rant about such things as dysfunctional boards… not that those exist ;)).

It’s one of the best things in my professional and personal life, and I think the idea should spread. What’s stopping us from gathering many a group of like-minded fundraisers for group therapy and group support? How about you men get together for #TweetScotch? Or how about we spread my good friend, Paul Nazareth’s, #NetWalk idea across the country (just tweet him @UInvitedU for details)?

I task each and every one of you to pull together your therapy group during Congress. Go out for a drink together, grab dinner, or head to the spa. I PROMISE, it will be good for you, mind, body and soul.

staff_leah (2)Leah Eustace, ACFRE, is Chief Idea Goddess at Good Works. She and Scott Fortnum, ACFRE, will be presenting on the Psychology of Giving at Congress on Monday, November 24th at 2:00pm. Leah will be feeling very zen, having attended #TweetSpa the day before. You can follow her on twitter @LeahEustace, or send her an email at leah@goodworksco.ca

Posted by & filed under Board of Directors, Career Development, Ethics, Financial/Legal, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy.

by AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Ethics Committee

De-stigmatization – An Odd Lesson for Ethics

There is a lot we can learn from various de-stigmatization initiatives that have captured the public’s attention of late. Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Campaign for mental health is a shining example. Decades ago people were too ashamed to talk about depression or anxiety, and now it is commonplace to understand and appreciate that nearly one quarter of the entire workforce have a mental health struggle.

In an odd way, we need to de-stigmatize talking about ethics in fundraising and the charitable sector. People often have one of two reactions: It is either, “… our organization’s ethics are fine; it’s everyone else that has a problem,” or “… ethics? We don’t have the time or resources to worry about ethics.”

photo credit: vanhookc via photopin cc
photo credit: vanhookc

Talk About Ethics

Just like mental health, a bit of knowledge is a powerful thing. When you know what ethics actually are, the causes and symptoms of healthy (and unhealthy) ethics, and how to sustain balanced personal and organizational ethics, you have the ability to diagnose and remedy problems. Better yet, you are able to create and sustain operational excellence, increase and deepen your relationships, and be a leader for your donors and volunteers, who deserve your utmost respect.

The first place to start is to talk about ethics – to put ethics on your personal and organizational radar. One of the best places to begin is to acknowledge what you know and just as importantly what you don’t know. Ethics relates to governance matters such as a board’s fiscal responsibilities or care of duty for staff. Strategically, ethics relates to fundamental fundraising practices such as the integrity of your case for support. Ethics on an operational level can be about the information you use and share when it comes to determining a potential donor’s ability to give. Personally, ethics can even be about the level of information you share about a donor with whom you have worked during a job interview, and if you promise to “deliver” said donor to demonstrate your fundraising prowess.

At its core, ethics is all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand where they are coming from – good, bad or indifferent. It is through the sharing of each other’s stories that we discover solutions to differences in values and ethical conundrums. Again, the key is to talk, to engage, and to do what’s right – together.

Share Your Story, and Help Build the Ethics Library

To that end, the Ethics Resources Committee of Greater Toronto is promoting AFP’s growing library of ethics case studies. These are reality-based overviews of ethical situations that executives in the charitable sector have faced and managed successfully. They are fascinating. The case studies are also excellent learning tools and are available for download.

The Committee has created a new case study template to chronicle new examples of challenging ethical situations. We invite you to share one of your stories anonymously so that others can learn and continue to understand best practices, and apply them as the highest level fundraising practitioner. When you talk and share, you and your organization succeed. Best of all, donors and volunteers will be moved to give and continue giving because they know at a fundamental level they can trust.

Please fill out the case study submission form to either suggest a new case study not already covered, or to submit your own case study example.

It’s a Big Deal

Chances are that whatever ethics challenge or success you have faced or are facing, someone else is in the exact same boat. One story at a time, we give staff and volunteer leaders the ability to make their charity and fundraising everything they can be.

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Leadership/Management.

Maeve Strathy

It’s the summer. We’re all staring longingly out our office windows (if we’re lucky enough to have them), wondering why on earth we’re stuck inside working when we could be enjoying the sun, the fresh air, and this brief period of time in Canada where we don’t need a jacket or coat of any sort. Prospects aren’t returning our calls or emails, our colleagues are all taking turns going on vacations, and it’s hard to find the motivation to get back to the work in front of us.

