Posted by & filed under Announcement, Congress, Fundraising, Marketing/Communications, Metrics, Opinion.

 

Another week closer to Congress 2021 and our second podcast episode dives into the future of fundraising in the digital world, donor analytics, segmenting data, Bitcoin gifts and much, much more. Listen now for early insights into what’s to come with host Kashaf Mansoor and our special guests and Congress speakers, Sam Laprade and Jason Shim. 

 

Sam Laprade, Marketing Director of Gryphon Fundraising and host of “The Sam Laprade Show” & “An Hour to Give” on CityNews 101.1 & News 95.7 will be presenting Fish In Your Own Pond: Strategies to Engage Donors. In this session she will delve into the value and power of diving head first into your own current database, combining key metrics and strong stewardship – a proven formula to build donor engagement. Sam breaks it down step-by-step, including over 10 different metrics you need to measure – today! 

 

 

 

 

Jason Shim, co-author of “Bitcoin and The Future of Fundraising” and Director of Digital Strategy and Transformation at Pathways to Education Canada will be co-presenting, Creating Amazing Digital Experiences for Your Staff and Supporters AND Bitcoin and the Future of Fundraising. Jason and Naresh Da Silva, Senior Marketing Manager at Pathways to Education Canada, will share current meaningful strategies to engage your donors and how to design intentional digital experiences. In Bitcoin and the Future of Fundraising, Jason and Anne Connelly, Faculty at Singularity University, will show us how to set up a cryptocurrency donation program at your organization. 

 

Listen on your podcast player now, or bookmark for later! This is the second in a series of 4 podcasts to prepare you for your best Congress yet!

 

And while you’re at it, REGISTER TODAY for #Congress2021 to hear from our incredible lineup of speakers, including Sam, Jason and many more!  

 

Special thanks our Congress 2021 Podcast SponsorKCK Global Limited.

Posted by & filed under Announcement, Career Development, Congress, Diversity, Donor Centric, Donor communications, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion, Speakers, Special Events.

 

Curious what Congress is all about, or itching to hear what’s new from speakers this year? Check out the first episode in our AFP Congress Preview Podcast!

 

Congress 2021 Volunteer, Sue Lockett, hosts a sneak peek of session content with inspiring conference speakers, Holly Wagg and Ligia Pena.

 

PODCAST HIGHLIGHTS:

 

 

Holly Wagg, Partner and CEO at Good Works, shares how her panel session The Next Generation of Non-Profit Leaders will present the real career journeys of industry leaders. While the path is usually different than you plan, it is rewarding. In another panel session, Holly shares how participants will explore Exploitation v.s. Empowerment, and receive tips on how to tell respectful, authentic stories. 

 

 

 

 

Ligia Pena and Alexis Gaiptman will present Culture Shock: Understanding Death Rituals and Superstitions. Their session challenges attendees to consider more effective and thoughtful legacy marketing, by adapting to diverse cultural identities to promote inclusivity. Ligia’s chats about how her other session The Future of Legacy Giving will help attendees understand the differences between generations of legacy prospects. She plans to share strategies on how to engage the next generation of legacy donors to increase future legacy revenue for your organization.

 

Listen on your podcast player — to the first in a series of 4 podcasts — to prepare you for your best Congress yet!

 

And while you’re at it, REGISTER TODAY for #AFPCongress2021 to hear from our incredible lineup of speakers, including Holly and Ligia. 

 

 

Special thanks our Congress 2021 Podcast Sponsor, KCK Global Limited.

 

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Announcement, Board of Directors, Diversity, Ethics, Government Relations, Inspiration, Marketing/Communications, Uncategorized.

September 29

TORONTO

 

AFP Greater Toronto will observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation tomorrow as a day of true reflection – reflecting on our privilege not to be part of the legacy of the residential school system.

