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Congress is Almost Here!

November 18, 2015

By Amy Pawluk

Canada’s largest fundraising Congress is less than a week away! 

It has been a long journey and an exciting year chairing the incredibly talented group of fundraising professionals on the AFP Toronto Congress 2015 Management Committee. As a team of volunteers and staff, we’ve accomplished so much—both for this Congress, as well as laying the groundwork for future Congresses.

Here are the top five things I am most excited about for the 2015 AFP Toronto Congress:  

1. The Networking 

Like many of you, I am very social. I love seeing the many great friends I have made at past Congresses, as well as making new friends, so the opportunity to network is always important.  Based on the feedback we received from past year’s Congress evaluations, networking is a key priority for many of you as well.  This year, we have increased networking opportunities, such as with our pre-Congress receptions, and made it easier to connect with other delegates through our Congress app. Reconnecting with friends and making new friends has never been so easy.

2. New Technology 

I have been attending Congress for about a decade and each year, despite meticulous planning, I always find myself scrambling as I look for the room numbers of sessions I want to attend.  Now all of that handy information will be available in the Congress app which, if you’ve downloaded it to your smart phone, will be at your fingertips!  All of the session descriptions and room details, along with speaker bios, will be in the palm of your hand.  It also makes networking easier as you can send messages to other members if you join the Congress Community. 

3. Congress Ambassadors

Everyone is friendly at Congress, but sometimes it helps to be able to connect with someone in advance, especially if you don’t know anyone else attending. This year, we are piloting a Congress Ambassador Program.  We have seven regional ambassadors from Vancouver, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, London, Halifax and Montreal that are reaching out to delegates in advance. In some cases, these ambassadors are setting up a pre-conference networking opportunity in their home city, so that delegates come to Congress already knowing a few people.  It’s a great friend-raising idea!

4. Education

Congress is such an amazing opportunity to learn from an incredible group of speakers  we have presenting from around the globe. However, sessions  are not the only learning opportunity. Spending time with other delegates and sharing what you are doing in your fundraising program can provide for some of the best learning opportunities.  

5. Celebrating

What I am most looking forward to is celebrating fundraising.  It’s been a difficult year for fundraisers around the globe, and I hope that Congress can be a time to celebrate!  There have been so many incredible accomplishments by fundraisers this year, so let’s remember and recognize the successes of the past year and opportunities we will all have in the coming year.  We are all so fortunate to be a part of this great sector—let’s not forget to celebrate that!

This year’s Congress theme is Invest: invest on the opportunity, invest in the sector and invest in yourself!   The dedicated volunteers on the Congress Management Committee, along with the amazing staff at the AFP Greater Toronto office, have invested a ton of time and effort in making this year’s Congress a success. I hope all of you joining us in Toronto take advantage of the great learning and networking opportunities, and I encourage anyone interested in volunteering with Congress to get involved.

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