Posted by & filed under Crowdfunding, Digital, Marketing/Communications, Mobile Giving, Next Generation Philanthropy, Social Media, Special Events.


Jessica Lewis, Fundraising Innovation Consultant, hjc

With all the buzz surrounding the Boston marathon this week, it brings back memories of my last race in New York in November. I caught the marathon bug a few years ago, running my first one in Toronto in 2012 and then Chicago the following year. After running Chicago, I decided that I wanted to complete another major marathon and was determined to run New York.

You can get into the New York marathon by either gaining entry through the lottery system, qualifying with extremely fast race times (speedier than Boston) or signing up with a charity team. I decided to sign up to run and fundraise for Team for Kids, which is the New York marathon’s partner charity that supports New York Road Runners by offering health and fitness programs to children in under-served schools across the United States.

I chose to run with Team for Kids for two main reasons. One, I felt a connection to the cause. Two, the minimum fundraising goal was $2,620 which seemed achievable in comparison to other participating charity requirements. It might not seem like a lot of money, but I knew that I would likely depend on the support of my peers for micro-donations of $25 on average. Breaking down my total goal meant that I would need to get over 100 people to donate to my personal fundraising page. According to The Next Generation of Canadian Giving, 64% of Gen Ys are 1-2 times more likely than Gen X, Boomers and Matures to support someone else raising money on behalf of a charity. Most of my peers fall within Gen Y, so at least I had a better chance at gaining their support!

At hjc, we have been doing a lot more work with our clients around mapping optimal donor journeys, which has often led to improving the overall experience (and conversion rates) for event participants. It got me thinking about my journey running with Team for Kids – from the first touch point of creating a profile online to receiving the alumni newsletter.

If I were to map out my own journey with Team for Kids it would look something like this:

  • I created a profile with Team for Kids and received a confirmation email
  • I received multiple confirmation emails, including an acknowledgment of my self-pledge, a summary of my registration payment and a fundraising agreement outlining my commitment to raise $2,620 by October 1st
  • I received a fundraising kick-off email with ample resources to kick start my fundraising and sent out my first donation e-appeal asking friends and family for support
  • I received the first donation to my personal fundraising page!
  • I received weekly coaching emails over the 5 months leading up to the event, which included both fundraising and training tips, and inspired me to host my own fundraising event
  • I posted a link to my personal fundraising page on Facebook asking my friends for support
  • There were other emails, videos, conference calls that included multiple resources for both fundraising and running. These resources were inspirational and connected me to the cause.
  • I hosted a cocktail party to raise money for Team for Kids and reached my fundraising goal!
  • I got race day reminders (e.g. transportation, pre marathon breakfast) and started packing for my trip to New York
  • I ran the New York marathon!
  • After the event, I received a congratulations email
  • I received a post event survey
  • I am now subscribed to the Team for Kids alumni newsletter

In addition to receiving email communications from Team for Kids, I followed their charity page on Facebook to connect with other participants. Because of this, on the day of the marathon I got the VIP experience and was able to jump on the charity bus to go to the starting line and huddle inside the Team for Kids tent to stay warm. Not to mention, the charity had also arranged for access to hot water for my pre-race ritual meal of oatmeal and a banana. After crossing the finish line, I was welcomed by a nice volunteer who helped me stumble over to the finisher’s tent to rest my tired legs after a grueling 42 kilometers through all 5 boroughs of the city.

My journey from start to finish was fantastic – from the first Team for Kids coaching email to the post-race tent. This could have been dramatically different if the charity didn’t provide me with resources to help me reach my fundraising goal, such as social media banners I could re-purpose for my efforts, or inspirational stories that were shared with me along the way to build my connection to the cause. Not to mention, the race day support like hot water and a cozy post marathon tent. These were moments that mattered to me.

Putting on my consultant hat, they did everything right. Team for Kids provided me with the tools and support to reach my fundraising goal. We know from our work with non-profit clients that journey mapping is effective in increasing donor conversion rates and building more personal relationships with constituents.

Does your organization personalize and optimize the experience for event participants? What does your current journey look like for participants from the time they register to the day of the event? Do you know what your supporters would consider the ‘moments that matter?’