I’ve had a few of these moments lately myself. Despite the lack oSummerKitef motivation, summer is an important time for planning and preparing for the new fundraising year. It’s during these quieter months at work that we have the rare opportunity to sit and think; analyze what worked this past year, strategize about what we need to change, plan out our mailings, and firm up our stewardship processes. It all sounds well and good, but there’s one problem…

I just can’t find the inspiration! Where is that passion I had for my job a few months ago? So naturally I turned to Facebook and asked my friends, what do you do in this situation? How do you motivate yourself?

One of my very wise friends said, “I have stuff on my wall in my office to remind me of the outcomes of my work.” Brilliant! And then I turned and saw a card on my desk that I received from an alumna of the institution who was selected this year for our annual Philanthropy Award. She wrote me to thank me for my help in preparing her for the event that honoured her. She wanted to thank me! She has a great philanthropic story to tell; she’s never given more than $350 in any given year, but she’s given to the university every single year since she graduated. Every year!

Even better, her gifts have been designated annually to pretty much wherever the funds were needed most. In many cases she’s directed her gift to our unrestricted fund, giving the university the flexibility to respond to unforeseen emergencies or even worthwhile opportunities. She’s given to the library many times, too! Her gifts directly impact students, and that’s what I’m here for in the first place.

Speaking of students, next to the card on my desk is a photo of a student and a donor. This donor created a financial assistance opportunity at the university in memory of his deceased son. I had the opportunity to set up a meeting between the donor and this year’s recipient of his award which gave the donor the chance to truly see the impact of his philanthropy. The student expressed – eloquently, I might add – his gratitude to the donor, and he shared what he plans to do with his life after university. It was so rewarding to witness a donor seeing the effect his generosity has on an actual student.

All of us fundraisers, wherever we work, are here to raise money to make an impact. The outcomes of our work are clear; we are so lucky in that sense. Other professionals out there might struggle to see the point sometimes, but fundraising professionals know exactly what they’re here to do, and we have lots of examples that can motivate us through even the sunniest of days.

Maeve is the FounderMaeve Strathy of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years. Learn more about Maeve and connect with Maeve via: Twitter | LinkedIn | Email | Web

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

Alan Clayton – Director, Clayton Burnett Ltd; Chairman, Revolutionise Global; Chairman, Grove Practice; Managing Partner, Inch Hotel and Inspiration Centre

Last week, I had the honour and pleasure of addressing the Young Nonprofit Professionals, Toronto. Young and professional they certainly were but, as I was preparing and then delivering my thoughts, something struck me. The majority of the audience worked in fundraising. Not all, but the audience was definitely fundraiser heavy, perhaps due to the topic, perhaps due to the influence of the sponsor – Stephen Thomas.

This really set me thinking. The term ‘nonprofit’ is used to describe the entire sector we work in – predominantly in North America, but increasingly in Europe as well. In context, this suddenly seemed an apologetic, inappropriate and perhaps even self-defeating term. The European ‘Third sector’ is scarcely any better. You see, the primary purpose and skill of most people in the room was the ability to generate profits… significantly large profits and at a very impressive margin compared to other sectors. The rest of the room were employed in spending said profits.

I had a realisation. We are the only sector which seeks to define itself by what we don’t do. Even more contradictory, we define ourselves by something we don’t do (nonprofit) but we do in fact actually do it. We invest reserves and revenue and we generate huge returns on these investments – up to twelve times greater than returns achieved by professional investors, in fact.

The difference in our sector is not the profits we make, but the way we choose to spend those profits. Profits with purpose, if you like. Is it any wonder we come in for ridiculous criticism (CEO salaries, ROI ratios, admin costs and even ~gasp~ paid fundraisers) if we ourselves start from such a negative and defensive position as ‘nonprofit’?

We should define ourselves by what we do… that is, how we spend the profits we make. That way we start from a positive hypothesis and can better explain our purpose to questioners and detractors. Even better, we will come to be proud of what we do.

Perhaps we could be the ‘For change sector’, the ‘Social purpose sector’ or even ‘The brilliant way to invest your money and get massive relative returns which make the world a better place sector.’

I am sure you can do better than that. Perhaps AFP could start a competition to find a better term? Suggestions welcome…

Alan Clayton

Alan Clayton is one of the leading consultants, creative directors and inspirational speakers on the world circuit, currently based in the UK, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Alan created charity marketing agency Cascaid in the UK in 1998 following a career working in-house in charity marketing. He ran Cascaid until 2008, when it merged to form The Good Agency. Alan has worked with over 250 nonprofit clients in the UK and around the world. 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Leadership/Management, Networking.

