Posted by & filed under Announcement.

I want to take a moment to introduce myself to all of you. My name is Penny Connors and I am excited to be taking the lead as your new Executive Director at the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter. I am honoured to have been selected from a group of seasoned professionals after a comprehensive recruitment process led by the team at KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) and am honoured to have had the opportunity to meet some of you, our members, at Congress this past November. I look forward to working with our Chapter Board of Directors, staff team, partners and sponsors, volunteers, and you, our members, to continue to build on the success of the Chapter and contribute to advancing new initiatives in the Chapter’s Strategic Plan.

I am lucky to have had the opportunity to work with my predecessor, Cynthia Quigley, these past few weeks in order to begin to familiarize myself with the Chapter’s programs and events and understand that I have some pretty big shoes to fill! Cynthia has been a phenomenal lead for the Chapter for the past 25 years and leaves an inspiring legacy – something that I hope to build upon. I am grateful for all of her hard work and for her transferring of knowledge, so that I can continue to work with you, our members, to take our Chapter to new heights.

I come from a background of extensive experience in the non-profit and regulatory sectors, leading teams to enhance certification standards and processes, working with not-for-profit Boards and Board committees in Finance, Governance and Human Resource oversight and leadership of member service initiatives. You can read more about my experience here.

As a racialized woman with certification and experience delivering workplace discrimination and harassment prevention training through the Employment Equity Office of the Government of Ontario, I look forward to supporting, improving and advancing AFP’s inclusivity, diversity, equality and access (IDEA) initiatives and celebrating new and diverse voices and perspectives within the sector. This includes working with our Board, staff, sponsors, partners and volunteers to build effective and transparent processes to ensure programs are reflective of and responsive to the communities we serve.

Personally, I have lived and worked in the Greater Toronto Area my whole life and enjoy spending time with family and friends. I am a proud mother of three.

I hope to meet you at upcoming Chapter events and in the meantime, welcome you to reach out to me at or to connect with me on LinkedIn.

I look forward to working with you & wish you all the best for 2020!

Penny Connors, BA, BComm, CRM, CAE
Executive Director
Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Toronto Chapter

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 Announcement, Congress, Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Speakers, Special Events.


The things we think about a lot but need to talk about more.

We’re looking for speakers to navigate the critical conversations fundraising professionals in 2020 need to be having to develop and flourish in our industry.

If you’re ready to talk, we want to hear your ideas.



Submit your speaker proposals for #AFPCongress2020 by January 13!

AFP Congress provides delegates with an immersive, three-day professional development opportunity to learn from Canada’s top educators, explore innovative vendor products and services, and to network with the sector’s most respected leaders.


In 2020, Congress will focus on themes that are not exclusive to the fundraising profession, but have major impact on our work. From money asks (for your organization, for yourself), to gender dynamics, to legacy (your donor’s, your own), Money, Death, and Sex inform how we behave and what decisions get made.


At AFP Congress 2020, we’re bringing these taboo topics to the fore, to engage — respectfully, constructively, and BOLDLY — with the thoughts we’ve all grappled with during our careers.


Up for the challenge? Excited to share your knowledge, passion, ideas and expertise with your fellow fundraisers? Submit your proposal by Monday, January 13, 2019, and let’s start talking.


Laura Champion

Chair, AFP Congress 2020
Fundraising Strategist
Blakely Inc.


First time applying?

Check out our first-timer’s speaker proposal guide here.

This year at Congress, we’re trying something new: the CASE (Cultivating Amateur Speakers to Excellence) Studies session. If you’ve never spoken at Congress before, click here to learn more about this exciting new session and why you should consider participating.

Please carefully review the application instructions – applications submitted in any other way or after the deadline will not be accepted. 


We are always looking for ways to improve upon our speaker selection process and as such, will be ensuring that all submissions are reviewed by a committee of peers based on a systemic evaluation rubric. In order to encourage complete and high-quality submissions, all submissions must include detailed session descriptions, speaker bios and headshots (this requires you to sign-in to a Google account to complete the form in order to upload your materials).

For more information or questions about the conference, proposals or selection process, please contact




Posted by & filed under Special Events.

By Jennifer Meriano

I have always felt lucky to have a career that has been more of a winding road than a straight climb up the ladder. I began my work life on the for-profit side, doing everything from marketing campaign creation to customer experience mapping to creative direction. I then made a move to nonprofit life, applying my strategic and creative skills to donor engagement. Being a part of so many different industries and projects, one thing has always been a constant – attending conferences. I know whether you are attending your first conference or your first conference on a particular subject matter, conferences can be intimidating, especially if you are attending alone. So, if you are going to be a first time AFP Congress attendee this year, here are few things to help you make the most of your experience.