Jessica Lewis is a Fjessicalewisundraising Innovation Consultant at hjc, a global consulting agency in the nonprofit sector. She helps her clients use online technologies to fundraise, advocate and build brand awareness. If you want to chat further about this topic you can reach Jessica at jessica.lewis@hjcnewmedia.comYou can follow her on Twitter @jessklewis.


Posted by & filed under Announcement.


AFP and The Globe and Mail are partnering to produce “Donors and Volunteers: The Heart of Philanthropy,” a special supplement that will showcase the incredible work being done by individual philanthropists across the country.

Canada’s charitable sector provides countless services and programs to Canadians across the country. From healthcare to poverty relief, education to job training – and every other issue in in between – charities have improved the quality of life in so many ways for all Canadians. But none of it is possible without two critical ingredients: donors and volunteers. Canadians are as passionate about their philanthropic practices as they are generous, donating more than $10-billion every year. In addition, it is estimated that more than 15 million Canadians give to charity every year, while many more engage in the charitable sector in countless ways – through volunteering, mentoring, or raising awareness of causes online.

Even as Canadians continue to support charities at record levels, the demographics of Canadian donors and volunteers are changing. Produced in partnership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, this special feature will provide an in-depth look at Canadian donors and volunteers as new generations and groups come to the forefront. What do donors and volunteers want, and are their needs and expectations of charities changing?

Publishing: JUNE 12, 2015 I Space closing: MAY 1, 2015 I Material Deadline: JUNE 5, 2015

Contact information


Posted by & filed under Announcement.

By Kimberley MacKenzie

If you take a moment to close your eyes and imagine your ideal major donor what do you see? Do see a man in a suit sitting at a desk? Or, do you envision the woman who volunteers at your charity once a week doing whatever needs to be done?

Women have been at the core of this sector since the beginning of charitable work. With a few exceptions, women are predominantly the ones who identify the need in the community, design and deliver the charitable program to fill the need, and provide the majority of volunteer and staff time. Yet, we rarely think about gender differences when planning our fundraising programs.

Women and money

TD Waterhouse has conducted the first in-depth review of the presence and influence of female philanthropists in Canada. Not only are Canadian women wealthier than they ever have been, they are also more likely to donate to charity. Even better, when they do donate, their average gift is higher.

According to TD Waterhouse, Canadian women control approximately one third of the household wealth in Canada. This represents approximately $1.1 trillion in financial assets. By 2020, this figure is expected to reach $3 trillion.

So what do women want? 

That is one tough question! Especially when it comes to how women like to interact with their favourite charity. In focus groups across the country, there wasn’t any one single motivating factor that inspired women to get involved and donate to one charity over another. As one participant stated:

“Philanthropy is a thing of the heart. It is not just money.”

However there were several themes that kept surfacing in discussions. These themes are worthy of mention:

  • Giving is embedded in family values and something they would like to pass onto their children.
  • Participants wanted to see their gifts put to work during their lifetime.
  • As one’s philanthropic activities mature, there is a tendency to give to fewer charities in order to have greater impact.
  • Local issues often surfaced as being of highest importance.
  • Becoming involved as a volunteer is seen as an important part of due diligence before making a gift.
  • There is a concern about the high rate of executive and staff turn-over in charities.

Avoid under-thanking and over-asking

Stewardship seems to be of prevailing importance:

“In all discussion groups, women mentioned the importance of expressing personal thanks to donors, irrespective of the amount of the gift. Charities that merely sent a tax receipt were criticized, as were charities that immediately sent a request for an additional donation before the initial gift had even been put to use. The message was clear: Charities need to avoid under-thanking and over-asking.

As I see it, these findings point to good old-fashioned relationship fundraising. I would like to see more research conducted where male donors are asked the same questions and provided the same opportunities to participate in focus groups. If this happened, I wonder if the results would point to gender differences. Or, would we conclude that major gift donors, regardless of gender, require a one-on-one tailored approach to developing a relationship with your charity?

Having said that, this study does raise an important point. As our population ages, women are becoming wealthier and are more likely to give to charity. It is important to be mindful of this as we develop our outreach and prospect pipeline. Don’t assume that your major gift prospects are in the financial district of major cities. They may be in your office right now, helping to answer the phones.

