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AFP Canada’s Fundraising Narrative on the Road Again with Session at AFP ICON

Career Development: Your Fundraising Career
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Johnstone, Mehta, Dossous


AFP Canada’s Narrative for Canadian Fundraising continues to be of interest to fundraisers around the world and is part of the session line up at AFP ICON in New Orleans, April 16-18. 

The original Narrative, published in 2019, was commissioned by AFP Canada and developed by independent U.K. think tank Rogare as a toolkit for discussions about the value and impact of fundraising and philanthropy. After a review through a diversity and decolonizing lens, a second iteration of the Narrative was published in 2022 containing new data points, resources, and Canadian-specific examples to further contextualize and address the myriad of issues fundraisers are currently confronting. This is the first training offered on this new version of the Narrative.

The highly interactive Narrative training session gives fundraisers a chance to practice incorporating some of the building blocks and key messages from the Narrative into a variety of responses to some of the main ideas about charities and common objections to fundraising encountered every day with colleagues, the media, and donors.

The AFP ICON session, called A Narrative for Professional Fundraisers, will introduce participants to the Narrative and how to use it to effectively communicate the impact of the work fundraisers do. Participants can expect to learn:

  • How to feel more positive about the need to ask for money and its critical role in supporting the mission of their organization;
  • How to talk about fundraising and its contribution to improving communities;
  • How to explain the work and impact of fundraising to key stakeholders; and 
  • Questions to consider when looking at the fundraising profession through a diversity and decolonizing lens. 

Session leaders include Nancy Dossous, CFRE, McGill University Health Centre Foundation, Director, Development; Jennifer Johnstone, Central City Foundation, President & CEO; and Krishan Mehta, PhD, Toronto Metropolitan University, AVP, Engagement.  

More than 500 fundraisers in Canada and Australia have already been trained on the Narrative.  

Originally developed in an environment where some charities and their fundraising methods were facing increasing criticism globally, the upcoming ICON session on the Narrative is coming at a time when trust in charities and NGOs is declining. The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, which surveys citizens in 28 countries, found that only 51 percent of people believe charities or NGOs are “a reliable source of trustworthy information,” while 29 percent of people believe them to be “a source of false or misleading information.”  In 2013, the Edelman Trust Barometer found 63% of those surveyed trusted NGOs “to do what is right.”

“In a society that is more polarized than ever it is critical that fundraisers are able to communicate their message in a nuanced and relevant way,” says Dossous. “The Narrative is essentially a toolkit for fundraisers as they engage in discussions about the value and impact of fundraising and philanthropy.”

AFP Canada’s recent revision of the Narrative included adding an acknowledgement of Indigenous people as the original stewards of the land we now call Canada, and the devastating legacy colonization has had—and continues to have—on Indigenous communities.

“The Narrative is a work in progress and responds to the everchanging fundraising space. In 2022, AFP Canada decided to take another look at how the Narrative could incorporate equity and justice issue across the sector,” says Mehta. “It has been a useful tool in helping explain how fundraisers can continue to be innovative, inclusive and take bold action. As part of this work, questions and resources about decolonization, anti-racism, and emerging ideas in the sector are incorporated." 

“Fundraising is about making sure charities have the resources to be able to best serve their beneficiaries,” says Johnstone who is also chair of AFP Canada. “The work of so many charities makes an incredible impact on our communities, and it’s important that, as fundraisers we can speak to people about how fundraising helps make this possible. The Narrative provides an important tool to do that.”

A Narrative for Professional Fundraisers, which takes place on April 17, will be of interest to fundraisers from Canada and other countries. For those who cannot attend AFP ICON 2023 in New Orleans, the sessions recordings will be available for sale. Stay tuned for more information on how to order. 


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