A moment to reflect back and look forward. Learn from experts in the field who have been instrumental in building the fundraising practice, to what it is today, as they share their learnings and breadth of knowledge.

The Fireside Chat is a career retrospective where experts will share what they have learned, what they wished someone had told them, and what they see for the future of fundraising. Delegates will have the opportunity to ask questions, so come prepared! Session may end early.

Steve Thomas, CFRE

Chairman & Executive Creative Director

Stephen Thomas Ltd.

Steve Thomas has been described as both the ‘Guru' and the 'Godfather' of Canadian direct response fundraising. Though he started off life as a historical geographer and a teacher, he has been a fundraiser for well over 40 years.  Steve's early career began with Oxfam Canada as Development Director, where he established their direct mail program as Canada's first modern and scientific use of the medium. In the 1970s Oxfam grew to become one of Canada's leading charities, mainly through the successful use of direct mail.

In 1980, Steve founded Stephen Thomas Associates (now Stephen Thomas Limited), Canada's first direct response fundraising agency working exclusively in the not-for-profit sector. Over the years, Steve has worked with thousands of charitable and not-for-profit organizations in Canada, the U.S. and internationally. His contribution to the industry was recognized by the Canadian Marketing Association in 1998 when Steve was awarded the Directors' Choice Lifetime Achievement Award and by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Toronto Chapter in 2002 where he received the Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award. In 2006, Steve was honoured by Amnesty International for 25 years of service.

A gifted speaker and presenter, Steve has lectured world-wide on the topics of marketing and fundraising, and is frequently called upon by groups throughout North America and abroad.  He has worked in Australia off and on since the mid eighties.

One of the original founders and past Chair of the Canadian Fundraising Congress, Steve is past president of the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter.  Steve is past Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Humber College Post Graduate Fundraising Program.

Steve was Canadian Ambassador of the International Fundraising Conference (IFC) from 1993-2008.  He was Chair of the IFC in 2004 and 2005.  He served on the Board of its parent, the Resource Alliance, for eight years and left as Co-Chair in October 2010.

In 2007/8 Steve was Fundraiser in Residence at York University. And in 2009-10 the chairman of the Amnesty International Human Rights House Campaign.

In 2012 Steve published 30 Letters that Changed the World and in 2013 joined the Board of Canada’s History Society.  He is also on the board of Strategic Communications, the fundraising and polling firm.

As a resident and former businessman in the Beaches of Toronto, Steve carries his belief of involvement and political activism to the community where he has coached high school basketball for twenty-seven years.