Read the full whitepaper on Canadian women in philanthropy from TD Waterhouse here. Don’t miss the upcoming The Charitable Soul of York Region Event: Women in Philanthropy – May 7th in Markham.

Kimberley MacKenzie is deeply passionate about building the capacity of the charitable sector. As editor of Hilborn, Charity eNEWS, she is always sourcing out excellent content to share. Kimberley also works with a variety of organizations to advance a culture of philanthropy among staff and senior volunteers, and ultimately raise more money for their missions and serves as a member of the Relationship Fundraising Advisory council for the Rogare Think Tank. Contact her via@kimberleycanadaemail her, or visit

Posted by & filed under Announcement.


On February 25, the Ethics Resources Committee of AFP’s Greater Toronto Chapter hosted a first-ever ethics panel breakfast at The Albany Club with our partners from the Canadian Centre for Ethics and Corporate Governance. Development professionals and private sector executives gathered together to participate with leaders in corporate giving and volunteering to discuss ethics in the sector.

Panelists included:

  • Shari Austin, vice president, corporate citizenship and executive director, RBC Foundation who spoke about relationships with corporate partners.
  • George Fierheller, a well-known volunteer leader, discussed the core values needed to succeed in the profession.
  • Jo-Anne Ryan, vice president, philanthropy, TD Wealth, reviewed the special considerations around working with financial advisors and individuals of wealth.
  • Darrell Gregersen, president & CEO, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) served as the moderator.

In light of the fact that ethics is a prevalent topic in both the charitable and corporate and governmental worlds, the session is the first of a series that the Ethics Resources Committee is organizing as a strategy to provide a forum for leaders in the charitable sector to discuss current ethical issues in an open, supportive format that directly involves the donors and volunteers with whom development professionals work. Some of the key highlights from the discussion are shared below.

Topic: Relationships with corporate partners (Shari Austin)

Corporations are often seen as having “deep pockets,” and that a request for funds will be automatically delivered upon.  Shari spoke to the need for cultivating, nurturing, and stewarding good relationships that are based on a long-term outlook and mutual respect.  While many of the points below might seem foreign, they happen more than we might expect and warrant discussion for the benefit of benefactor and beneficiary alike.

1. Do not stretch your case to fit the guidelines. Honestly and factually represent your organization’s needs for what they truly are rather than trying to “fit” them into a set of giving guidelines. If it’s a stretch to make the funding request fit, then it’s probably not a legitimate proposal to begin with. When it reaches the other side, it will likely not represent the organization well.

2. Use granted funds for the purposes intended. If a contribution has been granted, be sure to use the funds for the intention for which they were raised. If there is any possibility that the organization would benefit from using them for purposes other than what they were granted for, a formal request ought to be made of the corporate partner. It is important to understand where the donor is coming from: often, the corporate partner will want to measure the outcomes of these types of donations to ensure they too are achieving what they set out to do in terms of community impact.

3. Be transparent about your financial situation – no matter how bad. If your organization is struggling financially (and many are, especially those that receive government funding where there are cutbacks and freezes), be up front about it. Chances are, the situation is known already anyway, but more importantly, it’s a sin of omission. If you are getting into a relationship with an organization, they deserve to know your internal situation. Often times, funders have great strategic insights that can help with financial pressures.

Topic: Personal integrity  (George Fierheller)

Regardless of where you work, there are bound to be ethical issues. Every person has a different background, and each of us has a unique perspective. All of us have different levels of comfort in dealing with ethical dilemmas too, and often times addressing them can feel like “confrontation” and make people feel “ashamed.” Personal integrity must be encouraged to give people the confidence to speak up, especially to their superiors, if need be.

1. Your integrity is everything. There is no “perfect job” that is worth sacrificing your personal integrity for. Always remember this if you feel threatened in any way, and stand your ground to discern what is really going on, who to talk to, actions to take, and how to find solutions. If a solution cannot be found within the frame of reason, the job is not worth it.

2. “If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!” Your gut tells you everything you need to know. Follow it. Even if you are unable to articulate with clarity what is not “right,” let people know you do not “feel right” about an ethical situation. Others will help you to figure it out. We trust each other’s guts, and if someone is brave enough to say something, others will join in.

