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 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.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Donor communications, Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications.

By Mo Waja

With AFP Congress arriving in a short 2 months, burgeoning and tenured thought leaders alike are preparing themselves and their talks to bring new, ambitious, and exciting ideas to the world of fundraising. But ‘thought leadership’ as a marketing activity isn’t something done just once a year or even once a month. It is not exclusive to large scale speaking events or even to a single guest blog post. Thought leadership as an activity or, more accurately, as a result is something that individuals and organizations commit to as a regular piece of their marketing mix.

 

Now, the idea of thought leadership is not new. In fact, ‘thought leadership’ as a marketing strategy has been in vogue for a number of years now. The challenge is that many individuals and organizations, particularly smaller organizations, can find the concept of taking on thought leadership daunting, particularly in the face of many larger organizations or more tenured leaders out there leveraging their much more developed content machines to pump out a near-continuous stream of articles, interviews, blogs, podcasts, and talks.

 

The first step is to recognize that ‘thought leadership’ or becoming a ‘thought leader’ is not a strategy. It’s not even a tactic. It is the result of consistent, quality content that is useful to your audience. To become a thought leader and create thought leadership content is to become an authority on a certain subject, within a certain field. Just as not everyone who picks up an instrument is a musician, not everyone who puts fingers to keyboard (feet to stage, voice to podcast, etc.) is a thought leader.

 

Thought leadership is something that must be established, not simply done. While one talk, interview, or piece of writing might put you on the map – it’s the cumulative work, experience, and expertise that brought you there that builds your foundation as a thought leader. For an organization seeking to become a thought leader in their industry, that becomes the collective work, experience, and expertise of all of your contributors. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Inspiration, Speakers, Special Events.

By Yunis Kariuki

 

Now in its third edition, the Speaker Discovery Series (SDS) is becoming AFP Toronto’s premiere event showcasing the most promising upcoming speakers in the fundraising profession. Speakers come prepared to tell their personal stories in 8-minute speeches with no slide deck or props, and what transpires are powerful, emotional and dynamic presentations connected to the fundraising profession.

 

Each Speaker Discovery Series is centered around a theme chosen by the SDS Committee. Dilemma was chosen for this past Speaker Discovery Series, held in May at the Gladstone Hotel, on Queen and Dufferin. The speakers shared the difficult choices they faced in navigating the complexities of their careers and how they dealt with their choices. The presentation topics ranged from the fear of not speaking up, to dealing with racism in the workplace, professional struggles and successes with Asperger’s, making the decision to walk away from a successful career opportunity, and finally, the challenges non-profits face when marketing vulnerable populations. What made each of the presentations so captivating was the speakers’ ability and skill in storytelling. The speakers’ stories contained conflict and struggle that kept the audience curious about what will happen next. Read more »

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

 

Janice Cunning, ACC, CPCC, Leadership Coach, Life on Purpose

Values represent who you are, what is most important to you, and how you want to express yourself in the world. As fundraisers we are passionate about discovering our donor’s values and helping them express these through their philanthropy. Sometimes we get caught up in our own work and focused on meeting our goals and we forget to create space to explore and connect with our own core values. When we do this we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.

Three positive things happen when you honour your values:

wmi1. You feel motivated to take action

Think about something you need to do that you might have been avoiding. For example, you might have a set of call notes that you need to enter into the database. If this isn’t something you enjoy it can get pushed to the bottom of your list. Your values can help you find the motivation to complete this task authentically. If you value connection, then you can think about entering the notes as a way to deepen the relationship between your organization and the donor. If you value fun, you can make the task into a game by timing yourself and having a reward for beating the clock.

2. You can quiet your gremlins

We all have those voices that keep us stuck in the status quo. It might say you aren’t good enough or convince you that you don’t want to move outside your comfort zone. Truly connecting with your values can help you move forward despite these voices. Perhaps you want to apply for a promotion at work. Your gremlins might ask if you are qualified enough to do that job. They may tell you that a promotion will mean more work and less time for family. Your values are always stronger than the gremlins. If you value purpose then you can approach the decision from that perspective. You can reflect on how this new position will help you have a greater impact on your organization and those it serves.

3. You have a more fulfilling career

Values serve as a compass and point you in the direction of what will be most fulfilling and meaningful to you. This isn’t always easy. If you value honesty then there will be times you need to speak your truth even if it contradicts what your organization is planning to do. You will do this even if you are the lone voice speaking out. If you value stillness there will be times you have to say no people and tasks at work because creating space for yourself is key to your success. When you consciously choose to honour your core values you create a career that truly reflects who you are. And that is the ultimate goal.