 

Tomorrow also coincides with Orange Shirt Day in observance of the Indigenous children taken from their homes and forced to attend residential schools. We continue to be appalled by the many discoveries of mass graves near sites of several former residential schools, and though we can never truly fathom the pain, we recognize the trauma these discoveries have had, and wholeheartedly express our solidarity and support to the Indigenous community.

 

Reconciling with Indigenous communities is our shared responsibility as a sector. In keeping with our IDEA mandate, we will continue working towards promoting and supporting Indigenous initiatives and a culture of inclusivity, diversity, equity, and access for all, as a high priority goal.

 

We plan to use this day to further educate ourselves while reflecting on the horrendous history and ongoing legacy of residential schools in our country. We are committed to working together towards creating a better space for Indigenous peoples. Developing an awareness, understanding Indigenous history and the multi-generational effects of the residential school system, and acknowledging our privilege are essential components of the reconciliation process.

 

We hope you, too, will make September 30 a day of reflection on how you and your organization can contribute to the reconciliation process and together commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. To learn more about National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, our Indigenous peoples’ cultures, stories, and experiences, start here.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Pawluk, CFRE

President, AFP Greater Toronto Board of Directors

Posted by & filed under Analytics, Announcement, Case Study, Congress, Corporate/Sponsorship, Crowdfunding, Digital, Donor communications, Fundraising, Fundraising Day, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Metrics, Networking, Opinion, Small Shop, Social Media, Special Events, Sponsorship.

 

The last few months have taken the world of events by storm, with some of us bravely adopting for virtual events during lockdown. As restrictions are slowly eased and we start planning to re-open, many are talking about hosting hybrid events going forward.

But what does that event mean and how do you produce a hybrid event exactly?

We answer some common questions to help bring you up to speed.

What is a hybrid event?

A hybrid event is exactly as it sounds, it is a combination of an in-person and virtual experience. There are two channels to the event that includes two audiences: onsite at the venue, and remotely online. The key to successful hybrid events, however, is the engagement between guests. Providing opportunities for your remote audience to interact and participate at the event and with the onsite guests will ensure no one feels like they are getting the short end of the stick. The audience should be able to participate and engage in the event equally, no matter where they are.

Remember, we are entering a new era following a pandemic and while some people are bursting at the seams to gather again, others will need more time to adjust and raise their confidence levels. Hybrid events enable us to safely gather onsite while providing an alternative option for those who want to participate from home. Furthermore, virtual events during lockdown helped many to expand their reach and audience size, so it’s definitely worth maintaining this wider reach to keep everyone engaged and interested.

 

How can I keep sponsors engaged in a virtual or hybrid event?

It’s important to understand that the virtual component to hybrid events isn’t just a simple video call – it’s a full-blown virtual experience. This means it is full of possibilities to engage sponsors and donors like never before. Consider offering opportunities for brand recognition and acknowledgments during the program and get really creative with sponsored content online and onsite. Despite the current climate, you will be surprised at the level of interest in supporting events in these new formats which have helped brands expand their reach and engage with both online and on-site audiences with detailed statistics.

Data analytics and reporting is gold dust when it comes to sponsorship and if you are reaching record high numbers in audience and engagement, share the stats with potential brands and be sure to include this information in your benefits package.

The best part is: hybrid and virtual events can actually offer more personalized options for sponsors to suit their specific needs. Not to mention, the overall convenience of managing virtual exhibit booths and engagement with attendees, remotely.

That said, there’s no reason why you should skip the traditional swag bags just because your event is virtual or hybrid. Consider mailing out sponsored goodie bags in advance of the event, with some treats to enjoy during the show. Or why not opt for virtual goodie bags? They can include digital coupons, free subscriptions, gift cards, virtual backgrounds and so much more.

Also, allow event sponsors to pitch their products and services during the breaks so that they can make their presence felt. It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s also worth remembering that this is a tech-enabled event so there is always the potential for something to go wrong, be sure to have sponsor commercials and material on standby for any snags or delays.

