ABCD at Fundraising Day

by Merrin McHugh

At the end of May I attended the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ ‘Fundraising Day 2012’ on behalf of ABCD. Held at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, Fundraising Day brought together hundreds of fundraising professionals “for a day of learning, networking, and inspiration”. Although I did feel a tad out of place as a new grant writer for a small grassroots organization amongst so many senior professionals with positions at huge charities, hospitals, and arts organizations, I was still able to take away some important information and apply it to my new career and position with ABCD. I would like to share with you a little about each session I attended and my experiences throughout the day.

Session 1: “Build Your Own Alumni: Cultivate a Donor Base and Build a Sense of Belonging”
The first half was facilitated by Renascent (an organization that provides housing, programs, and services for those recovering from alcohol and drug abuse). At Renascent they have actual alumni that have been through their program and come back to work at the house, so they spoke about strategies to involve more alumni in their programs, and how to build relationships before asking for donations. The second half was run by two young women from CANFAR: Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research. Although I think most people in the room preferred the first presentation, I found the second more useful. CANFAR does not have alumni in the traditional sense, and they do a lot of their fundraising through students. They therefore spoke about how they keep students involved throughout high school, into university, and onto their years as young adults. I think this is useful for ABCD, as we also have a lot of high school students participating in fundraising activities and it is often a struggle to keep students engaged and involved as they get older. One suggestion I found interesting was the creation of a Young Professionals Club.

Session 2: “Are We Entering a New Age of Enlightenment or Entitlement?”
Session 2 was not exactly what I had expected it to be. It was facilitated by Denny Young from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and was very much based around an arts organization and their struggle to make the TSO accessible to a younger audience. What was interesting was that it again brought up the idea of a starting a young professionals club or council.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Samantha Nutt
The best part of the day for me was having the privilege of hearing Dr. Samantha Nutt speak. She is a public health professional and founder of War Child Canada. She shared some of her experiences, both in the field and also in fundraising situations and was truly a captivating speaker. I urge you to look up some of her interviews.

Session 3: “LinkedIn for Fundraisers”
This session was definitely more helpful for my personal career, focusing on creating a LinkedIn profile that would impress/attract potential employers. However, after attending this session I do think maybe ABCD should create a ‘company page’ on the website.

Session 4: “CRA’s New Guidance on Fundraising”
The last session of the day was informative but quite dry, focussing on the CRA Guidelines for registered charities and fundraising. I won’t bore you with the details but it was definitely useful for me to have a better grasp on CRA guidelines that directly impact my job.

All in all it was a worthwhile day. I learned some new things, met some interesting people, and spread the word of ABCD and the work we are doing!