When people get involved in their communities through volunteering, philanthropy and other forms of civic engagement, good things happen.
At-risk youth have a chance to shine. The poor and hungry get fed and clothed. Great advances in health care are made.
Once a year, the worthy contributions of individuals, groups and businesses are recognized by the Ottawa chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) at its annual philanthropy awards dinner, colloquially known as The Phils (not to be confused with The BOBs, which is an entirely different awards night altogether).
This year’s dinner is set for Wednesday, Nov. 13th in the Canada Room of the National Arts Centre.
In advance of the big night, Peter Nicholson, president and founder of presenting sponsor and financial services company Foundation WCPD (Wealth, Creation, Preservation & Donation), threw a party.
He hosted the reception with his spouse, Anabel Bane, at their home in Rockcliffe Park on Monday night. It was a large crowd, with more than 100 guests, but Nicholson, who is a father of six, had plenty of room to fit everyone in. It was the third year in a row that Nicholson and Bane have hosted the gathering.
“Those who want to stay all night, you’re more than welcome,” Nicholson generously offered, as guests surely started to regret their decision not to pack a toothbrush.
On hand was Margot Ault, returning chair of The Phils. She’s also manager of philanthropy for the fundraising arm of The Ottawa Hospital, where, by the way, she’ll also be a patient in the upcoming months as she and her husband prepare to welcome their first child.
The awards dinner remains one of Ault's favourite events in Ottawa. “This is really an opportunity for our community to come together," she told a crowd that included fellow professional fundraisers, past and present award recipients, sponsors, and personal friends of Nicholson's. "It brings together the charitable sector, as well as community and business leaders, to celebrate for one night the outstanding acts of generosity, giving and volunteering that make our city such an incredible place to live in."
This year’s recipients are:
Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist - DYMON Storage
Nominated by: The Ottawa Mission
Outstanding Individual Philanthropist - Marina Kun, president of Kun Shoulder Rest
Nominated by: Ottawa Chamber Music Society
Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist - Buffet des Continents
Nominated by: CHEO Foundation
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser - Paul McCarney, president of Clean Water Works
Nominated by: The Ottawa Hospital Foundation
Outstanding Youth - Logan Hussein
Nominated by: CHEO Foundation
Outstanding Philanthropic Group - HOPE
Nominated by: Youth Services Bureau
Outstanding Fundraising Professional - Jim Orban
Nominated by: The Heart Institute
Orban told OBJ.social he was reluctant to let his team nominate him for the Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award because he didn’t want to be in the spotlight for an achievement that should be shared with others. The award recognizes the $100 million he’s helped to raise for the Heart Institute over the past seven years.
“When my staff asked me, ‘We’d like to nominate you for this award’, I said: ‘I’m just not into individual recognition; it’s not something I do’. There was this awkward pause, and then one of them said: ‘Get over yourself; this isn’t about you’,” Orban recalled with a chuckle.
It was Ottawa lawyer Paul LaBarge, chair of the board at the Heart Institute, who helped to put Orban's award in perspective. “Every team needs a spark,” LaBarge told him.
Orban plans to attend the AFP awards dinner with all 16 of his staff members. “I’m going to thank every one of them.”
Orban, who was the well-known and popular publisher of the Ottawa Citizen before becoming a professional fundraiser, was joined at the reception by the head of his foundation board, Ottawa businesswoman Barbara Farber. She described Orban's award as being “well-deserved.”
“Jim is a tremendous communicator," she told OBJ.social. "People just naturally open up to him and he’s got such a network of people. Raising $100 million for any cause is daunting but Jim has a ‘We can do this!’ attitude.”
Rideau Hall Foundation president and CEO Teresa Marques, who's the new president of the Ottawa chapter of AFP, was at the reception. So was Marjolaine Hudon on behalf of sponsor RBC. No surprise there; Hudon, who is the bank's regional president, has been highly visible in the community since arriving with her family to Ottawa, from Calgary, just over a year ago.
Nicholson owns a resort in Exuma, Bahamas called Grand Isle Resort & Spa. He frequently donates vacation packages to his resort, to help Ottawa charities raise money through their fundraising auctions. The Bahamas, which consists of 700 islands, is still recovering after parts of the country were hit by Hurricane Dorian. The best way to help, Nicholson told his guests, is to go and spend tourism dollars in the country, most of which was left unscathed.
He and his firm are helping to organize a Hurricane Dorian Fundraiser at 50 Sussex, a beautiful new venue located along the Ottawa River, on Monday, Oct. 28th. It will feature the Canadian premiere of the documentary based on Jeff Todd's award-winning book: 'Pigs of Paradise: The Story of the World Famous Swimming Pigs'. It tells the true story behind the world-famous swimming pigs of The Bahamas.