Finally, make your sponsors worth remembering by incorporating their brand and name in fun activities. A virtual game like a basic puzzle or scavenger hunt with sponsored names and products can inject so much fun while adding incredible value to the sponsorship.

The good thing is many brands are becoming more and more familiar with virtual and hybrid event formats and therefore know what to expect. The question is: are you prepared for this ‘new normal’ to stay ahead of the game?

 

How do you price an online event sponsorship?

Set your revenue goals before getting into the fine details of pricing. If you are producing an annual fundraiser, try to beat your previous year’s collections and determine clear targets.

The key to establishing pricing and securing virtual and hybrid event sponsors is by showcasing the overall value the event has to offer and the quality of interactivity with your audience. Healthy stats and data, as mentioned earlier will really help boost the value of your event and therefore provide opportunities to charge a premium for sponsorship.

Branding opportunities are the same at virtual and in-person events but in the case of hybrid, it’s doubled. This is because sponsors have the opportunity to engage with both in-person and online audiences. This again adds incredible value to the sponsorship.

The traditional tiered sponsorship grid is still relevant here and works really well when applied to both virtual and hybrid models. Just remember to get creative and tailor packages to meet the specific needs of your sponsors and always highlight the overall value by listing the available features for both online and onsite opportunities.

To help get you started, we created a sample sponsorship grid, which you can download and use for FREE.

 

Will it cost more to produce a hybrid event?

It depends. That’s the honest answer.

Yes, you can end up planning and spending on what appears to be two events; however, it’s important to think about all the requirements for your event and the necessary activities that need to take place on-site (including the number of guests and catering etc.) vs the features and interactivity requirements online.

Think about the overall purpose of the event and what your audience is expecting in terms of outcome. This will help filter between the overall scope of what is essential and what is considered a “nice-to-have.”

With various platforms and streaming options available, there are solutions for all types of events that work with various budgets. Allow yourself time to explore the options to make informed decisions about each component that will make up the moving parts of your hybrid experience.

 

Where do you begin to plan a hybrid event?

Take time to consider your event strategy and select an approach that will work best for your target audience. Determine the ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ of the event.

It’s important to understand the overall objective of your event, your demographic and what they like and dislike as well as how motivated they will be to participate online. Also think about the content you plan to deliver. It’s easier to hold attention of guests in-person but a little more challenging online, so keep virtual content short and digestible.

Also, consider where the in-person event will take place and whether or not the same content needs to be shared online at the exact same time. Hybrid allows guests to make the most of the content when and where it suits them – not to mention the convenience of access on-demand.

You also want to pinpoint where your remote audience will be tuning in from. This will help determine the most suitable time for your event across related time zones.

Finally, think about how you want the audience to consume your content. Live programming can be streamed in real-time but you can also make the most of simulive (pre-recorded and streamed live at a scheduled time) and on-demand content as well. There are various possibilities to help develop the ideal program for your audience.

Remember, virtual and hybrid events provide an opportunity to deliver high-quality and engaging content and are truly successful when you focus on boosting engagement and interactivity amongst your guests.

Good luck and happy planning!

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Author:

Ruby Sohi is Chief Event Organiser at Royal Blue Events Management. She has over 15 years experience in event production and marketing. Actively involved in the industry, she has served as a board member for American Marketing Association (Toronto) and International Live Event Association (Toronto). Ruby has delivered a variety of events across Canada and is experienced in producing all types of events including virtual and hybrid formats.

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Annual Giving, Career Development, Direct Mail, Donor Centric, Donor communications, Fundraising, Inspiration, Major/Planned Gifts, Opinion, Uncategorized.

Part One of Three

This is the first post in a Three-Part Series on Mid-Level Giving for Nonprofits on #WiserWithWisely. This series will serve as your go-to guide to start and grow a mid-level giving program for your nonprofit.

What is mid-level giving?

