Archive for November 2012

Insights and Inspirations from AFP Congress 2012

Fabulous theatre, inspiring and instructive professional Development!

AFP Toronto Congress has now been over for more than one week and while it seems longer than that in many ways, we are now bringing our experiences to life in our practice.

My personal reasons for attending are as follows:

  • Adding to my body of knowledge in our profession of fundraising
  • Connecting with fundraisers and learning about their needs
  • Identifying dynamic presenters and original ideas to include at

The plenary sessions were outstanding this year and anyone attending can attest to the amazing talent and creativity that we saw, especially in the Fundraising Theatre on the last day and  Don Tapscott with his jazz improv session. Just fantastic!

Here now is a brief review of the workshops I attended and the takeaways. (Some of the ideas and presenters will show up at over the next year.)

1. Beyond Small-Town Fundraising: Grassroots and Rural Development.

I was already familiar with the wonderful and experienced Cynthia Armour who was one of my first three presenters last year. Cynthia uses humour and warmth to connect with her audience and she really knows her fundraising.

Shelley Allison from New Brunswick was new to me and I was very impressed with her quiet command of her topic. She is an effective communicator and has proven a strong and able leader of Big Brothers/Sisters and Boys & Girls Club. She shows us what is possible in a small town area like the Miramichi. One challenge in this area is the new and emerging generation of donors. Will they support their community as their parents did?

Next was The Philanthropic Mind: Getting to Know Canada’s Top Philanthropists led by Matthew English and Mo Lidsky. Many of us were intrigued to see what they had learned and included in their new book.

They got very good access to some of our wealthiest donors and heard a lot about what they love/hate about working with charities.

One disturbing section reported some expectations of rewards for giving that would violate AFP fundraising ethics. This ranged from the relatively benign request for a special parking place at the facility they are supporting, such as a hospital to wanting to jump queues for medical treatment. Mo had a seminal story of a million + donation to a medical school withdrawn when the donor’s son was not admitted. We also heard of a doctor soliciting a wealthy patient as he was going under for surgery. Ethics horror stories? What you know about you can begin to address so this was a fascinating session.

Surprisingly after all these years at AFP Toronto, I had never had the pleasure of attending a session with Kay Sprinkel Grace. She had us in the palm of her hand. If you have not had the pleasure, make sure you catch her.

Perhaps it will be on a webinar at

Tuesday I began the day with a case study presented by Sharon Lee on Reaching Diverse Communities.

She reported on original work with Muslim, Tamil and Sikh communities. Very fruitful and very valuable!

I hope to include this work in an upcoming session with Stay tuned.

Umeeda Switlo of CUSO then presented a case study on  her experiences in Rwanda working with a local mental health organization to build revenue, self esteem and hope with some social enterprises she helped them start. Umeeda said ‘I started my assignment by trying to understand what the organizations needed. I had never worked with deaf, blind or physically handicapped people, or people with mental health challenges, so there was a real learning curve. I decided to work with those that had the biggest financial challenges, UPHLS, an umbrella organization working with people with disabilities and HIV/AIDS, and NOUSPR, a national organization working with users and survivors of psychiatry. I was so happy to hear that the organizations didnot want to be dependent on funds from outside the country.


Notable was the powerful symbol of the kite. They began to create large kites that can be flown and tiny kites as   pins and a symbol. Together we created a branding and fundraising tool for NOUSPR, a lapel pin of a kite made of traditional kitenge cloth and beads. The kite symbolizes the hopes and dreams of those that suffered from mental illness.  It could be a great in-country fundraiser, with people proudly wearing the pin in support of the organization. What was best was that a cooperative for women with mental health challenges made the pins, earned money and raised funds for NOUSPR.ization.

Umeeda will present on this inspiring topic April 4, 2013 at

I took the opportunity to attend two sessions with Laura Fredricks who is one of the most seasoned and respected fundraising leaders in our profession.

Laura is notable for her insights, her depth of knowledge and how she engages us all in the session to move the discussion forward. Excellent!



 Last and a great way to end was Simone Joyaux. Her challenging session stimulated us to envision a path to non profit leadership. Do not be mere technicians! Read about the wider issues of non profit governance, financial management, human resources and much more.

Five Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases (And How to Avoid Them)

The choice of which tools you will use for keeping track of donors is a big decision with lasting impact on your organization.

On April 25, Robert Weiner and Jeff Gignac will discuss ‘Five Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases (And How to Avoid Them)’.
More Information Register Now

Snowbirds & Philanthropy

Coming up on March 21 , another great webinar with Terry Burton

More Information           Register Now

Starting a Social Enterprise: The First 5 Years

Join us on January 24, 2013 for a session on starting up and getting through the first five years of a new social enterprise.
more info

Social Enterprise in Rio Favelas


This year, the World Forum for Social Enterprise (Oct 16-18) was held in Rio de Janeiro at the Centro Cultural Ação da Cidadania and I had the privilege of attending.