3. Your organization trusts you to do the right thing. Fundraisers have a very specialized set of skills. More than other professions, those skills need to be utilized with care and concern because of the element of trust involved in your interactions with donors and volunteers. Follow your gut and your heart, and if it is difficult to make a choice or speak up, think of your organization and what its stakeholders would want you to do.

Topic: Working with financial advisors and individuals of wealth (Jo-Anne Ryan)

Increasingly, donors are seeking the advice and support of experts to help them to identify and work with charities that share their values and sense of personal mission. This includes not only determining giving in the present, but also in estate planning.

1. The donor landscape is changing. Donors, especially older ones, are leaving less money to their children and more to charity. This is a significant change that speaks to the broadening of altruism beyond the family unit.

2. Giving in the “now.” Donors are also giving in current terms to experience their own philanthropy and be connected to cause and beneficiaries. They want the satisfaction of witnessing and experiencing their giving while they are alive!

3. Short and long-term giving plans: Advisors are helping donors to develop short and immediate term donation plans that help to address tax needs, and to facilitate giving in the now. However, simultaneously, they are also creating long-term plans that enable the donor to create a legacy of support that expresses their deepest values long after they have gone.

4. Fundraisers need to educate themselves now! Fundraisers need to know what financial advisors know now in order to provide meaningful support to donors, who are looking for serious advice when it comes to giving. Above all, be transparent about your organization’s needs, finances, future and plans, and engage your donors to interact with each other as a community of like-minded supporters connected by the same vision and commitment. Also, facilitate their ability to share the good news of your organization with their networks.

In the End

All three panellists agreed that fundraisers can be put into extremely difficult situations either by donors or volunteers, and that all the skill and education is sometimes not enough to deal with situations that betray personal integrity. In these cases, their best advice is to resign. (This is a topic we will discuss in more detail at a later date.

Some of the recommendations coming from the panelists included:

  • Ensure there are approved gift acceptance policies (this includes policies on what to do if you must return a gift)
  • Ensure and support constant regulation of gift solicitation and acceptance
  • Support processes that eliminate ethical issues (i.e. an approved list of individuals or corporations for which the organization will not accept a gift)
  • Ensure regular meetings on ethics (host an ethics luncheon at your office!) to keep the conversation open and allow junior fundraisers to bring forward questions

Article was submitted by Valerie Campbell, chair, Ethics Resources Committee, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Toronto Area Chapter. The Ethics Resources Committee works to enliven the discussion about ethics in fundraising and the charitable sector. The committee’s role is to inform, promote, educate, and be a think tank on ethics.

Posted by & filed under Marketing/Communications, Opinion, Stewardship/Donor Relations, Volunteers.

Marc Ralsky, Director, Community and Donor Development
Ontario SPCA

“We paid our dues from back in the day.”

“I am 10 or 20 years into my career.”group-conversation

“I don’t have to talk to donors or see them or call them.”

“We can just shoot them an email.”

My sense is a lot of us in the sector have forgotten some of the basic components of making a connection and raising money:

  • Talking to people in the flesh, or a novel approach – on the phone!
  • Writing a handwritten note (have you seen your handwriting lately?)
  • Speaking to a donor or potential donor face-to-face, even if we are not the major gift officer or planned gift lead

We have all embraced the digital age – integrating this, integrating that, adding SEO and SEM to optimize and measure clicks and visits. We have multi-channel campaigns that are supported by social media, emails, maybe some telemarketing and then followed up by a reminder email or two. We have organizational websites that rarely link to people – though some in the sector have now added a “Click here to speak to a live person!” – a new experience!

Of course digital fundraising and all its associated activities provide us with great tactics that work. They raise money efficiently and effectively. I know they do – my team has won international integrated marketing awards. So, am I contradicting myself? No. But I realized there is a piece that was missing.

It ‘clicked’ for me during a visioning session with our vendors in a meeting before the holiday break. We came up with a key value in the animal welfare sector: the human-animal bond.  It got me thinking while walking my dogs before work on these past cold dark mornings: What about the human to human bond? What are we doing with that in our nonprofit charitable sector? Where did it go?

We rarely hear about our sector holding events that are not fundraising events anymore – events that plainly are designed so people can talk to others with interest in the same cause. Instead we invite our stakeholders to join a Facebook page or a private password protected microsite where people can download materials to read about their cause of interest, alone in their own space. We have removed the human bond obtained through direct in-person interaction.

