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 Case Study, Fundraising, Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Opinion.

 

We are proud to collaborate with The Fundraising Talent podcast & Responsive Fundraising to bring you stories of fundraising in the time of COVID-19.

In this special 7-episode series, members share their unique experiences with The Fundraising Talent podcast and host, Jason Lewis, about working hard to pivot operations and to secure important funding for front-line workers, community programs, the arts, environment and more. Through these conversations, we hope to continue to strengthen our global fundraising community and to provide valuable insights for continued dialogue and future learning.

Many thanks to our members who spoke candidly on what it means to be a fundraiser during this critical time.

 

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Fundraising, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

What fundraisers are thinking and how they are planning for the year ahead

By Gail Picco orginally published on the AFP Canada blog.

As 2020 approaches, many fundraisers are assessing what has—and hasn’t—worked for them in the past, even as they cope with the external dynamics buffeting the sector today and consider the emerging critique of the structure of philanthropy itself. From sector-wide issues to program planning for their own organizations, fundraisers across the country are heading into 2020 with their eyes wide open to the challenges and plans to meet those challenges or, at least, understand them better.

“What does it mean to disrupt our sector,” asks Rickesh Lakhani, CFRE, executive director of a community-based organization working with children and youth in Toronto.  “Whatever is happening now—whether it’s inclusion, harassment or lack of innovation—needs a critical eye. I’ve been looking at Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas and thinking about how people can be incentivized to break down the structure of the power imbalance.”

Juniper Locilento, MPNL, CFRE, chief development director of a national organization of community food centres, agrees. “After spending time in 2019 with the work of Rob Reich and Anand Giridharadas, I’m more oriented than ever before towards social change philanthropy and I’m thinking critically about the balance of power in philanthropy and demonstrating that my organization will strengthen democracy rather than plutocracy,” she says. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Opinion, Special Events.

By Maryann Kerr originally published on Hilborn: Charity eNews 

 

No matter how you look at it, when you attend an outstanding conference like #AFPCongress2019, you wish you could clone yourself. You can only do so much. I was focused on sessions that were strategic and covered topics like leadership, coaching, culture and personal growth.

The agenda was jam packed with many incredible speakers and subjects and I will not do it justice here. Raise the Work, speaks to “the combination of passion, grit, and intelligence we need to raise the quality of our practice to meet the challenges of fundraising in the 21st century.” Congress offered almost 100 sessions across a wide array of topics that focused on both how to do better and how to be better.

The three plenary speakers, Janet Bannister, Kishana Palmer and Alvin Law carried a thread throughout the three days with stories that spoke to resilience, personal mission, determination, belief in self, and perhaps a touch of audacity. The sessions I attended had a common theme that spoke to our personal responsibility to own our part in establishing work/life balance, culture change, leadership development, and recognizing unconscious bias. However, to shift systems and affect change requires us to look not only at individual action but also organizational and sector change. It was the only small disappointment from an otherwise stellar conference.

The first session I attended was a panel that included Josh Bowman, Kimberley Blease, Amanda Rocheleau and Cathy Mann facilitated by Jaya Mootoo called: True Grit: Keeping the Wheels on in your Professional Life when your Personal Life is Falling Apart. Suffice it to say, we laughed, and we cried and I’d say there was even a little healing done. Josh, Kimberley, Cathy and Jaya shared their personal stories of adversity and struggle and with the help of social worker Amanda Rocheleau provided some coping mechanisms and strategies including leaning into the discomfort and allowing yourself time and space to heal.

Then on to a session called Culture Club 2.0 The Connection between Culture and our Ability to Thrive! Another panel, this one facilitated by Stephen George, included panelists Mide Akerewusi, Caroline Riseboro, Maeve Strathy and Kishshana Palmer and was a follow up to a panel held at IFC. Each panelist spoke to the importance of culture in facilitating great fundraising results. (More on this in a future article.) A few tidbits: Attention to culture is the number one issue to unlocking fundraising results. Culture is how we show up in the world. Cultures express our identity and creates a sense of belonging. That was in the first five minutes. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Congress, Fundraising, Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Opinion, Special Events, Volunteers.

This year’s AFP Congress is a rallying cry for fundraisers to take a step back, recharge, discover new ways of thinking, support each other, and collaborate in elevating the profession.

In this blog entry, the volunteers behind Congress share their perspective on what it means to ‘Raise The Work’ in 2019. Please share your own thoughts in the comments below!

 

Take Pride

“I think we need to get better at celebrating ourselves. Not everyone gets to fund social good with their day job. That meaningful impact is a benefit of our career choice and we shouldn’t be shy or equivocate about that fact. We should own it.”

 

– Scott Jeffries, Director of Media & Data Services, Stephen Thomas Ltd

AFP Congress 2019 Marketing Committee Chair

 

 Tell the World

“Some may view our sector as small or lacking innovation. But we know better. Fundraisers see the results of innovation everyday in the life-changing impact we have on the communities we serve. Fundraisers change the world in a big way – let’s make sure the world knows it.”

 

– Molly DeHaan, Manager of Annual Giving, Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation

AFP Congress 2019 Marketing Committee

 

Going Beyond

“To me raising the work means understanding the challenges faced by your colleagues. Because when you get out of your ‘silo’ in this way, you can discover new ways of working together so that you’re not just serving your own goals but perhaps helping other departments more readily achieve their goals too.”

