Day in the Ridings Report
By Dan Brunette
I’m proud to annouce that AFP Canada’s first Day in the Ridings (DITR) event was a success and continues to bear fruit for our public policy program.
Led and managed through the Canada Government Relations Committee, DITR’s main goal was to engage local politicians and policy makers and establish positive relationships with AFP chapters and members. As AFP continues to advocate before the government, the enhanced relationships will serve us well as we work to educate elected officials about the importance of fundraising and what charities need to do their jobs more effectively.
The AFP Canada Government Relations Committee sent introductory letters and meeting invitations to all of our 338 MPs in Canada, which included an AFP Canada Fact Sheet. The letters were signed by Scott Decksheimer, the chair of the AFP Canada Board, and the appropriate chapter president.
MPs were asked to meet in their riding offices, as opposed to a typical Parliament Hill meeting, so different members from the chapter—especially those who can’t normally get to Ottawa—were able to participate. Ottawa was offered as an alternative location in case a ridings meeting was not possible.
The response from chapters leaders and members was tremendous, as chapters were able to hold 71 meetings from coast to coast with MPs, including seven ministers. I’m so pleased that 90 percent of chapters participated. For many of the elected officials and their teams, it marked the beginning of a new relationship with the charitable sector, one that they can tap into should they have sector ideas or issues that they would like to discuss with AFP.
The initiative also began the long-term process of involving AFP chapters and members in the public policy process. DITR was not only a good introduction for those elected to serve us, but some of the tools developed for the event have a broader purpose and can help shape the tone and narrative of conversations about the charitable sector in our country
For example, the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter led the development of a position paper that provided background on AFP and issues and challenges facing the fundraising profession and the charitable sector. Juniper Locilento, a board member with the Toronto chapter, authored the paper, using content and research from AFP sources as well as both internal & external stakeholder interviews. Asking Matters – Charitable Fundraising in Canada is available to all members in both official languages, as is its executive summary.
This DITR initiative was very well received, and discussion topics ranged from who AFP is and what it does (with some surprised MPs who didn’t know anything about fundraising), to sector collaborations (Imagine Canada, CAGP etc.); the endorsement of Don Johnson’s proposal on the elimination of capital gains on privately held stock and Real estate; and the proposed Senate Study on the charitable sector.
On this last note, we were delighted to learn, halfway through the DITR meetings, that Senator Terry Mercer’s proposal was accepted.
The AFP Canada Government Relations Committee is thrilled with the results of the inaugural Day In The Ridings, which created a solid foundation for carrying on this initiative in the coming years. It’s important to realize that our 71 meetings engaged just 21% percent of MPs in Canada—a great number for our first event, but which underscores how much work we can still do.
I am so appreciative of all of the work of our chapters and members—thank you! The committee realizes that our approach to DITR relied heavily on engaging both chapters and individual members in the public policy process, as the intent was to coordinate introductory meetings to raise awareness about AFP with elected officials. You did the heavy lifting, but the results were great, and now we have identified numerous “sector champions” that we can cultivate relationships with in the future.
If you would like to get involved in such activities, please notify both your chapter and AFP-Canada via Cynthia Quigley at email@example.com.