If you work in fundraising you’ve probably heard the term mid-level giving over the past couple of years and its growing prominence in nonprofits when planning for next year. The growing focus on mid-level giving is due to its ability to maximize donor revenue and give your mid-tier donors a special experience. If you want to start a mid-level giving program at your nonprofit, then you’re in the right place! Mid-level giving is a donor journey and strategy for your nonprofit’s mid-tier donors. Those donors who are giving less than a major gift, but they’re giving more than your typical annual donor. A mid-level giving program includes mass marketing tactics like direct mail and personal touches through relationship management.

Building a mid-level giving program gives you a way to draw these mid-tier donors closer to your organization and get to know them. By drawing this important donor group in more closely, you can identify who has the capacity to make a major gift.

 

Why do you need a mid-level giving program?

Your nonprofit needs a mid-level giving program as part of your overall fundraising strategy because

  • Mid-level giving is a bridge between your annual donors and your major gift donors.
  • Mid-level giving allows you to maximize your revenue efficiently.
  • Mid-level giving engages this important donor audience to encourage retention and upgrade

 

What is the threshold for a mid-level gift?

The threshold for a mid-level gift is different depending on organization size, annual revenue, and donor base. In the same way, the threshold for a major gift is different. In fact, your mid-level giving threshold should be relative to the typical size of gifts given in your major gift program.

For larger organizations, a major gift may start at $25,000, so a mid-level gift could be anything above $1,000 and under $24,999. For many smaller organizations, a major gift could start at $5,000 so the mid-level gift could start closer to gifts from $500 up to $4,999.

 

What does a mid-level giving program look like?

A mid-level giving program is a bit like providing a hotel concierge for your donors. When you stay in a hotel, the concierge can help you pick a nearby restaurant based on your food preferences. But the concierge isn’t going to help you choose a specific meal from the menu!

In quite the same way, a mid-level relationship manager is like a hotel concierge, only there to answer donor questions and give your nonprofit a friendly face. So unlike major gifts, where you put together a very specific proposal for donors, in mid-level giving, you offer some personal touches to your donors but interact mostly through direct mail.

 

Why should you build a mid-level giving program?

Did you know that up to three-quarters of a nonprofit’s major donors started out giving a smaller gift through a channel like an in-person event or direct mail? This means you could have donors in your annual giving program with the potential to make transformational gifts to your nonprofit. Not only does your mid-level giving program help build a pipeline of major gift donors, it also provides on-going stewardship for past major donors who aren’t ready to give at that level again.

 

When you look for major gift prospects through wealth screening, you are only uncovering the top 10% of donors, which is usually what you want! But you are missing your mid-level donors, these donors may not be able to afford to make major gifts every few years, but they do have the capacity to make their lifetime gift to your organization. A mid-level giving program helps you re-engage major donors when it’s too soon to ask them to give another major gift, but you still need a way to keep them engaged.

 

The mass-market communications will keep these donors informed about your organization and the personal touches will maintain a high feeling of engagement with your organization. They will really appreciate the insider feel of the mid-level giving program and the regular stewardship updates.

 

Coming up in the second part of this series, how to start a mid-level giving program at your nonprofit AND how to define your mid-level audience.

 

Interested in finding out more about Wisely? 

 

Connect now through the Blackbaud Marketplace

 

Or find out more on #WiserWithWisely

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Author: Wes Moon, Co-Founder, Wisely

Wes launched his fundraising career accidentally when he joined the University of Toronto’s Advancement team. While at UofT he helped build the process, operations, and tools that fundraisers needed to be successful with data-backed decision making. Driven to innovate, expanded his reach and worked with some of the leading Canadian charities, managing their donors and data before joining the Sunnybrook Foundation.  There he built their recurring giving program, launched new events, and digitized their fundraising campaigns. 

 

Wes then made the jump into tech and hasn’t looked back.  He led the Canadian team at Blackbaud and then founded Wisely, an AI-based technology company, designed to help charities raise more, faster.  Today Wes and the Wisely team work with all sizes of nonprofits and are certified technology partners of Blackbaud and Silent Partner Software.