I recently suggested the idea of holding education open house events in one of our centres that wants to re-invigorate its connection to the surrounding community. The response I received was WOW – what a great idea! They will come to us? Yes, I thought, just like they did before. Remember when people called into to charities asking for educational brochures to learn about various diseases and treatments? I think it’s now called inbound marketing…

We all attend conferences or breakfast meetings and more than 75% of the sessions talk about creating a relationship with your donors. Usually, the presentations focus on how to email them or get them to like and share your social media page. We spend more time at conferences with like-minded colleagues then we probably do talking to and mingling with donors and stakeholders at all levels of our organizations. And yet, we have somehow decided that it is no longer efficient to meet and interact with our donors in person.

People love people. Our worst fear as humans is being alone or feeling like we are the only one with a specific problem or interest. We like affinity groups! How about making strong in-person connections with people and keeping them on file longer?

My challenge to our sector is this: let’s get back to basics. Let’s integrate some real human to human bond back into our integrated inbound marketing strategies. Imagine what will happen if we do all the digital channels and add in some real opportunities to talk to our donors, stakeholders, clients and the public. Try chatting about why your charity was originally established and how the work you do is made possible each day. Think about the opportunities that will present themselves when people meet and find others who have the same issues or challenges or likes. Doors will open. People will see the faces behind the names and endless emails and texts they receive from us.

As our moms told us: Try it, you will like it!

Ralsky_MarcMarc Ralsky is Director, Community and Donor Development at Ontario SPCA. He is a seasoned fundraiser with close to 20 years experience working with organizations and volunteer groups to achieve successful outcomes.His practical streetwise common sense approach to peer to peer, event management and fundraising in general allows him to innovatively offer knowledge and experience to develop insights and recommendations that will help not for profit and volunteer groups to achieve measurable growth.

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Crowdfunding, Digital, Ethics, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion, Social Media.

The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Often, it starts with a tragedy, illness, or fueling an ambition. Then it goes viral, raising thousands of dollars for someone in need or for a particular cause. This is the new world of direct giving. But as we see more personal crowdfunding, questions are raised about why we give, how the funds are distributed and what we expect of the role of community and the state in supporting one another. The Agenda takes a look the state of charitable giving in the age of disruptive technology. This program features Caroline Riseboro – AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Board Member and  Senior VP of Development with CAMH Foundation.

Posted by & filed under Grant Management, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Cynthia Foo, Grants Manager, Environmental Defence

As a contract and full-time fundraiser who has specialized in both giving and soliciting grants, I’ve come across a few misconceptions on what encourages foundations to give. Here are some common mistakes and what you can do to correct them:

1. I shouldn’t contact the foundation to pitch our work because it says “no unsolicited propflower-22656_640osals” on their website.

Most foundations make this advisory as they lack the staff to handle application questions from the larger public. However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to find a point of contact where possible—especially if your work is a close fit with the foundation’s interests and granting history.

Be prepared to dig deeper within your organization: find out the Board connections between your organization and theirs; work out relationships which may get an in-person meeting with the foundation’s steering committee; or if all else fails, send a polite, short (1-2 paragraph) e-mail to the contact on your proposed targeted approach, and ask whether the foundation would be interested in finding out more.

2. I shouldn’t contact a foundation in advance of my grant application because it will just annoy them.

As someone who has worked for both a corporation disbursing grants and for a charity soliciting foundations grants, my first-hand experience is that no foundation actively soliciting grants has ever expressed annoyance at an initial call or e-mail, especially if it’s an opportunity to offer insights on what can be improved.

When I worked for a disbursing organization, I spent an inordinate amount of time reviewing applications that were just not a good fit, or were truly puzzling in their approach. Some of the applications that came across my desk demonstrated no overlap with the mission of the funding organization, no explanation of how the work would enhance the funder’s mandate, and had no indication of how the grant would help the charity succeed if they received funding. In most cases, these were grant proposals from organizations which I knew and respected.

I would have been glad to have saved their grants officer and their staff the time and hassle of submitting a flawed application if they had just called or e-mailed me at the outset. And I would have been more than happy to try to strengthen the application before it went up the ladder for review. If an organization is in the business to give out grants, they are motivated to see applications succeed.

