Posted by & filed under Congress, Diversity, Opinion, Special Events.

By Tricia Johnson

 

AFP Toronto’s Congress was an empowering and highly personal experience that is changing my outlook towards the fundraising sector. But it didn’t start off that way.

 

It started with my arms crossed against my chest and my mouth drawn tightly into a straight line. It was a frown to be honest, but it could have been mistaken for concentration.

 

Hadiya Roderique was giving the first plenary speech at Congress, Canada’s premiere educational forum for fundraisers. Ms. Roderique’s experience as a black lawyer on Bay Street made front page news of the Globe and Mail last fall, and here, her powerful and informed speech tackled the racism and exclusion present in Canada’s corporate culture. Her observations, statistics and personal experience brought the conference’s theme, “Disrupt Philanthropy” sharply into focus. It showed that philanthropic culture in Canada was not immune to the “-isms” that affect other sectors. For me it touched a nerve that I was used to covering up.

 

“Why is she talking about this?” I thought. “We already know this! Just deal with it and move on!”

 

Well, that’s exactly what she was doing. Head on. I too am a black woman. I am a fundraiser working in Ottawa since 2005. I know what it feels like to be the only person of colour in a crowded room. But I don’t talk about it. Instead I’ve gotten used to the discomfort and moved on. But am I moving? Really?

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Posted by & filed under Congress, Leadership/Management, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion, Special Events.

By John Paul de Silva – originally published on the Social Focus Consulting blog.

 

Vanity A La Mode, in front of podium, disrupting philanthropy in all the right ways

 

In my previous article on AFP Congress 2018, we explored how charities can reverse declining revenues by delighting donors, more specifically, by personalizing communications, running experiential events, and designing frictionless webpages. Ultimately, it’s people that drive and nurture such decisions, but how do we facilitate this kind of innovation and disruption? We do it through transformational leadership which requires introspection followed by extrospection.

Kishshana Palmer, presenting on transformational leadership and emotional intelligence

 

In Kishshana Palmer‘s session, she focused on emotional intelligence (EI) and its ability to help us motivate, inspire, boost, and push others, in turn, helping us become transformational leaders. According to Ms. Palmer, EI can be broken down into four domains or competencies: self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management. Although the framework is centred around emotions, I believe it’s a good general framework for all contributing aspects of transformational fundraising leadership. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Congress, Fundraising Day, Marketing/Communications, Networking.

By Mo Waja

 

AFP Congress has come and gone but Fundraising Day 2019 seems just around the corner and there are many other conferences on the horizon. Conferences, broadly, are an exciting opportunity to learn and grow through the shared wisdom and thought leadership of speakers, to discover new opportunities through networking, to make new friends with other professionals in the space, and to grow your personal brand as a professional and thought leader within your field.

 

But conferences can also be challenging, and a lot of that comes down to scale. Yes, you are in this focused microcosm of your industry filled with people of, presumably, like mind and like interest, yet you are also one of perhaps over 1,000 delegates, all of whom are looking for new opportunities and new connections. With that being the case, it can seem a daunting task to cut through the noise and have your voice heard amid the many others all pushing for airtime. Tools like social media have made this interesting because, now, most conferences will have a #hashtag of some kind along with a twitter handle, and so for the days of the conference you’ll see a flood of tweets as people capture images, quotes, and key messages that simultaneously express their interest and broadcast their presence at the conference. The thing is, if your goal is to stand out from the crowd, tweeting along in the same way as everyone else still leaves you lost in the crowd. What you need is a way to differentiate yourself so that, whether delegate or speaker, people can tune out a bit of the noise and tune in to you, specifically.

 

To do this well, I would suggest a 5-step process:

  1. Choose a theme for your conference
  2. Start talking about it early (2-3 weeks before it happens)
  3. Produce conference content
  4. Make friends and be places
  5. Keep talking about it (1-2 weeks after it happens)

 

  1. Choose a Theme for Your Conference 

Throughout a conference you will have many conversations. These conversations can take place in person, during workshops, or through the posts you put out via social media. Choosing a theme for your conference means choosing the subject matter that you want to focus on during those conversations, workshops, and posts. This process is very intentional, and the easiest way to understand why is to consider Twitter.

 

Over the course of the conference, there will be a lot of tweets flying around. The challenge is that if everyone is tweeting scattershot and talking about everything, simultaneously, it’s very easy for your voice to get drowned out. One way to cut through the noise is to have a few focused subjects that you choose to talk about. For example, if you, like me, are fascinated by nonprofit storytelling, attend sessions that speak to that and then tweet about them. Doing this consistently positions you as someone who cares about storytelling (or, otherwise, marketing, donor relations, planned giving, etc., depending on your chosen theme) to the conference at large. This makes it easier to connect with people both within and beyond conference attendees who are either of like mind or looking to learn more about your chosen subject. Taking this outside social media, your chosen theme should echo through all your conversations so that every interaction you have at the conference intentionally positions you as a person who cares about a certain relevant subject and knows things about that subject.

 

The beauty of choosing a theme for your conference is that, even if you aren’t a speaker, you can still position yourself as an authority on a subject by adding in your own thoughts and opinions and producing related content.

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Posted by & filed under Campaign, Congress, Donor Centric, Donor communications, Inspiration, Marketing/Communications, Special Events.

By John Paul de Silva – originally published on the Social Focus Consulting blog.