Posted by & filed under Announcement, Campaign, Digital, Diversity, Donor Centric, Donor communications, Fundraising, Fundraising Day, Marketing/Communications, Metrics, Networking, Next Generation Philanthropy, Registration, Special Events.


In a podcast teaser — just for you — Jesse sits down to give us an insight on what we can expect at Fundraising Day on June 1.

Jesse also shares some very important thoughts on the current digital landscape, its rapid growth, where it is leading, and what this all might mean for our sector.  

To tantalize your curiosity ahead of #FD2021, listen to the podcast below.

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Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Announcement, Bursaries, Campaign, Career Development, Congress, Digital, Diversity, Inspiration, Marketing/Communications, Networking, Registration, Speakers.

CONNECTED, WE THRIVE

Let’s focus on connection – specifically the human connections that underpin our work and everyday lives.

We’re looking for enthusiastic and compelling speakers from diverse backgrounds and identities to present reimagined perspectives to the topic at Congress 2021.

We especially welcome content that challenges all of us to break down oppressive systems and practices within our sector.

Once again, we will be gathering together virtually for Congress from November 22 – 24 to reflect, share with, and learn from one another.

In 2021, Congress will focus on the theme of human connections that have a major impact on our work and everyday lives, and that will be at the core of building back better together. Connections as a core component of our work. Connections to make our sector and operations more inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible. Connections with ourselves, our employees and our employers. Connections with community stakeholders and external partners that expand impact.

Think you’ve got what our colleagues need to hear? Excited to share your knowledge, passion, ideas and expertise with your fellow fundraisers? Submit your proposal by Sunday, May 9, 2021, and let’s start connecting.

Submit your proposal here.

Klim Khomenko, CFRE (he/him)
Chair, Congress 2021
#AFPCongress2021

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Announcement, Board of Directors, Congress, Diversity, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Mentorship, Networking, Social Media, Special Events, Volunteers.

Term: Minimum one year

Start Date: April 1, 2021

Location: Toronto

Responsible to: Executive Director and HR Committee Chair

The AFP Greater Toronto Chapter is a recognized leader in promoting philanthropy and providing education, training and best practices for those in the fundraising profession. With more than 1200 members, the Greater Toronto Chapter is the largest of the more than 240 AFP chapters throughout the world.

We are seeking a human resources professional to join our HR Committee in supporting the largest AFP chapter in the world. This is a great volunteer opportunity for a driven individual to work collaboratively, provide strategic advice and guidance, and share best practices to the Chapter Executive Director, Board and members.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Collaborate with the Executive Director and HR Committee to advise and counsel on all HR related matters that impact the AFP GTC team and members.
  • Provide strategic direction on employee recruitment, retention and separation to the Executive Director.
  • On-going coaching through the annual Performance Management Review (PMR) process and objective setting.
  • Reviewing existing HR policies and suggest changes where necessary.
  • Opportunity to develop and facilitate educational sessions for members.
  • Available for monthly committee meetings (max. one hour) and ad-hoc projects.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Post-secondary education in Human Resources or an equivalent combination of education and experience is required.
  • Minimum of three (3) years of related Human Resources experience.
  • Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) designation is an asset.
  • Knowledgeable on employee recruitment, selection and separation, employee and/or labour relations, policy and procedure development, performance management, and compensation and reporting.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of human resources and health and safety principles and applicable legal and regulatory guidelines is required, including but not limited to the Employment Standards Act (ESA), Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Human Rights Code (HRC), Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), and other applicable regulations.
  • Experience in or working with non-profit organizations.
  • Maintain a high level of confidentiality and exercise discretion.

Interested candidates please forward your cover letter and resume to Penny Connors at pconnors@afptoronto.org

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Announcement, Board of Directors, Campaign, Congress, Diversity, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Mentorship, Networking, Social Media, Special Events.