 

– Jennifer Meriano, Mid-Level Giving, Canadian Red Cross

AFP Congress 2019 Marketing Committee

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Ethics, Government Relations, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

By John Paul de Silva – originally published on Hopeful Inc.

Whatever your personal beliefs are regarding cannabis usage and cannabis legalisation in Canada, one thing is clear. Cannabis is big business and so much so that a panel was built around the subject matter at the 2019 Smith School of BusinessScale-Up Summit which was recently held in downtown Toronto. After attending the panel, I noticed that there are many similarities between the cannabis industry and the non-profit sector.

First, they’re both highly regulated by the government. Second, they’re both worth billions. Michael Garbuz of Materia Ventures, a panelist at the Summit, said cannabis is worth over $100 billion in market capitalization worldwide. That’s a lot of green (pun intended). Similarly, over $10 billion is donated annually by Canadians alone.

 

With this in mind, here are some key takeaways on what non-profit organizations can learn from the cannabis sector:

1. Data is important: Summit panelist Afshin Mousavian of Responsible Cannabis Use has collected over 35,000 data points about Canadian public perception of cannabis. Why? There’s power in knowledge, especially with that much data. With that information, everyone from public policy makers to cannabis producers can better serve the market. Similarly, your non-profit should consider better collecting, managing, and analyzing its data. In turn, you can make more effective decisions on who to target for fundraising and which social media channels are the best use of your time, for example.

 

2. Education is important: Mr. Garbuz said that education is required to dispel the myths and stereotypes around cannabis usage. Similarly, I’ve encountered non-profits who have had challenges in gaining community support because of the misconception of what they are doing for the community. For example, a youth organization that had after-school programs was seen as a “hang out spot for troublemakers.” This negatively affected donations to the organization. Educating the community on your mission through transparent messaging and open houses, for example, creates conversations and increases education to bolster support for your non-profit.

 

3. Branding is important: Michael said that most people can’t tell the difference in quality between  cannabis products, therefore the importance of brand building to help differentiate increases. The same can be true for some non-profits who are experiencing the effects of donor fatigue. For example, you might be a non-profit that is helping kids with cancer but have the challenge of getting through to those who are already donating to SickKids Foundation. They’re a great charity, but are you clearly communicating how you’re different? Ensure this is coming across through the development of your brand.

 

Are there any other key takeaways you’ve noticed from the cannabis sector which can help non-profits? Comment below and please share this post with your colleagues and friends. Thank you!

 

2019 Smith Scale-Up cannabis panel (right to left): Alison Gordon, Michael Garbuz, Afshin Mousavian; with moderator Brett Larson on far left

——-

Coming to #AFPCongress2019? Don’t forget to check out our sessions on cannabis and the non-profit sector:

  • Y-06: The Cannabis Conundrum – How Charities are Addressing the Cannabis Donor – Presented by Anne (Coyle) Melanson & Diana McLachlan
  • G-10: Lessons in Pot – What Have we Learned about Combining Charities and the Cannabis Industry a Year after Legalization? – Presented by Sam Laprade, CFRE

Learn more & register.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

John Paul de Silva

Written by John Paul de Silva

Hopeful Inc.’s Director of Marketing

Posted by & filed under Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Opinion.

By Harry Southworth

 

A career development plan is something that you decide to do for yourself to gain clarity on what you are doing, why you are doing it and where you want to end up. In essence, it is a written summary of all your professional ambitions and objectives and how you plan to achieve them. Taking the time to write a career development plan can assist in clarifying what your career goals are and in turn, sharpen your focus on achieving them.

 

Why write a career development plan?

When it comes to career development, you can often feel like the whole process is out of your control and that it all depends on opportunities that others offer you. That’s where you are wrong because you have a lot more control over your career path than you may think. Writing a plan is important for defining goals, implementing a goal-achieving strategy and executing that strategy successfully. By writing a career development plan, you are acknowledging all the things that you can do to achieve your goals and how you’ll set out on accomplishing them.

Taking the time to write a career development plan can also help to:

 

Prevent career ruts

When the paperwork starts to pile up and you forget why you chose your career path, having a career development plan reminds you of the bigger picture and why you’re doing what you’re doing.

 

Addresses weaknesses

You cannot expect yourself to be the best at everything, it’s in our DNA to have weaknesses but that doesn’t mean they cannot be addressed and corrected. Your career development plan will help to identify these weaknesses and set up a strategy to work on improving them in order to achieve your professional goals.

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Posted by & filed under Fundraising Day, Networking, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion, Special Events.

By Emily Barrie

“Leave something behind, be curious, and surround yourself with good people”.

These are simply a few of the takeaways I left Fundraising Day 2019 with; and as a first-time attendee I can confidently say that as I boarded the Lakeshore West train I was heading back home with a number of new tools in my fundraising toolkit.

 

I am early on in my career as a professional fundraiser, and have been a member of the AFP for less than a year. Always eager to learn and improve my skill-set I decided that it was time for me dig deeper and dive into my fundraising education. So naturally I found myself on AFP Toronto’s Fundraising Day 2019 website, hovering over the “complete registration” button. At first I was a bit hesitant as not only would I not know anyone, this would be the first time I’ve attended an event like this. Of course, I could hear the little fundraiser voice in the back of my head saying “you won’t know unless you ask”, or in this case, attend. So after debating over which sessions I wanted to participate in I found myself looking at that same registration button, and clicked.

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