 

Where all my social impact peeps at?!? What! What! I’m still hyped up over attending the astronomically amazing 2018 Association of Fundraising Professionals Congress which had the theme “DISRUPT Philanthropy.”

 

Why do we need to disrupt this sector? Caroline Riseboro, plenary speaker and President and CEO of Plan Canada, summed it up nicely, “A hyper-focus on major gifts is disguising the problem that we have an erosion of donors in the Canadian market. Philanthropy as a whole is on a decline.” And it’s no wonder given the challenge to get people’s attention, nevermind donations. We see 10,000 marketing messages a day while having an eight second attention span, according to Vanessa Landry, Director of Client Services at Fundraising Direct. That’s why we need disruption. We need new ideas, new ways of doing things, to advance the sector and keep being socially impactful.

 

Then, how do we become disruptive? We do it by delighting donors and through leadership. Delighting donors involves giving them an experience they can’t stop talking about, according to Jen Love, Partner at Agents of Good. When donors can’t stop talking about a positive experience, that leads to engagement, repeat donations, referrals to others, and ultimately growth for charities.

 

This first part of a two-part blog will cover how to delight donors. Based on my takeaways from attending some of the sessions and engaging with the #AFPCongress2018 feed, there are three main opportunities to delight donors: personalized communications, experiential events, and frictionless webpage design. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Congress, Inspiration, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

Originally published on LinkedIn by Debra Thompson.

 

As I sit here on this unseasonably cold November day, I am reflective. This week, I spent 3 days in Toronto, starting very early Monday morning, at my very first AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Toronto Congress and I am in awe. Before I share why, let’s take a step back.

 

Earlier this year, I embarked on a quest to investigate my next career move. After over 20 years in corporate sales, it was time for a change. A shift in my way of thinking. It had been a rough 4 years, including family health issues, mom’s second cancer diagnosis and the suicide of my dad. I recognized it was time to reflect, recalibrate and regroup to decide on my future career choices. This explorative journey with my career coach, Barbara Wilson, of Thrive Career Coaching, by my side, landed me smack in the middle of the non-profit sector, and specifically, into the world of fundraising. I realized that my corporate sales skills were transferable and in alignment with my values as a lifelong volunteer and I had a strong desire to do good and give back. In conversations with some amazing non-profit sector leaders, all roads led to AFP.   Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Donor communications, Marketing/Communications, Speakers, Special Events.

By Mo Waja

 

For many nonprofits, ‘marketing’ has been­ — and remains — a support tool for fundraising; its purpose, mainly to serve as a medium to get the fundraising message out there to as many prospective donors as possible, via social media or otherwise. But this limited use fails to capitalize on the opportunity of marketing. For nonprofits making more robust use of marketing and communications, the act of ‘marketing’ becomes everything from a branding exercise to a recruitment tool, to a way to connect with key stakeholders, to community engagement, to profile building, to storytelling.

 

But it’s that last, storytelling, that sits at the core of good marketing. No matter what message your organization is looking to put out into the world, the story you tell is the heart of how you express the need of your population, how you connect with your community of supporters, and how you show the continuous positive impact your organization has. The question is, how do you tell that story well?

 

 

The thing is, ‘telling a story well’ encompasses more than simply telling a good story that (hopefully) raises fundraising dollars. Why? Because every charitable organization owes a duty of care to the population they serve that goes beyond the good work provided.

 

This, how to market, advertise, or tell a nonprofit story well, has been a topic of much debate. While, broadly, we can agree that tapping into empathy and, from that, compassion, is a key component of generating giving behaviour through storytelling, the real question is how do we get there. One common way is the use of ‘shock’ campaigns depicting imagery of people in desperate circumstances. Yet this strategy has been used so frequently that it has almost become a cliché, while simultaneously becoming an unfortunate standard by which many fundraising campaigns are set, particularly those for international aid (think your classic imagery of impoverished, starving Africa). While, even today, these shock campaigns — often more harshly labeled ‘poverty porn’ — can undoubtedly be effective in soliciting short-term donations, the problems with this approach are multifold. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Congress, Inspiration, Opinion, Special Events.

By Tara Irwin, CFRE

 

With AFP Congress only a few weeks away, I’m starting to get excited to reconnect with my fundraising friends, meet some new contacts, and learn a few tips and tricks to help me excel in my role. While some people find conferences overwhelming (they are), with a little preparation, they can be very rewarding. Here’s what I like to do in order to maximize my Congress experience.

 

Meet People

Whether you’re planning to meet specific people or just chatting with the person beside you at lunch, Congress is the perfect opportunity to connect with other great minds in our sector. I like to have a couple of questions prepared, so I don’t feel like a robot asking everyone I meet the same thing. It’s okay to write down some notes, especially if there is a key person you’d like to chat with. I also like to connect with new contacts on LinkedIn right away. It’s a great platform to grow your network and communicate with like-minded professionals in the industry. Try to send a personal message noting where you met.

 

Be Present

This can be a hard one for all of us, especially when there is temptation to check your email constantly throughout the day. Since I’ve made the commitment to attend Congress and learn something new, I do my best to focus my attention on the session content instead of worrying what’s going on back at the office. I like to check my email in-between sessions, so not to be distracted from an interesting presentation or discussion. I use my out of office message to let people know that I’m at a conference learning something new that will help make me better at my job.

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