Looking In-Looking Out-Looking Even Better

Thanks to the gentle nudge from a LinkedIn mentor – Jeffrey, who told me about the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)… I am where I am today. My research into what this organization is all about (philanthropy , inclusivity, diversity, …), led me to a telephone call and my first contact with the organization. Coming from a philanthropic background I was excited about what I was hearing and after understanding the responsibilities that came with membership and the lifetime commitment to being a good steward of what others have freely entrusted to us, I joined the organization.

In one of my many conversations with Cynthia, the Toronto Chapter Administrator, the question was asked “…so Winsome, based on your enthusiasm, and care for the those in need, AFP has secured some funding and will be offering a Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship program… if you are interested, please submit your application. Thus began my journey on the trip of a lifetime.

The first opportunity I was given as part of the Fellowship was attending the Fundamentals of Fundraising course. Getting to Oakham House was approximately a 1 hour and 20 minutes drive every Tuesday. Those of us who work in the City of Toronto (downtown) know that a 20 minutes drive could take upwards of one hour during peak periods, and I worked 30 minutes outside of downtown Toronto. I was, however, determined and excited to get the most out of the classes, recognizing that subject matter experts would be present and that knowledge would not only be in a manual, but flowing off the tongues of the gurus in the field. I was spell bound listening and gaining further understanding on how to:

  • Develop the organization’s case for support
  • Conduct prospect research
  • Initiate and maintain long-term relationships
  • Acknowledge and recognize donors and the impact of this recognition
  • Manage the gift: tracking the accuracy, maintaining the donor’s information and putting policies and procedures in place; among other things.

Getting a professional Certificate was well worth the trip, but only the start of the journey as Program Manager Sahar (#Sahar) wanted to ensure that her Fellows were well rounded formally and informally. All work and no play makes Jane/Jack a dull girl/boy.

Meeting my fellow “Fellows” for the first time the day before Congress 2015, I was filled with anticipation and a sense of comradery. Exciting times one would call it! Sharing experiences, getting an understanding of “how to rock the boat without making trouble”(a book and concept recommended by Hamlin Grange) and leaving with the plan to make “diversity and inclusivity” a hallmark in philanthropy was the highlight of my day.

Congress 2015 was all it was billed to be and more. It lived up to its slogan to be inspired for good and to invest in the possibilities. It was so exhilarating, informative and diversifying, my educational tummy was full. I was fully equipped to put policies in place, tweet, blog and fully represent the AFP brand. So it is with pride that I checked out the following sessions at Congress:

  • Securing Foundation Grants
  • Navigate board and staff roles in Fundraising
  • Build Major Gifts into the Company’s total Development program from the beginning
  • Make the sell: Creating a storyboard for the Cause
  • Receipting mistakes to avoid
  • Write great briefs and develop creative ideas
  • Conduct a Special Event Audit
  • Knowledgeable on healthy habits of great leaders

There is a song we sing at church thanking Jesus for what he has done and in anticipation of what God will do in our lives titled “Things already better” (DJ Nicholas and Judith Gayle). As I take an introspected look: Looking in…looking out…things are looking even better. The Grand Slam is yet to come.