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.

Posted by & filed under Congress.

Written by: Sue Lockett, CFRE
Preferred pronouns (she/her)

 

Most days my brain is occupied with names of animated characters and a growing list of foods my daughter finds unappealing. Toss in the ever-changing shoe sizes and passwords to multiple early learning websites, and my brain begins to reach capacity. Enter COVID-19 with its host of protocols for work and school and extracurricular lessons – it seems impossible to retain one more piece of information.

As my daughter enters Grade 1, I’m slowly expunging a wealth of infant and toddler information to allow more adult thoughts to regain some real estate in my brain. But it’s a process, and in some cases I still feel as though I’ve had my head in the sand for five years, especially when it comes to what’s happening globally regarding our treatment of each other as humans.

The pandemic has brought to light the bad and the ugly, but also the good. There are groups out there who are learning and trying to do better. I’m proud to see the fundraising sector is one of them. AFP is dedicating resources and asking their members to guide them towards better inclusivity. This year’s NOT Congress includes an array of session leaders who speak passionately and confidently on this topic.

Sarah Kay is changing the world “one step, one poem, one pun at a time” with her popular spoken-word poetry. From a Norwegian fjord to an LGBTQ gathering in India, she has educated and empowered people through her poetic performances in over 30 countries.

Nicole McVan and Tanya Rumble teach fundraisers to better understand positions of power and privilege to become more authentic and effective in their work. Nicole describes themself as a white, transgender, non-binary professional who believes in the goodness of humanity. Tanya speaks from her lived experience as a mixed-race women in an interracial partnership, who is also a third culture kid.

If you’re a parent like me, or simply a fundraiser feeling overwhelmed, I suggest you begin to create some vacant areas in your brain that you can fill with inspiring content from speakers like Sarah, Nicole and Tanya. Their uniquely rich backgrounds and experiences will complement the valuable knowledge they have to share with you. Learn how to lead your team forward and better relate with your donors in an ever-changing world.

All speakers will deliver sessions at AFP’s NOT Congress, a virtual fundraising conference taking place November 23-25.

Posted by & filed under Announcement, Congress, Leadership/Management, Mentorship, Networking, Special Events, Volunteers.

Are you interested in volunteering with other fundraising professionals in the GTA?
Are you interested in growing your professional network and making new connections?
Do you enjoy leading and working with a passionate team?
Do you love the excitement of planning a large event?
Are you considering switching career paths or looking to build new skills? If your answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then you should consider applying  for a volunteer role with AFP Congress 2021 and 2022. There are a variety of opportunities available to apply to, including leadership positions.Volunteering for AFP Congress is a great opportunity to meet like-minded fundraising professionals in the GTA and build your fundraising, leadership, organizational and creative skills while also putting them into practice. We are looking for committed volunteers who want a new challenge, who want to contribute in a meaningful way to their sector, and who want to work collaboratively with a great team!Application details and instructions can be found by clicking on the following links listed below:

All applications will be reviewed by myself, the current Congress 2021 Chair, as well as AFP staff. The selection committee will work to ensure a diverse range of people receive this call and are encouraged to apply in accordance with our statement of diversity and inclusion, and that everyone has genuine, open and unhindered access to volunteer opportunities, free from any barriers, systemic or otherwise.

Please note that only those who meet the outlined criteria will be contacted for an interview. 

All applications are due by Sunday, November 29 at 11:59pm EST. 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter office at 416-941-9212 or info@afptoronto.org.

Sincerely,

Michelle Vinokurov, CFRE 
VP Professional Development
AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Board of Directors

 

Posted by & filed under Congress, Uncategorized.

 

Written by: Sue Lockett, CFRE
Preferred pronouns (she/her)

 

As a seasoned fundraiser who has spent most of her career in the healthcare landscape there was a time when I was more laser-focused in my professional development – sticking almost entirely to healthcare sessions. With so many conferences and webinars available, and often a tight budget (and little time!), I felt that hearing directly from my healthcare mentors would help me to stay atop of my field.

I still believe this is a terrific use of time and keeps one relevant and competitive. Passionate donors are shopping around, and they are talking with your peers at other health institutions. Sector-based development and the hopeful validation of one’s best practices adds confidence to your approach. This knowledge allows you to paint a picture for an investor using tools and language they recognize and already understand.

However, once in a while you need to shake things up a bit. To peer into a different realm and see what treasures you might be able to transport back into healthcare.