  1. Get Excited – There is learning afoot!

Congress is about you and your professional development. Preparation for the conference is essential to making the most of this opportunity. Come to the conference with a clear plan for at least one thing you want to learn more about. Focus on leaving the conference with one insight in this area and make a promise to yourself to apply it in your first week back to work. I also recommend attending sessions that are a little out of your wheelhouse – do not feel confined to sessions that cover what you already know.


  1. Talk to People – They will not bite!

Some of the most valuable leanings you will gain at Congress will come from networking. As a proud introvert, I understand this can be tough, but it is so important. Many people find the idea of starting a conversation with a stranger awkward, but just remember meeting people is on their agenda too. One of the best things about a conference is that it brings like-minded people together in one room to share ideas, so don’t let this chance go to waste. Stuck? An easy conversation starter is to ask what sessions they have attended so far. And don’t forget to end every conversation by asking for the person’s business card no matter who they are. If you really want to crush conference networking, follow-up the next day with a brief email letting them know you enjoyed meeting them and connect on LinkedIn.


  1. Exhibitor Booths – More than just SWAG!

Full disclosure, I have been an exhibitor at many conferences and I feel strongly that most attendees do not make the most of this opportunity. It is vital to remember that exhibitor booths are not just about immediate need. Let’s face it, if you had an immediate need you would already know who they are. Visiting exhibitor booths is about gaining a greater understanding of your industry’s landscape and learning what tools are available to you. Talk to the people at these booths and take the time to understand what they can provide. This can be invaluable when creating new innovative strategies in the future.

Attending a conference is a rare occasion to talk to people in your industry, learn from the mistakes and successes of others and better yourself. Embrace it; you are going to have a great time!


Jennifer Meriano is a Brand & Donor Strategist and member of the 2019 Congress marketing committee. She looks forward to welcoming you at Congress and connecting! 

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 Announcement, Fundraising Day, Opinion, Special Events.

For the second year in a row, we’re reaching out to the wider AFP community inviting proposals to make up a diverse and engaging 2020 Fundraising Day education program.

Fundraising Day provides a unique one-day opportunity to network with the sectors most sought-after professionals and to learn from Canada’s top educators about the unique challenges and opportunities within the realm of fundraising and development.

In 2020, Fundraising Day will focus on the digital future of fundraisingWe’re looking forward to where digital is leading and disrupting our practice and what this means for the sector. How does digital fit into your current fundraising practices? How is it changing your approach? What trends within the realm of digital are making the biggest philanthropic impact? And most importantly, where are we headed next? We’ll be exploring these questions and more at Fundraising Day on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.

Share your knowledge, passion, ideas and expertise with your fellow fundraisers – submit a proposal by Friday, December 6, 2019

We are always looking for ways to improve upon our speaker selection process and as such, will be ensuring that all submissions are reviewed by a committee of peers based on a systemic evaluation rubric. In order to encourage complete and high-quality submissions, all submissions must include detailed session descriptions, speaker bios and headshots (this requires you to sign-in to Google to complete the form in order to upload your materials).


First time applying? Review our first-time speaker proposal guide here.

Please carefully review the application instructions – applications submitted in any other way or after the deadline will not be accepted. Please note that Fundraising Day does not offer any travel stipends for out-of-town speakers.




Event Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Event Location: Metro Toronto Convention Centre – 255 Front St. W., Toronto (map)

Proposal Deadline: Friday, December 6, 2019


For more information or questions about the conference, proposals or selection process, please contact myself or

I thank you in advance for applying and look forward to exploring fundraising through a digital lens with you all in 2020!


Aaron Sanderson, MA, FAHP, ACFRE

Chair, AFP Toronto Fundraising Day 2020
Vice President, Philanthropy
Plan International Canada

Posted by & filed under Announcement.


October 31, 2019 — On behalf of the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), it gives me great pleasure to announce the appointment of Penny Connors as the new Executive Director for the Chapter.

After 25 years of incredible service to the Chapter, Cynthia Quigley will be retiring this January.  Recently, the Greater Toronto Chapter Board launched a comprehensive search, led by the team at KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.), to identify a seasoned association professional to provide leadership to the Chapter during this exciting next phase of growth.  Penny was selected from a long list of qualified candidates due to her extensive experience in the not-for-profit association and regulatory sectors, including leading subject matter expert teams to enhance certification standards and processes, working with not-for-profit Boards and Board committees in Finance, Governance and Human Resource oversight and leadership of member service initiatives. Read more »