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.

 

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

Tara George, CFRE, Senior Vice President – Lead, Search Practice at KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.), talks career advice with Cynthia Foo, Grants Manager at Environmental Defence.

CF: If you had to pick three “must have” attributes for the fundraiser today, what would you say these would be?

TG: Goal orientation – Regardless of the fundraising role, the individual has to be able to formulate goals, marshal resources, and deliver results. This takes persistence.

Communications savvy – All messages, written and verbal, regardless of channel, have to reinforce the strategy and drive results. Fundraisers have to be exceptional listeners.

Service orientation – The fundraiser has to really seek to spotlight the cause and others’ priorities, rather than one’s own. And if you do that with effective communications savvy, those three things are really fundamental and critical.

CF: How important is the role of a good fundraising manager?

TG: People can learn and model, but training is a factor. In the fundraising world I often hear people describe themselves as a “solo warrior”, or a “lone wolf”. Fundraisers who started young, and never managed other people for example, can get stuck at a certain level because of lack of opportunities to obtain diversity of experience.

So my advice to fundraisers is this: gain people and business management skills – learn about theory, and gain knowledge of best and emerging practices. You don’t become a good manager by accident: continuous learning is a key ingredient of the recipe for success!

CF: What about advice for mid-career fundraisers?

TG: This is the time to broaden your scope of fundraising, gain experience in other areas beyond your narrow field of expertise and prepare for more senior positions. You don’t get to be the CEO if you are just a specialist!

However, I don’t think of a career as a ladder, I think of it as a web. For example, someone who starts in event fundraising may need to go sideways to go up a level. Their event position may lead to an expanded role in communications which develops into learning about digital fundraising, or deeper involvement in annual giving.

I often hear complaints that employers can’t pay for all of employees’ courses and their training, but I say that you are responsible for your life and career – so why wouldn’t you invest in yourself? Don’t let these things stand in the way. I paid for my MBA myself – it was tough, but it was important to my growth, and I’m glad I did it.

CF: What are the three most common mistakes when marketing oneself in the job market?

TG: People come in ready to present their skillsets but they don’t know anything about the organization. Do the research and show your passion and knowledge about the organization and the cause. And it needs to be genuine – you can’t fake it.

The second common mistake is that people are not properly prepared for the interview process. Make sure you understand the role and provide evidence to back up your success. I’m always surprised to see people who can’t clearly identify the metrics of their success – either in percentage or numbers of donors increased. For a group of people who hang their hat on dollars, identifying numbers in their resumes is a must!

Finally, the most common mistake: Being too self-centered – not showing examples of contributing to the success of others and not recognizing the importance of team work.

No one landed their first seven-figure major gift completely single-handedly. Most likely, there was someone who did prospecting, others who did stewardship in the organization and so on. Demonstrating how you work with others is important!

CF: What do you see as reasons for high turnover in the nonprofit sector? And what do you see as the current biggest challenges facing employee retention?

TG: Generally speaking, high turnover in any position in any sector is not healthy and it’s not good for the individual: it can stain their reputation. When there’s supply and demand, the perception that the “grass is greener on the other side” heightens the sense of opportunity. I think people really should do their homework to make sure they can be satisfied and happy where they are and where they think they would like to go.

In my role, I hear people comment that money is the main motivator, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Often people move for personal satisfaction – they want to learn and grow and be challenged. Of course, people want better titles and money. But more importantly, they want to have impact and be engaged in their work, to be respected. Managers can play a huge role in making employees feel really good about their accomplishments and excited about what they’re learning – even when the organization cannot offer more money.

In today’s market, employers are showing less loyalty, so employees are doing the same. I think it’s important that employers hire for values – when that happens, the turnover rates drop. Hire people for their values and retain like-minded people who want to stay.

CF: Thank you so much for your time, Tara! As a parting thought – what are some of the fun things you do in your spare time?

TG: I love to read! I especially love to read novels and read a couple of novels a week. Sometimes I read business books: I enjoyed The End of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther-McGrath, which I won as a door prize at Congress. She was an excellent speaker there that year. I also read “Thinking Strategically” by Harvard Business Review, and The First 90 Days by Watkins. Every morning I also scan the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and the Harvard Business Review, in addition to a number of other sites.

 

Tara GeorgeTara George, CFRE – Senior VP Lead, Search Practice, KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.)

As the Lead Consultant for KCI’s Search Practice, Tara has successfully led more than 150 recruitment assignments for a range of non-profit clients across Canada. A respected advancement professional with extensive networks in Canada and beyond, Tara has a clear sense of the strategic vision, leadership skills and business acumen necessary to succeed in the nonprofit arena.

 

CynthiaFooCynthia Foo – Grants Manager, Environmental Defence

Cynthia Foo is the Grants Manager at Environmental Defence,a national environmental charity that just celebrated its 30th anniversary. She helps strategize, secure and steward foundations’ giving to help her organization grow. She also currently sits on the AFP Toronto Ethics Committee, and serves on the Board of the West-End Food Co-op and the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto.

 

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