This is how I felt the first year I attended AFP Congress. There was so much to glean from both healthcare and non-healthcare peers. Innovative donor activities that were happening in social services, arts, education… that could be modified and applied to some of my healthcare donor interactions. I found the content and the presenters fresh and inspiring. There was also a focus on ‘moving forward faster’ through digital engagement and highly personalized stewardship – things that a smaller or younger non-profit can be more nimble with, but could definitely find a place in a healthcare foundation’s plans.

In it’s virtual and affordable format, this year’s NOT Congress is very accessible – even if you can only join in real time for a few sessions.

Most healthcare organizations have a loyal group of donors who have pledged a planned gift – a decision often driven by the family having an affinity with the hospital during their lifetime. But we seem to struggle with marketing this option to those who might not have a direct relationship as a grateful patient.  In “How to Build a Branded Legacy Program that Raises Big Bucks: The Amnesty International Case Study” speakers Hala Al-Madi, Bryan Tenenhouse, Lisette Gelinas, and Donna Richardson will share their experience of building a branded program that inspires an emotive response. They will walk us through what it takes to bring our Legacy brand to life with story-telling, in a way that inspires more donors to consider the wise decision of leaving our organization a gift in their Will.

Like many sectors, healthcare is traditionally reliant on special events and sometimes has the advantage of having many attendees located in a fairly close radius of the hospital. The pandemic has made in-person events a sparse option and a great number of staff and volunteers are working remotely. Make-A-Wish® Canada has staff and volunteers across the country and they are already thinking innovatively and practically how to keep them engaged while driving donor revenue. In their session, Gemma Cowan and Patricia Dolla will speak to the virtual tools and techniques they use to engage staff remotely and offer advice (and a plan!) to host staff collaboration sessions in your organization with measurable outcomes.

And for those looking to maintain their laser focus on healthcare content, Tony Myers and Sue McCoy will deliver a session called “Major Donor Transitions: The Most Important 10 Seconds in a Donor Conversation.” Sue McCoy is Director of Major Gifts at Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, where she oversees a team securing $9 million a year in donations. Sue and Tony will pull from their 50 years of combined experience, as they share what they’ve learned about how to “Get to the Point” as you reach the solicitation phase with your prospects.

Ted Garrard, CEO, SickKids Foundation along with Greg Hagin will present an intriguing session titled “The Donor is Dead. Long Live the Donor.” and enlist the shared knowledge of 3 additional panelists to explore and de-mystify the life and death of legacy giving in the age of digital transformation.

So whether you commit to broadening your learning with the allure of fresh ideas, or stay the course to seek emerging trends from health sector masters, register soon for AFP’s NOT Congress taking place Nov 23-25.

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Board of Directors, Diversity, Leadership/Management.

As we head into our 2020-2021 cycle at the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter and continue to adjust to the unprecedented challenges we face as a society and sector, we want to reiterate our commitment to Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) principles.

 

Within our Chapter, we know that we must continue to have often uncomfortable conversations at the Board and leadership level as well as with our membership and with those within our sector in order to move the dial on issues to ensure we are living up to our commitment to IDEA.

 

We want to thank our colleagues at AFP Global for hosting an important town hall as a first-step of ongoing conversations and IDEA initiatives to address the issues of anti-Black racism and oppression within the fundraising sector. We were happy to see many of our fellow Chapter and Canadian members tune in to learn more about the different ways we can come together to take action to combat systemic racism.
Following this town hall, at the Chapter level we have had ongoing discussions with our colleagues at AFP Global and AFP Canada about how we can continue these conversations to take further action and continue to develop important AFP IDEA programs and initiatives.

 

One of our first actionable steps is to have our Chapter Board and staff participate in formal, ongoing unconscious bias, anti-Black racism and anti-oppression training to ensure we address these issues at a governance level. It is the responsibility of the Board to build the trust of the membership by demonstrating our personal commitment to greater awareness of different experiences and perspectives and our role in speaking out and fighting against systemic racism.

 

Further to that, we have also committed to ensuring our educational programming going forward – starting at this year’s virtual Congress – will include sessions specifically focused on unconscious bias, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism to help raise awareness to stamp out systemic racism within our sector. We look forward to working with our Congress management committee, Chapter volunteers and the larger AFP membership to attract the best representatives of this important field of study to lead these discussions.

 

As a Chapter we want to take a leadership role in ensuring that our members are equipped to work in the sector and organizations in our sector embrace an inclusive workforce and cultivate an inclusive donor community.  To help with this, we will also continue to support AFP Global on evolving AFP IDEA best practices and initiatives and provide regular updates to our members on our collective efforts.

