Posted by & filed under Fundraising Day, Networking, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion, Special Events.

By Emily Barrie

“Leave something behind, be curious, and surround yourself with good people”.

These are simply a few of the takeaways I left Fundraising Day 2019 with; and as a first-time attendee I can confidently say that as I boarded the Lakeshore West train I was heading back home with a number of new tools in my fundraising toolkit.

 

I am early on in my career as a professional fundraiser, and have been a member of the AFP for less than a year. Always eager to learn and improve my skill-set I decided that it was time for me dig deeper and dive into my fundraising education. So naturally I found myself on AFP Toronto’s Fundraising Day 2019 website, hovering over the “complete registration” button. At first I was a bit hesitant as not only would I not know anyone, this would be the first time I’ve attended an event like this. Of course, I could hear the little fundraiser voice in the back of my head saying “you won’t know unless you ask”, or in this case, attend. So after debating over which sessions I wanted to participate in I found myself looking at that same registration button, and clicked.

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Posted by & filed under Diversity, Donor communications, Fundraising Day, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

By Loretta Lam

Understand Your Audience Before You Ask

 

May 30, 2019 – I was at a conference today filled with around 500 attendees from small to large not-for profit organizations. The conference, called Fundraising Day and appropriately themed “The Fabric of Fundraising” in celebration of its 25th year, was organized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Toronto Chapter. I made remarks at one of the sessions at the conference about the importance for fundraisers to understand the changing fabric of Canada.

Canada now has over 40,000 immigrants every year and 7.1 million Canadians’ mother tongue is neither English nor French. By 2036, 34% of Canadians will be multicultural consumers. Charities and not-for-profit organizations have to understand that their current and future donations, sponsorships, volunteers and employees will come from these immigrants. Fundraisers need to adapt their fundraising and marketing strategies to the fast changing demographics. With that being said, I wonder how many of them have hit some roadblocks along the way before they realized they need a different approach to this unique audience segment.

The Chinese, for example, are known for their charitable giving and generosity, but they are not keen to give just because you have a good cause. With so many good causes, how can you push the right buttons to get results? Many organizations make the mistake of asking before the right relationships have been built. From my own personal history and experience, I have learned that doing business with the Chinese requires building positive relationships and trust. This same principle applies to fundraising in the Chinese community (and in the sector at large). While immigrant Chinese are trying to integrate into the Canadian culture, it is important to keep in mind that most were brought up with a very different set of values, which still shape how they think and behave.

So, how do we embrace these values and diversity in our fundraising?

 

 Here are 6 quick tips to get you started:

 

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Posted by & filed under Fundraising Day, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion, Special Events.

Where were you in 1994?

Ann Rosenfield shares her thoughts on how the sector has changed over the past 25 years…

 

You’ve come a long way, baby. Maybe.

“Let’s face it. Women are not major donors.” said the head of fundraising in my first  job in 1994. Some things have sure improved since then while other areas are the same, or worse. In honour of this year’s Fundraising Day throwback theme, here’s what’s what in our profession then and now.

 

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

What’s with us fundraisers and planned giving? In 1994, fundraisers were always trying to carve out some time for planned giving with limited success. The same issue still seems true today. As a sector, we still seem to think this is something to focus on tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. This short-sighted approach is part of a continuing problem with an over-emphasis on immediate revenue over long-term growth and stability.

Meanwhile direct mail has proved the doomsayers wrong! Back in 1994, you would have heard all kinds of workshops on how direct mail was going to disappear. While mail has changed with the times, paper letters in paper envelopes are still an important part of a fundraising strategy.

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

In 1994 all jobs were permanent, full-time positions with benefits and pensions. The rise of contract employment has meant that young professionals (and even senior leaders) find themselves in unstable employment today. This is bad for us as professionals and bad for the field. In a sector that is supposed to provide solutions to social problems, it is inexcusable that an increasing segment of our employees can’t enjoy stable, secure employment with benefits. 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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