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AFP Ottawa Fundraising Day: Where Fundraisers Reconnect and Recharge

June 10, 2014

by Jenny Mitchell

Jenny MitchellWhat do you get when you cross a fundraising conference with a government town? An opening speech by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor of Canada, that’s what!

Our Governor General is very much at home in a room full of fundraisers. His opening speech at AFP Ottawa’s 18th Annual Fundraising Day invited the crowd to "join me in imagining our country as it could be: a smart and caring nation where all Canadians can succeed, contribute and develop their talents to their fullest potential.”

AFP Ottawa’s May 12th Annual Fundraising Day conference certainly picked up on this theme, as the day was all about networking and skill-building. Anna Silverman, from Shepherds of Good Hope, reminded us of the importance of stewardship and taking the time to craft handwritten thank you notes.   Rachel Wilson, small shop development officer with the Canadian Curling Association, added a new phrase to our fundraising lexicon: WCIDT – What can I do today? “50 Shades of Fundraising,” with the gregarious Sam Laprade, highlighted her top 50 reminders for us all.  (Hint: reading Penelope Burke’s Donor-Centred Fundraising is on her list!)

The executive sessions—a track introduced in recent years to meet the needs of senior executives in the Ottawa area—included a trio of “hospital superstars.” Susan Doyle, former CEO of Ottawa Hospital Foundation, and Joanne Sevigny, Susan’s associate from SD Coaching, addressed “creating a culture for a high performance team.” Participants also had a chance to engage Alex Munter, a former politician and community developer who is now president and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

The lunchtime speaker had us howling with laughter. Do you remember the song “United Breaks Guitars?” Dave Carroll, the east coast musician who wrote and produced the YouTube video sensation, chronicled his shockingly terrible experience with United Airlines customer service. Dave used humour to remind us that nonprofits must care about customer service and their brand—social media connects us all.

Leah Eustace, chief edea goddess at Good Works, was this year’s recipient of the AFP Ottawa Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award. In Leah’s life, philanthropy is a family business: her mother, Barbara McInnes, is the former CEO of the Community Foundation of Ottawa. Leah is also past president of the Ottawa Chapter.  Congratulations Leah!

New to the conference this year was a post-workshop cocktail reception. Fundraisers gathered over a glass of wine to share tips from the day, to network and to unwind.  It was a great day!

Thank you to the organizing committee for all their hard work. To find out more about AFP Ottawa visit their website:

Jenny Mitchell is president at Chavender, Creative Fundraising that Fits!  She helps small to mid-sized nonprofits get their projects off the ground. Jenny lives in Ottawa with her family and her tennis addiction. You can reach Jenny at

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