Paul Nazareth, Philanthropic Advisory Services, Scotia Private Client Group

Conferences are one of the most powerful ways to learn, grow a peer support network and grow professionally.

How can you take full advantage of your time and organization’s funds invested to send you? Here are some tips we hope you find useful:

1. Know thyself. My favourite authors call conferences the “Olympics of networking“. Extroverts thrive but what if you’re not one? How do you keep your energy up and survive these crazy few days? Here’s a great read for the thinking-class “introverts” who dread these noisy, busy affairs. Don’t focus on the formal program, go off the beaten path. An example of this the great networking dinners being hosted at AFP Congress in Toronto this year. Going ‘off site’ is a way to have deeper conversations with peers one on one, seasoned conference veterans know this is the best way to establish lasting professional connections.

2. Bring lots of business cards! Yes, cards are still importing with networking, even in a digital world. Write down what you spoke about with that person to follow up and if you ask them to send you something – write it down for them on your card. Here’s a great read on business card etiquette. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Leadership/Management.

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Carolyn Hawthorn

Business Development Officer, Harbourfront Centre

It might be just me but I don’t think there are enough hours in the day. As professionals the expectation is that you always deliver your best at work. Ensuring you’re on the top of your game means understanding that the nonprofit sector is increasingly influenced by outside trends. Fundraising is touched and affected by economic, social, technological and political trends in our home country, and increasingly, worldwide. To perform to the best of your ability in the office you need to be aware of what is going on outside of it. So, how do you do it?

Extracurricular Fun

Take the time to learn outside the office. Sign up for a webinar once a month. Subscribe to a variety of blogs that focus on different elements of society. Google Currents or Flipboard are great news feed tools to use. They both aggregate news, blogs and websites you’re interested in. Helpful tip, theverge.com is a great site for tech posts.

Attend Congress! Learning in the moment with a live speaker! Don’t forget to make notes while you read and learn, your brain can only remember so much. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Congress, Leadership/Management, Speakers.

Elischer_Tony

Tony Elischer, FinstF (Cert)

Managing Director, THINK Consulting Solutions

I have been coming to the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Congress now for over seventeen years and continue to prioritise my invitations in my  speaking and travel schedules, but why?

I clearly recall meeting a leading American fundraiser many years ago who declared that “America had basically invented philanthropy and fundraising”. “Excuse me”, I thought, “Shouldn’t we recognise that philanthropy is pretty universal and perhaps has a little more ownership, if not history, in Europe?” On the fundraising call I think I must concede as America did pretty much invent the foundations of what we now know as professional fundraising.

When I started in fundraising, over thirty years ago, I was told to look to America for cutting edge fundraising practice, innovation and inspiration. This I did as an enthusiastic young fundraiser and I learnt a lot. However, since those days the world has changed and now we look around the world to different reference points for insights, learnings and inspiration. So what do we look to Canada for? I hear you ask. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Congress, Registration.

 

Malinda DenBok, Online Community Coordinator
The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

So I bumped into Paula Attfield recently and was quite excited as we had not met yet. As a new-comer to the AFP Congress Planning Team I thought it was a great time to ask her my many questions and she kindly obliged.

What was one of your most memorable Congress?

My most memorable Congress was in 1999. At the time I was on the volunteer committee and I was probably 30 months pregnant… well  more like 8.5 months. So I just remember waddling around the various sessions and it was probably fairly hilarious to watch.

Why is this year’s theme Accelerating Change?

Now more than ever, we’re being asked to succeed in a rapidly-changing and complex environment. It’s easy to feel left behind, or to find it difficult to navigate through increasing amounts of ever-changing information – messages hit us from all sides, email, television, advertisements, online and through the media. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Congress.

Malinda DenBok
Online Community Coordinator, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Are you a traveller? This AFP destination may surprise you.

So I’m not suggesting a conference is exactly like a vacation, but after seeing TBEX (The Travel Bloggers Exchange) all over twitter last week it struck me how much conferences can actually be a lot like travelling. Although different from a vacation, they share some of the same benefits:

You leave inspired.

Being out of the office with a change of scenery often causes a change of thinking. My creativity tends to get ramped up because I’m inspired by what is around me. Read more »