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AFP International Conference: A Refresher in Skills and Spirit

April 12, 2016

by Theresa Butler-Porter, CFRE

theresa butler porterTo say that I was thrilled when I got the word that I had been awarded the Chamberlain Scholarship by the AFP Toronto Chapter would be an understatement.  I am so very grateful for the opportunity.

While every session at the AFP International Fundraising Conference in Boston left me even more inspired than the last, it was the people I met who had a lasting impression on me. 

  • Alex and Annie from the Seattle Opera: the arts are a tough sell these days, but I believe these two are part of a philanthropic movement that will make a difference. 
  • Lynda from Fort Worth, Texas: new to development but understands what it takes to ensure that Lena Pope School will thrive in the future.
  • Juanita from South Carolina, whose powerful story about how her Church saved the lives of a mother and son living in a car in the mall parking lot left me in tears, yet grateful that people like Juanita existed.  
  • And Zoe, whose commitment to working to eradicate worldwide hunger with Action Against Hunger was humbling.

Yes, the learning was extraordinary, but the 3,500 attendees were inspirational. 

The youth presence at the conference was overwhelming, reinforcing the statistic that in 2015 the average age of a new fundraiser is 27 years old. No longer are people like me "falling" into this vocation, but intentionally choosing it as a career path. That is a very good thing for the long-term prospects of our profession.

The energy, confidence and creativity among these young people was contagious. I returned to my organization knowing that the role we play is integral to the quality of our future.  When the time comes that I can't keep up anymore—and the problems that need to be solved  are problems I can't even comprehend—I am confident that the planet will be in very good hands.

To the AFP Toronto Chapter, I can't thank you enough for this opportunity.  It refreshed my spirit and reminded me that making a difference is a personal responsibility. Philanthropy is key to the change we wish for, and the change we make possible.

Gaining valuable experience working within social justice, healthcare and university advancement teams, Theresa Butler-Porter found her "joyful place" when she joined Lakefield College School in 2004 – an independent, coed day/boarding high school 90 minutes north of Toronto. Whether as a professional or as a volunteer, Theresa believes that she has the best of both worlds: working with individuals to support causes they believe in and helping them to make a significant impact. 

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