 

 

We will continue our efforts to create an environment and opportunities within our Chapter that support open communication and dialogue to allow our membership to speak candidly about the barriers that exist that prevent them from advancing within our profession. In doing this work we are committed to unlearning outdated systems and practices that no longer serve us and are ready and willing to listen, gather and respond to your feedback.

 

We recognize that these commitments are not the complete solution, however we believe they are important concrete steps towards achieving a Chapter that is responsive to the needs of our members and sector. We encourage you to reach out to us via Penny Connors, AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Executive Director, should you have any questions, feedback or ideas on how we can work together to combat systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and oppression within our Chapter and sector.

 

Thank you in advance for your patience and support as we continue to have these important conversations and work towards the best approaches for sector-wide change. We look forward to building a better, stronger more inclusive and diverse AFP Greater Toronto Chapter and cultivating meaningful change toward ending anti-Black and anti-Indigenous systemic racism within our sector.

 

Sincerely,

Penny Connors
Executive Director, AFP Greater Toronto Chapter

AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Board of Directors:

Amy Pawluk, CFRE                                                                                                    Jennifer Bernard, CFRE
President                                                                                                                     President-Elect

Caroline Riseboro                                                                                                        Seanna Millar
Immediate Past-President                                                                                           VP, Finance & Audit

Sandra Sualim, CFRE                                                                                                 Michelle Vinokurov, CFRE
VP, Governance & Directorship                                                                                   VP, Professional Development

Sasha Manes                                                                                                               Cindy Ball, CFRE
VP, Membership & Marketing                                                                                       VP, Public Affairs

Ken Aucoin, CFRE                                                                                                       Brady Hambleton, CM
Chair, Human Resources                                                                                             Chair, Sponsorship

Paula Attfield                                                                                                                Danielle Mandell, CHRL
Member at Large                                                                                                          Member at Large

Roselyn Sagar-Lal, CFRE                                                                                            Simone Hicken
Member at Large                                                                                                          Member at Large

Mary-Lynne Stewart                                                                                                     Sara Ly
Member at Large                                                                                                          Member at Large

Teresa Vasilopoulos, CFRE, MBA                                                                                Cheryl Denomy
Member at Large                                                                                                          Member at Large

Dane Shumak, CFRE                                                                                                   Pamela Ross, CFRE
Member at Large                                                                                                          Member at Large

Stacey Silverberg Carcao, CFRE, BCL, LLB                                                               Aki Temiseva
Member at Large                                                                                                         Member at Large

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Announcement, Diversity, Inspiration, Leadership/Management.

With the recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police and the protests that have ensued, many are asking what we can do to end racism in America and across the world. On June 15, AFP Global hosted a town hall for a conversation about the actions AFP and fundraisers can take to bring about a more inclusive and just profession and society. Hosted by Michelle Edgerton and including presenters Kishshana Palmer, Simone Joyaux, Ken Miller and Marco Corona, this town hall conversation is the first of many ongoing discussions between AFP and its members to ensure inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) principles are acted on and upheld within the sector.

Learn more about each of the panelists here & watch the town hall below:

The AFP Greater Toronto Chapter staff and Board of Directors, reiterate our commitment to supporting initiatives that combat anti-black racism and oppression within our Chapter and sector. We know there is more work to be done and we are committed to continuing to working together with each of you, our members and sector partners, to eliminate systemic anti-black racism and oppression and stamping out the inequities faced by Black Indigenous and racialized individuals within our sector as we work towards a more positive and equal future.

Learn more about our Chapter & AFP Global’s IDEA work here.

Please stay tuned for further updates on this work to come. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us at info@afptoronto.org should you have any questions or if you would like to get involved in this important work.

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Announcement, Diversity, Ethics, Leadership/Management, Next Generation Philanthropy.

 

As part of the AFP family and on behalf of the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter, I want to echo the words and sentiments of Mike Geiger “fundraisers are the voice of those who are not heard. And that point has never been more important than now.”

We all represent different organizations and causes but we must all recognize that racism exists, has existed for far too long and we must come together to fight to end these tragedies and the continued heartbreak.

The AFP Greater Toronto Chapter is committed to our AFP inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) priorities and support efforts across AFP globally with projects such as the recent Our Right to Heal, highlighting the challenges that black women face every day. Thank you to our members and others who contributed to this important project and to our collective continued efforts to eliminate racism and move forward respectfully.

