Posted by & filed under Congress.

Through the generousity of the AFP Foundation of Philanthropy – Canada and Vitreo, this AFP Congress session can be presented here. Listen to AFP Congress 2017 Session, R-04: The Disrupters’ Panel – Breaking Barriers, Smashing Ceilings and Changing Minds through Effective Leadership with Sharon Avery, Peter Dinsdale, Sandra Hawken, Caroline Riseboro, and Jill Zelmanovits.

Special thanks to the webcast sponsors:

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Last Thursday, eight future speaking stars stepped into the spotlight in the inaugural installment of the Speakers Discovery Series.

The Speakers Discovery Series was an idea that has been brewing in my mind for quite some time. I have been a member of the AFP Toronto Congress Education Committee for the last two years before becoming Chair this year. Each year I would have people say to me, “How do I get to speak at Congress? I apply, and I am turned down over and over.”

When I looked at the reasons why many of these applications were being declined, I realized it was their lack of AFP based speaking experience. But how could they get experience if they couldn’t get accepted? There just wasn’t a clear path, and it was deterring new speakers which in turn meant that Congress was continuing to choose from the same pool of speakers. Finally, the idea came to me – why not replicate something that is already working to help create new and interesting speakers for other sectors? Being an avid podcast listener, I thought about The Moth or Risk – real people, telling real stories that connect with the audience. The plan was born!

Posted by & filed under Congress, Major/Planned Gifts, Marketing/Communications, Speakers, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Rory Green – Associate Director, Advancement, Faculty of Applied Science 

Simon Fraser University

A good conversation with a donor has almost nothing to do with what you say.

What matters most is how you listen.

photo credit: niclindh

I have been on countless donor meetings, accompanied by an eager major gifts officer who has so much to say about their organization – they pitch all areas of their non-profit’s mission at lightning speed, and leave the donor a bit dizzy – and quite often completely disinterested.

I want to let you in on a secret: major gifts isn’t about being able to make a great pitch, it’s about asking great questions and listening really well.

Major gifts officers need to be able to have great conversations with donors. Conversations about hopes, values and beliefs. The key to taking a conversation to a more meaningful level is to build likability, rapport and trust. As fundraisers, we need to be experts at creating rapport – and creating it quickly. Here are some ways you can listen better – that have been proven to build trust fast.

Match Tone: Listen to the tone and speed of the donor’s voice. Do your best to, naturally, match them in tempo, volume and pitch. I’m not telling you to do a fake accent, or impression of them – just be aware of the sound and cadence of their voice and make subtle adjustments.

Affirm and Acknowledge: We need verbal and non-verbal cues we are being heard. Small nods, and “mmhmms” give us permission to continue sharing. Often as we are listening to our donor, our mind begins to race ahead to what we want to say next. Don’t do that! Stay in the moment and focus on hearing what is being said.

Smile: Early on in my major gifts career, I realized I had an awful listening face. When someone is talking to me, I can scrunch my brow – and almost scowl. I look angry, even when I’m not! So, as Tyra Banks wold say, I’ve worked a lot on “smiling with my eyes”. Try asking for feedback on your listening face from family and friends, and when you’re trying to build rapport be sure to smile!

Mirror Body Language: Again, this should be done subtly – but pay attention to how the person you are speaking to is positioned. Are they leaning forward? Back? How is their posture? Mirroring body language puts the person you are talking to at ease, and helps them to feel relaxed.

Synchronize Breath: This is an odd tip, but there is a good amount of research behind this. Try to match the breathing of the person you are having a conversation with, it creates a strong subconscious sense of commonality.

These tricks sound basic, but they are incredibly effective. Try it out yourself. Spend as much time learning about how to be a good listener as you spend learning about your mission and programs.

Want to learn more? Or better yet – have the chance to practice these tips and get live feedback? Come to Congress this November and check out my workshop “Meaningful Conversations (That Raise More Money)”.

Happy Listening!


Rory Green has been in the philanthropic sector for over eight years and is currently the Associate Director, Advancement for the Faculty of Applied Science at Simon Fraser University. Rory has also worked in major and corporate giving at BCIT and the Canadian Cancer Society. In her spare time Rory is the founder and editor of Fundraiser Grrl, the fundraising community’s go-to source for comic relief . She will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.


Posted by & filed under Congress, Crowdfunding, Marketing/Communications, Social Media, Speakers, Stewardship/Donor Relations, Volunteers.

Robert C. Osborne, Jr., Principal, The Osborne Group, Inc.


If you go to any crowdfunding platform and search past the featured projects on the home page you’ll see that many, if not most of these projects are well behind in their goals. Sometimes it is because the project

isn’t a very compelling one, sometimes it is because the media associated with project isn’t very well done, and sometimes it’s because the rewards aren’t well thought out. But I would argue that in almost all cases the real underlying reason for lack of success is a lack of planning.

Here are some tips for successful crowdfunding:

If you build it they will NOT come – If you simply throw up a crowd funding project on IndieGoGo or some other crowdfunding website and hope that people will stumble across it and give, you are in for disappointment. This pretty much never happens. You need to drive people to your project and this takes a little thought and planning.

Think through your mediaHaving good pictures and video for your crowdfunding campaign is critical. Take the time to think through what your messages are. Remember that you want to talk about future impact. What will be different in the world tomorrow because I gave money to your project today? Read more »

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Emma Lewzey, CFRE, Senior Major Gifts Officer, St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation

If you work in a small or mid-size shop, there is a clear path to stability and sustainability for your organization. You need to focus on the right donors: individual donors. Now, don’t get me wrong – corporate gifts, special events, and foundation grants can all play an important role in a balanced and diversified fundraising program.

The reality is that individual donors give the vast majority of philanthropic gifts – here in Canada, the latest available stats show that 71% of donations come from individuals, followed by foundations at 16%, and corporations at 11%. If you are like most small to mid-size organizations you and/or your team are probably spread pretty thin – you’re wearing multiple hats, and have a diverse range of responsibilities in your portfolio. And chances are, you’re not spending 71% of your fundraising time and resources focusing on individuals. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Data Management, Marketing/Communications, Metrics, Mobile Giving, Social Media.

Claire Kerr, Director of Digital Philanthropy, Artez Interactive


Many nonprofit organizations are closely measuring online activity across their websites and donation forms… And with good reason! Tools like Google Analytics can be more useful than user surveys when we want accurate information about what our donors and supporters are really doing online.

When diving into your own numbers, have you noticed the difference between web traffic from laptops or PCs, and mobile traffic from smartphones and tablets? At Artez Interactive, we track fundraising activity for millions of visitors to charity and nonprofit donation pages every year. We’ve noticed that for most organizations, the peak time of day for online donations is between 9am – 11am.

What’s driving this pattern? A few things! Donors are responding to email solicitations in their inboxes and logging onto social sites like Facebook at the start of the day; often while at work. It makes sense that charities and nonprofits would see a spike in donations during this period. Read more »