Giving Guide: Barbara McInnes Fund surpasses $65k


This article originally appeared in the Giving Guide. A full copy can be found here.

By Teresa Marques

Over the past few months there have rightfully been many moving tributes in honour of legendary community builder, Barbara McInnes, who passed away on July 1, 2021.  When AFP Ottawa announced the establishment of the Barbara McInnes Executive Mentoring Project, we were stunned at the generosity that revealed itself. At the time of print, an incredible $66,000 had been raised to support the program in Ottawa, and a further $10,000 for work in Barb’s beloved Newfoundland.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised; after all, Barb – ever the consummate fundraiser – championed it.  And so very many people loved Barb.

There are few people who have made a more profound impact in bettering our community than Barb McInnes, over a lifetime of service and leadership.  She spent 27 years with the Community Foundation of Ottawa since its inception in 1987 and was a founding director of Community Foundations of Canada for 12 years.  

Always active in her community, she was a Governor of Carleton University, a member of the University Senate, board member of United Way Ottawa and of numerous professional associations and voluntary sector boards.

She served on the boards of Telus Ottawa, the Shorefast Foundation, and Match International Fund for Women.  She was a Champion of and Advisor to Compassionate Ottawa, PAL Ottawa, and Refugee 613. The recognition from AFP Ottawa was but one of many Honours and Awards Barb received over time, including the Order of Canada and Honourary Doctorate from Carleton University. The list goes on!

Without question, Barb’s presence and leadership in the community and her generosity over the years have led to immense impacts on the lives of countless individuals in need. As Alex Munter, CEO of CHEO, shared: “When I think of Barb, I can think of few people who know Ottawa as well or love and support it as much. And in return, the love and support of her city is reflected right back at her.”

In recognition of all that Barb gave to the city of Ottawa and to the charitable sector here and beyond, and to create a lasting legacy in her honour, AFP Ottawa established the Barbara McInnes Executive Mentoring Project. Funds raised will invest in the leadership development of new Executive Directors from underrepresented groups in our city and from small NGOs and charities.  Going forward, the project will:

Provide bursaries and scholarships through the AFP Ottawa Chapter to new Executive Directors from underrepresented groups in Ottawa and from small NGOs and charities;

Support executive level mentorship within the profession, particularly for leaders from underrepresented groups; and Encourage and promote diversity and inclusion in the fundraising profession in Ottawa.

There’s no question that passion fuels the work of so many professionals employed by the charitable sector; in fact it’s this passion that continues to draw so many into the field.  But, too often, charities are running on fumes as opposed to being resourced effectively to develop talent, to work towards more sophisticated operational structures, or to embrace digital transformation (to name just a few ‘behind the scenes’ hurdles that some charities face).

AFP Ottawa established this program in Barb McInnes’ name and with her blessing because I think Barb knew very well that opportunities to invest in professional development and leadership potential are not always spread equally.

These types of learning opportunities can be particularly harder for leaders from smaller organizations to access, and we need to do much more to ensure that leaders from underrepresented groups in our city can access advanced professional development and mentorship. We all stand to benefit from diversity in leadership and Barb championed this.

With the Barbara McInnes Executive Mentoring Project, and thanks to the generosity of so many contributors in Ottawa and beyond, her legacy will continue to champion for the social good sector. For more information the program which will launch formally this fall, please contact