March 12, 2021

Toronto

 

NEW JOB POSTING POLICY EFFECTIVE JUNE 1, 2021

 

After extensive discussions and thorough research, the AFP-GTC Board has decided to implement a policy requiring all job postings to include salary ranges. The new policy roll-out will be supported by necessary educational resources.

As of June 1, 2021, all organizations posting jobs on our site must include a salary range for the advertised role. The AFP-GTC believes in promoting and supporting fairness and transparency as part of the Chapter’s IDEA mandate, and is committed to doing its part in eradicating procedures and processes that advance systemic discrimination during the hiring process.

We acknowledge that this new Job Posting Policy is only a small part that lends to more transparency in the hiring process, but it is a necessary one. Job candidates need to know and trust that they will not be discriminated against even before getting to the interview stage.

The AFP-GTC is planning a 3-part education series to support our members over the next several weeks, as we transition to more wage transparency and our policy on listing salary ranges. This series will address the “WHY?” and the “HOW?”.

  • WHY: Why it is important to take these steps as a sector; why it impacts diversity and inclusion as a whole, and why it is important to the larger goal of equity, anti-racism, and decreasing the wage gap.
  • HOW: The HOWs of implementing this policy in small to large and in new or old organizations. We also hope to provide mentors willing to share their time and expertise with organizations that are looking to make this change but need some support to do so.

Collectively, these sessions will provide thoughtful guidance to our member organizations on how to remove systemic barriers in the sector through their hiring processes.

The AFP-GTC also wishes to thank our member organizations currently providing salary ranges on our job board and encourage them to continue their efforts toward ending discriminatory recruitment practices.

Should you have any question regarding this new Job Posting Policy, please contact us at: info@afptoronto.org.

[END]

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Congress, Inspiration, Opinion, Special Events.

Originally published on WordPress by Debra Thompson.

Posted December 3, 2020 by AFP Toronto

Last we left this story, in January 2019, I wrote about the role of pivoting and why it was so important to my career change. I shared my very first blog post and applied current state to my experience with kickboxing, where being able to pivot and not get punched was even more important. Proof of this post can be found here: https://taximom03.wordpress.com/2019/01/30/pivot-pivot-pivot/

Now, along with uncertain, unprecedented, social distancing, lockdown, speaking moistly, and trying times, the word pivot has become one of the words we will forever associate with the COVID-19 pandemic. None of us could have predicted what 2020 would be like and what we’re still living with now. I had no idea that a word I used to describe my story in 2019 would become an overused buzzword in 2020. I’d like to reconsider using the urban dictionary version, also popularized by a meme from the TV show Friends, in reference to moving, defined as “the precise way to bring a couch up a flight of stairs.”

As I embark on the next phase of my career journey into the fundraising world, it all feels the same, but different – and we do indeed need to pivot. Amy Davies, in her book, A Spark in the Dark, reminds us that we are all in a reorg world. She wonders, “how do you build a rewarding and meaningful career in an ever-changing landscape?” I doubt when she wrote this book, she was thinking the ever-changing landscape would be a pandemic! Yet her lessons apply, and I know many are updating their plan and career path as they deal with the changes this pandemic has brought. Everyone is dealing with something and doing their best as we rise to defeat this pandemic, despite the real fact this will have an effect on how we work and live for many years to come.

Personally, admittedly, like everyone at the moment, my mental health has taken a toll, and it is strange times indeed.

I signed up to attend my third AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Greater Toronto Chapter Congress, held on November 23-25, 2020. In deciding to attend a virtual fundraising industry conference, I challenged myself to step out of my pandemic funk and take a more deliberate approach. Cringe if you will, but I pivoted, for just a moment. Appropriately called NOT Congress – the conference was billed as something new, different, and evolving! I signed up right away during the “early bird” registration and despite being overwhelmed with all things virtual, I was excited to attend again and I was confident AFP could pull it off.

