AFP Canada’s Impact
The pandemic has shone a light on some of the most vulnerable in society—and the important contribution of fundraisers in supporting them. While we’ve long recognized the crucial role that fundraising professionals play in addressing needs in our communities, their impact has never been more apparent than during these past 16 months.
“If you didn’t know the importance of the fundraising sector before the pandemic, you do now,” commented Ken Mayhew, chair of AFP Canada, going on to explain that “our profession is about changing lives. AFP Canada’s work is centered on amplifying that important message from a Canadian context.”
AFP Canada represents 3,200 fundraisers working to support causes and missions from coast to coast to coast. Building on the enormous amount of important and courageous work done by our members, our chapters and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy - Canada, we serve as the voice of the fundraising profession in Canada and are part of the broader AFP Global network, the largest community of professional fundraisers in the world.
We focus on national government relations and communications initiatives targeted to demonstrate the profound impact that professional fundraising has for the causes we serve, whether before government, in the media, with regulatory entities, boards, donors or even within charities. Demonstrating this impact is the core of AFP Canada’s work.
We are proud of all that AFP Canada has accomplished with and through others and our collective growing momentum. Having just passed the mid-point of our year, we thought we’d share a few highlights from 2021.
What’s been accomplished to date
Narrative for Canadian Fundraising
In an effort to change negative perceptions and prevent harmful additional regulation of our sector, AFP Canada developed the Narrative for Canadian Fundraising. The Narrative is no longer new as its core messages now underpin of our work.
The Narrative is focused on changing the discussion to what is truly important—the difference fundraisers make in people’s lives. Instead of asking what it is about charities that people don’t like and how we get them to change their views, the Narrative asks a different question: What is it about fundraising that we value, and can we get other people to value those things too?
While the Narrative continues to guide us, its importance became far more acute in the face of the COVID pandemic. Fundraisers now find themselves in the position of justifying their roles, not only to external stakeholders, but also within their organizations. The Narrative has been a key tool to help them do so.
In June, we expanded the impact of this work by training over 50 AFP leaders some of whom used its messages right away. The feedback from this training speaks for itself:
- “Lots of great tips on how to mitigate or respond to questions that could potentially undermine the work we do.”
- “Loved the discussions! It was very insightful.”
- “I loved seeing how I can use this narrative whenever I talk about what I do. It informs my own understanding of the value of the work I do.”
The importance of fundraising is further reinforced through a series of media tools developed by AFP Canada. In May, we offered training to empower AFP leaders to promote the profession in their local communities. Comments from those who attended include:
- “Please keep doing this!”
- “This training was great!”
- “I am leaving today’s session with practical useable tools.”
In keeping with our focus of elevating fundraising and the impact of giving, AFP Canada worked with The Globe & Mail on a series of ads that promote giving, reminding Canadians of the incredible work of charities and encouraging donations.
The need for a Canadian voice to speak on behalf of our professionals is why AFP Canada was created. This work is guided by our five-year vision for government relations: We advocate for an environment that strengthens effective and ethical fundraising to encourage giving. Our vision is that more asking will lead to more giving and greater impact for the causes we serve.
This vision guided our response to the pandemic. Our sector has played an enormous role responding to those in need—helping some of the most vulnerable in our communities—while seeing a significant drop in resources to do so. With the average charity reporting a decline of 16% in revenue since the start of the pandemic, support for our sector became our priority.
Soon after the start of the pandemic, AFP Canada began advocating for federal financial support for our sector. Our voice, among others, was heard and resulted in our sector receiving federal wage subsidies, targeted to help with pandemic relief, and more recently sector recovery and funding to help combat anti-Black racism.
While we are encouraged by the government’s commitment, it is not enough. We are continuing to advocate for additional funding and much-needed regulatory changes. We will continue to add our voice where it can be most effective.
Public Policies Review
Catalyst for Change: A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector, the report from the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector, was the culmination of 18 months of public hearings from 150 witnesses. It outlines 42 recommendations for the federal government to implement with the intention of strengthening the nonprofit sector. This spring we began a review of key recommendations with the potential to impact the fundraising profession.
Federal Election Preparedness
Raising the profile of the charitable sector is one of our priorities. We are preparing for a possible federal election so we can leverage opportunities to highlight our important contributions to our country and show the government how it can better support our sector.
A Seat at the Table
AFP Canada is part of sector leader discussions and is represented on the Canada Revenue Agency Technical Issues Working Group. In addition, two of AFP’s Government Relations Committee members are sitting on the Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector. Having a seat ensures a Canadian fundraising perspective is part of these discussions.
What to look forward to
“AFP Canada’s work must be relevant, and it must make a difference,” shared Mayhew. “I am proud of our accomplishments and know we will continue to significantly elevate the fundraising profession in Canada. As we recover from the devastation of concurrent pandemics, we must also acknowledge the reality of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism inside and outside our sector.”
Our focus on diversity is woven into our workplans, including the Narrative for Canadian Fundraising. A review of key messages in the Narrative, looking through the lenses of diversity, inclusion and colonialism, is a key priority moving forward. We look forward to releasing the updated version once this work is complete.
AFP Canada policy papers are planned on the following Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector Report recommendations: review of tax measures to incentive giving; home in government; and the disbursement quota. Gifts to non-qualified donees is a secondary focus since this aligns with the Effective and Accountable Charities Act proposed by Senator Omidvar.
A series of resources about the relevance and important role of government on our sector is being developed. We look forward to showcasing these resources through a GR Town Hall, through the AFP Daily to Canadians (published each Thursday) and online.
With a federal election on the horizon, AFP members will be encouraged to engage with local candidates, taking advantage of this opportunity to highlight our profession. We hope each of you will join us in raising the profile of our sector once the election is announced.
Empowering our leaders through education remains a focus of our work. This fall, we will offer the popular Narrative Primer training again, a media training based on our media briefs—a fourth brief on National Philanthropy Day is coming soon—and professionally-led training for AFP media spokespeople. Additionally, the intensive training for Narrative Advocates, first offered in 2019, is being revised with plans to offer it in conjunction with the 2022 Canadian Leadership Retreat in Montreal.
We plan to publish the second edition of two key AFP Canada tools, Fundraising is Awesome and Asking Matters, in English and in French. In addition to updating these resources, our team is looking at them through the lenses of inclusion and diversity.
AFP Canada’s work is guided by a joint strategic plan with the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy - Canada. We are currently in the final phase of developing a new strategic plan which will map out the work to come.