3. When creating interim or final reports, I should write to the foundation with the same friendly tone that I use in my newsletters and general communications with individual donors.

Most foundations are interested in metrics, not only in heartwarming stories. While funders are keen to find out the effects of their granting in compelling narratives, foundations’ structures require greater demonstrations of returns-on-donation than individual donors may demand. What did the grant help advance? How many did it help your organization serve? How did it help change people’s lives? The foundation’s board will ask for these facts as it will help them determine their own measures of success in the community, and will help them set clear strategic directions in the future.

4. I should follow all of my foundation funder’s instructions and only submit applications online and submit reports when they say to do so in the grant agreement. Any other attempts to contact them will be seen as a nuisance.

This is the most common misconception I hear when talking to grant writers or other fundraising staff. Most foundations are sophisticated organizations which appreciate being treated as partners in funding. In this respect, stewardship techniques when dealing with foundations are very much akin to those used when dealing with major donors—share your results early, and often; make sure you trumpet your wins, and most of all, make sure you alert your funder early if a proposed course of work ends up being derailed and you realize you won’t be able to do what you said you’d be able to in your proposal. Most funders understand that the work they are funding is at risk of the inevitable chaos of life—someone leaves for another job, someone gets sick, or someone just plain forgets to do something because they didn’t read the application properly.

Making sure that clear communication is established with the foundation funder all along the way—not just at the time of reporting or proposal—is key in ensuring long-term, rewarding relationships. In fact, this approach generally helps create opportunities to increase giving from these foundations in the long-run as your own organization grows.

5. When a foundation rejects my grant application, I should file it and/or not bother reapplying.

Most foundation funders want to see applications succeed. If they reject your grant application, chances are there are good reasons why. Perhaps your budget needed to be weighted differently. Maybe your approach didn’t fit their priorities this year. Or perhaps it was just bad timing and they’d already allocated funds to another charity. Any of these reasons would allow you to alter your approach and resubmit your application next year.

Best of all, contacting the foundation to ask for feedback on what could be improved helps nurture the budding relationship between the potential funder and the charity, which is always helpful when asking for support. It’s easy to be disheartened, but it’s better to learn and reposition for the next round.


Since 2010, Cynthia Foo has helped charities increase their foundations grants funding. She has worked for Human Rights Watch (NYC) and is currently employed as the Grants Manager by Environmental Defence Canada, a national environmental charity. She also currently provides foundations fundraising assistance to Hincks-Dellcrest Foundation and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In the summer, she teaches kayakking and stand-up paddleboarding and loves to spend lazy afternoons in the sun with her dog Chauncey. You can follow Cynthia on Twitter at @cynthfoo or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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 Announcement.

The AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada has received a multiyear grant, valued at $403,674, from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade to create a fellowship program that will support and train fundraisers from diverse backgrounds.

This is the second grant that the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada has received from the Ontario government. The first grant supported a three year project, From Diversity to Inclusion in Philanthropy: An Action Plan for Ontario’s Charitable Sector, which brought together donors, fundraisers, volunteers and charity leaders from twelve different communities to share insights about the giving traditions and interests of emerging philanthropic groups across the province.

The second grant, which will cover a 25 month period, will create a pipeline of diverse fundraising leadership through specialized training, education and mentorship opportunities for new and mid-career fundraising professionals from underrepresented communities.

“Through the first grant, we’ve created training and educational materials that can help fundraisers engage our incredibly diverse communities with meaning and sincerity,” said Scott Decksheimer, CFRE, chair of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada. “Now with this fellowship program, we will be able to nurture and support fundraisers that reflect the communities we serve. All of us at the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada thank the Ontario government for their support of this project and their belief in the importance of advancing inclusion within the sector.”

The project will support 70 fellows across Ontario. Each fellow will receive intensive professional development and mentorship opportunities, and will participate in organizational policy development on inclusion and equity issues.

“This project is a ground-breaking effort that will help embed inclusion throughout Ontario’s charitable and nonprofit sector,” said Andrew Watt, FInstF, president and CEO of AFP. “At the same time, it will build a significant cadre of diverse leaders who, with greater knowledge of inclusive leadership and fundraising best practices, will have a meaningful impact on their own professional work, as well as the broader charitable sector.”

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.