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    Fundraising Day 2019: Through the Eyes of a First-Timer

    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.


    Once Fundraising Day arrived any hesitation had melted away, replaced by excitement and curiosity for what the day would hold. Well, let me tell you, Fundraising Day 2019 sure did deliver!



    The day kicked off with an incredibly inspirational keynote given by Zahra Al-Harazi (if you weren’t able to attend then I strongly encourage you to check out her story), and was filled with great sessions led by very passionate presenters. I had chosen to take the sessions that best corresponded with my experience and career level; learning more about volunteer engagement, major gifts, the benefits of social media, and how to better engage females in our fundraising campaigns and stewardship. Each of these sessions provided immense insight, fueling new ideas that I was eager to bring to work the next day.


    Here just a few of the takeaways the sessions provided:

    • Volunteers are organization “time donors”, a gift just as valuable if not more so than a financial one.
    • Don’t only rely on the fundraising team to brainstorm – the entire organization is a fountain of ideas & collaboration.
    • Digital KPIs are pure gold when it comes to bridging the gap between marketing & fundraising maximization.
    • Financial advisors are a relatively untapped resource that fundraising staff should utilize to best serve their donors & maximize revenue.


    While the educational sessions, keynote, and various fine details like the non-profit themed book fair all made for a great experience at Fundraising Day 2019, I couldn’t help leaving with one key impression: Fundraisers are some of the most enthusiastic, encouraging, and dedicated individuals. The entire day I was consistently reminded of what Zahra Al-Harazi had said that morning, what makes our fundraising community such a pleasure to be a part of; to “leave something behind, be curious, and surround yourself with good people”.


    And so, while this might have been my first time attending Fundraising Day, I doubt it will be my last.


    About the Author


    Growing up just outside of Toronto in Milton, Emily began fundraising through various volunteer opportunities. Emily only recently transitioned into professional fundraising three years ago where she worked as a retail fundraiser for various nonprofit and charitable organizations. Currently Emily works as a Coordinator, Community Fundraising for the Heart & Stroke Foundation where she manages the Big Bike campaign for the Wellington, Dufferin, and Cambridge regions. She is also currently pursuing her CFRE.