As many of my friends, family, and colleagues have been doing, I have attended my share of virtual events this year. I’ve lost count of the number of virtual events I signed up for and attended, or those I didn’t attend, with well-intentioned plans of “watching the recording” later, which I rarely did. At one point, I stopped signing up and attending events because I was clearly “zoom-fatigued” – a self-diagnosis, but one that seems to be common during these times of pandemic life.

I was also involved in producing three virtual events this year! All three were delivered to large audiences, with multiple speakers, engaged stakeholders, and high expectations from attendees. My “clipboard Deb” event mindset kicked-in and I was truly building the plane while flying it. I learned what it took to run a successful virtual event reliant not just on people and processes, but on technology and the internet! Having been behind the scenes for these events and knowing the next level team effort required to pull them off, I decided that I would be respectful of my fellow AFP colleagues. I would show up and be engaged and attentive. They were working hard to curate an event with top quality content showcasing the work of industry colleagues, and I owed it to them and myself to show up.

In 2018, I attended my very first Congress as a new fundraiser. Pre-conference prep for an in-person event involved determining accommodations, transportation, what to wear as well as planning the sessions I would attend. This time, I had two years of fundraising experience behind me, with lots to learn and a new lens and perspective. I had no commute and no wardrobe decisions to make. The #NotCongress team made my pre-planning easy and shipped a fantastic virtual swag bag to my home which included useful swag and an event notebook – a handy tool to help me plan my day and choose my sessions. I blocked my calendar and told family in my household that I was “attending an event” and that I’d be in my home office for most of the three days. I connected with other colleagues and friends in the sector to find out who would be there.

AFP rose to the task of creating an inspiring digital event in the era of “this is how we’ve always done it!” and it was a resounding success! This year, we’ve been asked to confront our privilege, and acknowledge our differences and collective experiences. AFP succeeded in helping 1,400 fundraisers from across Canada and around the world find our truth – and they did so in a way that was just right.

This event was incredible! It was well-organized and filled with thought provoking sessions, main plenary “breaks”, and a few fun events including a cooking class, bingo, and trivia. There were speed networking opportunities in breakout rooms where we were mentored and advised by members of the AFP-GTC Board of Directors. There were chances to network and laugh and chat. The speakers were authentic and genuine, and I was once again inspired by their sessions. I had virtual breakfasts and coffee with a few fundraising friends, and often “sat” with them as we participated in the same session by engaging on social media. I networked with new people via the attendee section of the platform. Many of the presenters used the chat feature to engage participants, and I often found I was in the same session as friends. All virtual, of course. During every session I was in awe of the dedication, wisdom, and passion of these fellow fundraisers.

The event started with a fantastic open plenary with Yassmin Abdel-Magied. We were challenged to consider our own unconscious bias, the power of change, and to create human connection. During a session about death, grief, and legacy giving, I had a good cry when I was gently reminded why I joined this sector in the first place. I was in awe as the panelists in “Closing the Leadership Gap: A Conversation on Women in Fundraising” shared their truth in an authentic and transparent discussion. I considered my own truth and challenged my inherent biases in the world of inclusivity. On the last day, I attended back-to-back sessions delivered by two of my favourite fundraisers, and heard final words in the form of poetry from Sarah Kay in the closing plenary. There were prizes for engagement and, though I didn’t win a prize, I was proud to place in the Top Five.

I left the event energized and hopeful for the future of our profession because of the support and help I received from our community of fundraisers. I’m thankful for the dedication of the AFP team, the speakers, and most of all to the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter for their bravery in deciding to go forward with this event. I’m grateful for the wonderful friends and mentors I have met in the sector, and for the ones I met this week.

If you’ve attended a virtual conference recently, you’ll know that feeling you get when you realize it’s over – instead of hugging your friends, you’re alone in your home office as you click “leave meeting.” I don’t like that feeling but it will have to do for now because I’m excited about the growth and learning I experienced. I didn’t get to hug my friends, raise a glass, or break bread this year, and hope that we all get to see each in person next year. Either way, I will continue to use the word ‘pivot’ in my vernacular, and I remain energized about the possibilities ahead.