I was particularly excited by the chance to join site visits to local social enterprises.

Tuesday, October 16, attendees could go to in the morning to either

Projeto Rio Ecosol.

Rio Ecosol was established to promote the local “solidaritu economy”, supporting entrepreneurs in the four communities of Manguinhos, Complexo do Alemao, Santa Marta and Cidade de Deus. These are all favelas in Rio. The last, Cidade de Deus, was the subject of the 2002 film City of God.


The Valle Encantado Cooperative, which was the one we visited.

The Valle Encantado Cooperative was created by members of the community of Valle Encantado (“The Enchanted Vally”) in the Tijuca Forest, one of the largest urban forests in the world and the third largest in Brazil to create economic opportunities through eco-tourism and the promotion of local cuisine.

Social/Environmenal Mission

Tijuca Forest’s original vegetation was Atlantic Rainforest; however, due to degradation processes caused by the removal of timber for building, firewood and charcoal, and expansion of coffee plantations and other crops, this was partially destroyed. Portuguese Emperor D. Pedro II ordered the area to be reforested with a rich and diverse flora of native and exotic species.vale-encantado-photo-3

Today the Forest remains home to rare tree and plant species as well as protected animals. In 1991, the Tijuca Forest was registered by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. A joint effort of government and the communities surrounding the park has developed the Alto da Boa Vista Citizenship Council, aimed at managing the coexistence of the communities with the conservation of the Tijuca National Park. The Forest is also home to a community of over 400 inhabitants.

Social Enterprise

The lack of job opportunities and concerns about environmental conservation led the Vale Encantado community to seek new opportunities for social and economic development. Deforestation, lack of employment, poor sanitation, lack of street lighting, waste collection and public transport, lead the community to organize itself into a Cooperative – COOVE-RJ (the Vale Encantado Cooperative Ltd.) – aimed at transforming Vale Encantado into a tourist destination in Rio. The proximity of the Tijuca National Park, the lush natural surroundings, and the community’s unique organization has attracted interest of foreign and Brazilian tourists. The community is now an ecotourism destination and seeks to stimulate sustainable tourism through two main lines of action: 1) nature trails, and 2) promoting local cuisine.


The COOVE’s Social Buffet is a social business intended to introduce tourists to local cuisine while generating income especially for the local women of the community. Today COOVE has 20 members employed as management staff, chefs, waiters and tour guides. COOVE expects to be completely self-sustaining through the

Wewill arrived at Vale Encantado, located in Alto da Boa Vista, an area known for its natural beauty (rainforest, rivers and waterfalls). Our first activity included a one-hour, easy eco-tour guided walk with magnificent views of Rio’s West Zone beaches. Our guide showed us the local fauna and flora and explained  the way in which the community interacts with its natural environment, including its history, struggles, accomplishments and the creation of the COOVE cooperative.

Originally the inhabitants came to be coffee farmers. They own their small land holdings which they wish to continue to live on. The challenge is make a living and the social enterprise is a way that if successful may help them stay. There are external pressures from the desire of others to develop what is now valuable real estate with beautiful views.

Will the cooperative be able to attract tourists? It is a lovely setting, the hike not too ardurous with local sustainably grown produce cooked into a delightful lunch.

Will the residents be able to withstand the pressures of encroaching development? Can this social enterprise model work to provide income for the residents?

Engaging Your Board in Planned Giving

D5 A fabulous resource for diversity in fund development

In their own words, this is what D5 is about.

‘D5 is a five-year coalition to grow philanthropy’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2010, foundations and philanthropy organizations came together to form an unprecedented coalition of 18 infrastructure organizations and set a strategic agenda to help philanthropy become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. The world is changing. We believe philanthropy should change with it. The ultimate goal of this work is to help foundations achieve greater impact in an increasingly diverse landscape.’

Among the resources that are provided is a study of 15-Successful-Diversity-Focused-Funds.

The PDF is found at

These are teh 15 funds studied:
1. Asian American Federation (New York)
2. Asian Pacific Fund (San Francisco)
3. Asian Women’s Giving Circle (New York)
4. African American Legacy Initiative (Chicago)
5. Twenty-First Century Foundation (New York)
6. The Hispanic Development Fund (Kansas City, MO)
7. Hispanic Federation (New York)
8. Latino Community Foundation (San Francisco)
9. First Nations Development Institute (Longmont, CO)
10. Potlatch Fund (Seattle)
11. Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development (Arcata, CA)
12. Horizons Foundation (San Francisco)
13. Pride Foundation (Seattle)
14. Chicago Foundation for Women (Chicago)
15. Women’s Foundation of California (San Francisco)