So what are your core values? Your values are there inside you and you express them every day. However you may not have articulated them to yourself.

The simplest way to unearth your core values is to explore this question: “What must I have in my life for it to be fulfilling and meaningful?”

This is an exciting question that can be explored in so many ways – in thought, in writing, in pictures, or in conversation. Brainstorm a list of all the possibilities. Make sure you explore fully each aspect of your life. For example you might say I value my career. Explore what values are represented in your work, such as connection, contribution, making a difference, achievement, etc.

Spend a few days creating a list of words and phrases that represent what is most important to you. Use your own words and be creative. Once you have a full list, choose the 5 or 10 that are most important to you.

Now you are ready for the most important part – using your values to guide your choices each and every day. What will you choose to do today?

Janice Cunning is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach trained by the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) with over 15 years of experience as a fundraising consultant and researcher. Janice was a Senior Consultant at KCI where she provided coaching to leading university prospect research departments with a focus on strategic planning, teamwork, and communication. Janice will be presenting at Fundraising Day 2015 in Toronto. You can follow her on twitter @janicecunning

 

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

Laura Champion, Donor Relations Coordinator – Direct Response

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

At almost 30 I still want to change the world. I want to make a difference in people’s lives and I still truly believe that I will do that in my chosen career as a fundraising professional. Some would call me naïve and others would call me ambitious. Recently, I have had two conversations with fundraising colleagues who had completely different vantage points on the topic of ambition.

Colleague One was saying that career ambition is something she feels she should have but does not. While this makes her feel guilty, she has reached the point of wanting the regularity of the 9 to 5 knowing that her non-work life would fulfill her. At the same time, she feels guilty because so many others in our peer group are working toward something different. She also feels a little judged because she found happiness at a level in her career that was/is not enough for others.DON'T QUIT

In contrast, Colleague Two has been chomping at the bit for nearly two years as a fundraiser, making connections and speaking with people on how to innovate their organization. He hustled in the best sense of the word and has not seen the results that he wanted. He says, he has become so frustrated by the sector not embracing his level of ambition he has considered leaving fundraising all together. He is motivated by his desire to support a family but blind ambition has impaired both that goal and his career. His blind ambition is not only impairing his career goals but because he cannot find a job is hindering his ability to reach personal goals, like supporting a family.

I find myself somewhere in the middle of One and Two. There are weeks where I network with industry colleagues almost every day, reading up to 20 fundraising blogs, and checking out job postings to make sure my skills are remaining competitive. Then there are weeks where I just want to go home and catch up with my old friend Netflix. The difficulty of being a young educated professional is that we are bursting with ideas but are not in a position to implement. Some of us are lucky to have supervisors who let us channel this creativity in our roles but I know this is not the case for most.

So what is one to do about all this? How do you channel your ambition is without any of the side effects my colleagues are experiencing? So far this is what I have found works for me:

1) Know thyself. What is your ambition driving you toward? To make a certain salary level, to reach a certain title, to be valuable enough to make your own schedule and hours, to be out of the office in time to take the kids to soccer, or all of the above? Know what it is you want and then be judicious about how you get there. Saying yes to anything is a good way to open doors but if you are not careful it is also a good way to lose focus.

2) Eyes on your own paper. Ambition can be fueled by jealousy and internal expectation. Do your best not to worry what others  and focus on what YOU can be doing to get where you want to go. It is an important reminder of what we all learned at a young age – it does not matter where anyone else on the test, or in this case their career, you will not succeed unless you focus on what you need to do.

3) This is a marathon. As a young professional, you have at least another 35 years ahead of you in your career. You cannot do it all at once.  It can be frustrating in the day to day when ambition or lack thereof is nagging at you but know that whatever you are working toward will all come with time.

As I approach my 30s, I realize that ambition is going to continue to be an important piece of my career puzzle. So fellow fundraisers – how did you figure it out in the early days of your career? Did you find that driving ambition was helpful or tempered level of ambition was just fine?

Let’s talk about it. @charitablelaura

Laura Campion PhotoLaura Champion is Donor Relations Coordinator at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. She has a thirst for fundraising knowledge and is always open to discussion. You can find her on twitter @charitablelaura.