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Ottawa’s philanthropic community comes together for Fundraising Day 2018

May 3 conference will feature prominent industry speakers and ample networking time

Fundraising Day event header
Fundraising Day event header

Fundraising professionals, as their title states, are exactly that: Professionals.

And, like most professionals, those working in the charitable sector must continue to develop their skills to meet the challenges of a changing industry.

As a way to bring the philanthropic community together to share best practices, discuss trends and connect with one another, the Association of Fundraising Professionals is hosting its 22nd annual Fundraising Day Conference on May 3.

“Our goal is to bring fundraisers from our region together to network and to give them new ideas that they can incorporate to help their cause,” says Andrea Olsen-Black, a board member with AFP and the Chair of the Fundraising Day organizing committee.

The day-long conference will bring together more than 300 fundraising professionals at the Shaw Centre and will feature a series of speakers from the fundraising industry. Each will speak to this year’s theme: Get on Track.

Making connections 

Talks from the day are intended to reinvigorate an attendee’s passion for fundraising and provide actionable ideas they can use in their work. OlsenBlack says the day is aimed at all professionals within the charitable sector, no matter what stage they’re at in their career.

“It’s really a two-way street at Fundraising Day,” she says. “Yes, there are seasoned fundraisers, but there are also many new folks coming into the industry. We all learn from each other.”

As an industry built on relationships, fundraising professionals benefit heavily from networking and mentorship, whether as mentors or mentees. In an age where social media and digital marketing are prevalent in philanthropic campaigns, fundraisers must be open to learning new skills.

Attendees will be seated at tables with designated captains, who are responsible for leading each group through an engaging discussion over lunch. Table captains may be former recipients of AFP’s annual Outstanding Fundraising Professional award, a Board Member or a CEO of a relevant organization.

The appointment of captains ensures attendees get the best value from the day, both through networking with their table-mates and opening a dialogue on the day’s content.

“It helps when you have a mentor at the table to steer the conversation around to everyone,” says Olsen-Black.

In keeping with the “Get on Track” theme, attendees will also be given a mock “boarding pass” and have access to a marketplace of exhibitors who support the event year after year. At each booth, they can get their pass stamped and those who fill their boarding pass will be entered in a draw for a number of prizes, including registration to next year’s event.

Drawing inspiration

As a people-driven industry, fundraising typically requires more than sheer assertiveness.

“Fundraising is storytelling,” says Olsen-Black. “It’s all about embracing a cause, bringing that emotive aspect into the story you are telling.”

While this is her first time as the Chair of Fundraising Day, it’s Olsen-Black’s eighth year serving on the planning committee. Each year she returns to the event, she finds herself leaving with a fresh set of ideas and a renewed passion for her work.

“It’s an inspiring day,” says Olsen-Black.

Fundraising Day will open with a panel discussion between three industry leaders: Alice Ferris of GoalBusters LLC; Paul Nazareth of Canada Helps; and Jennifer Van Noort of the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

Each will speak to a time in their careers where a specific event motivated them and challenged them to become better fundraisers. The discussion will be moderated by Leah Eustace, president of Blue Canoe Philanthropy.

The rest of the day will be filled with a selection of speakers. Each is categorized along three tracks: Foundation, Development and Progression. The Foundation track will focus on planning, the Development track will offer ideas on how to retain donors and the Progression track will teach effective messaging tactics for fundraisers.

Attendees can attend all three talks within a given track or mix-and-match.

“The charitable industry is all about giving back and helping a cause. It has been huge influence in my life,” says Olsen-Black.

Mark your calendar

Fundraising Day, presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Join hundreds of other fundraisers for a day of learning and networking.

WHEN: Thursday, May 3, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: The Shaw Centre 55 Colonel By Dr.

For more info and to register, head to