As we move into our 2020-21 Board and Committee cycle, the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter will focus efforts from staff, Board and volunteers on continuing to include IDEA in our discussions, event planning and initiatives. We fully support combating anti-black racism within our sector and communities and we are committed to continue evolving the Chapter’s work to support our members from all racialized communities.

The tragic deaths of George Floyd and too many others under these circumstances must stop. We must work together as fundraisers and non-profit professionals, as informed citizens, and as role models to future generations to end these tragedies and institutional and blatant racism.

As a bi-racial woman growing up in Toronto, I felt personally the sadness and impact of racism my mother experienced coming to Canada and adjusting to life here. The violence, trauma, stress and overall negative impact and inequities experienced by black and other racialized individuals needs to end.

 

Penny Connors
Executive Director, AFP Greater Toronto Chapter

Posted by & filed under Announcement, Career Development, Mentorship, Networking, Next Generation Philanthropy, Volunteers.

Meighan Bell and Kate Black, CFRE first met as colleagues at Plan International Canada in early 2017 working together to pursue ambitious fundraising revenue targets, supporting and bringing awareness to children’s rights and gender equality worldwide – a cause that both are inherently passionate about. They’ve been members of the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter for a number of years and have volunteered with our Chapter Education committee to support various professional development programs. Now, Meighan and Kate are giving back in a new way – by offering all-new virtual mentorship opportunities to fellow members who want to get involved, network, enhance their skills and grow both personally and professionally. We asked Meighan and Kate to tell us more about their own experiences with mentorship and about their vision for the program:

 

As two self-driven and highly motivated fundraising professionals, we have had many conversations about career progression, opportunities for growth within the sector and the challenges that young fundraising professionals face within the GTA – opportunities for effective and impactful mentorship among them. After doing our research and exploring different mentorship programs and initiatives that other AFP Chapters across the country have adopted, we are thrilled to Co-Chair the re-launch of AFP Greater Toronto Chapter’s Mentorship Program (2020-2021)! Read more »

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Diversity, Ethics, Inspiration, Leadership/Management.

Originally published on AFP Global’s President’s Perspective blog.

 

As we enter another week of fundraising in the COVID-19 era, we again find that the landscape is changing.

We continue to adjust to the challenges brought about by the coronavirus and the resulting impact on the economy. Now though, other events have taken center stage: the anguish and anger over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor—a black man killed by police officers in Minneapolis and a black woman killed by police officers in Louisville, Ky.—and the resulting protests and violence that continue to unfold in cities across the United States and around the world.

I have often said that fundraisers are the voice of those who are not heard. And that point has never been more important than now.

Part of the job of the charitable sector centers on service provision, whether it’s in partnership with the government, or helping out in service areas where the government cannot provide them or has failed to do so.

But we, especially as fundraisers, also play a critical role in creating connections and bringing people together—uniting communities to work on a cause. We provide a safe haven for different perspectives and unheard voices. We work to ensure that the principles we espouse so much in our society—such as diversity, fairness, compassion and justice, to name a few—become a reality.

Even if our causes appear to be unrelated to these issues, we must understand that people will want and need to talk about them. We need to provide a platform so they can express themselves, and we need to be sure to listen, understand and help find solutions to bring about change.

This is the fabric of our world—and frankly, always has been. This is what people are experiencing and living. This is the world in which we raise funds and provide services. If we don’t meet people in that world—and have empathy and seek to create change—then we are doing them, and our causes, a disservice. And we are not living up to the principles and values that undergird our work every day.

At AFP, we understand that the profession and world in which we work are not yet equitable, and that is why we’ve made inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) such a priority. That is why we support the project, Our Right to Heal, which highlights the challenges that black women face every day. That is why we are holding an online panel discussion in the near future to talk about institutional racism, social justice, fundraising and other issues raised by recent events.

Whatever our cause—and AFP members represent thousands of different missions—we can all agree that stamping out institutional racism must be a priority for all of us.

I have termed fundraising the impact profession, and you can see our impact most clearly in the programs and services our organizations provide. But our work is so much deeper and more powerful than just that. You’ve probably all experienced this sense of impact as you’ve talked with donors during the COVID-19 crisis and hearing their need to reconnect and feel part of the broader world. Now, it is even more critical we have these conversations with our supporters and stand up for our values and what is right.

I invite you to share your thoughts with me. Please feel free to email me at Mike.Geiger@afpglobalorg.

Geiger sig