Chapter Spotlight

AFP Chapter Spotlight: Vancouver Island Chapter Hosts AFP in Canada Leadership Retreat

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Vancouver Island Chapter


The AFP in Canada Leadership Retreat will jet its way to the most westerly point of the country this year when it is hosted by the AFP Vancouver Island chapter from July 25-27, 2024.

The retreat will bring AFP leaders from across the country together to discuss the fundraising profession in a Canadian context. Chapter board members are encouraged to attend, especially chapter presidents and presidents-elect, in addition to board and committee members of both AFP Canada and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy - Canada.  

“We’ve been involved in the planning of the leadership retreat since 2022,” says Julia Keenan, CFRE, president of the Vancouver Island chapter. “We’re a small community of fundraisers, quite literally on an island, so when professional development opportunities come along, we are very keen to be part of them.”  

Currently alumni relations manager at the University of Victoria, Keenan says she got her start in fundraising by being one of those kids who loved knocking on neighbours’ doors to get pledges for walk-a-thons or other school projects. “Being part of something bigger was always a draw for me. A volunteer role at the Canadian Red Cross kicked off my career in fundraising. Seeing the impact that the organization was having in response to world crises showed me the power of collective action and the role I could play in it. Now, I work at the University of Victoria and volunteer at my AFP chapter, so I continue to find purpose in trying to make a difference in my community and beyond.”

This leadership retreat needs a long planning window.

“Jane Potentier, CFRE, the past chair of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy - Canada, and member of the AFP Vancouver Island chapter, was very involved in bringing forward the idea of our chapter hosting the retreat,” says Keenan. “The board realized what this opportunity could mean for our membership and region, so we advocated for Victoria.
A planning committee was formed almost two years ago.”

“The Vancouver Island chapter has made hosting the retreat a chapter priority,” Keenan adds. “I want to acknowledge Monica Powell, our chapter administrator, whose role is central in our ability to be able to do this.”

The purpose of the retreat is to create a forum for community and national leadership to discuss important topics facing the fundraising profession in Canada. The goal of the 2024 retreat is to support AFP leaders in Canada in navigating current and potential challenges in our profession. The retreat team strives to create a welcoming event where all attendees feel they can contribute. They aim to create a fun and inclusive space, and to provide valuable updates, information and context on AFP entities and activities.

“Our responsibility as a chapter is to host the Friday night social event, to lead retreat sponsorship, and to provide a warm welcome to the Island. Members of the Vancouver Island chapter are invited to the event on Friday night, so everyone who wants to can meet the AFP leaders who will join us in Victoria for the retreat,” says Keenan. “Also, a priority in hosting the retreat is to invite a guest speaker. We are thrilled to share that Sage Lacerte has agreed to join us.”

The retreat provides a forum for fundraising leaders to contribute to national initiatives led by AFP Canada and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy - Canada. It is an opportunity for them to discuss what’s working in their chapters, how they are dealing with challenges, and trends they see forming.

“The importance of leadership skill development can be overlooked, with the multitude of priorities we all face,” says Keenan. “Yet these competencies are central to the success of our work, our teams and ourselves. The retreat works to help attendees to build their own credibility, connection and growth to be leaders in their own organizations.”

When the Vancouver Island chapter is not planning to host the AFP in Canada Leadership Retreat, its other priorities include ensuring IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) is integrated into every aspect of its activities. The chapter is focused on providing an inclusive space for new members, including the creation of inspiring educational opportunities, such as the mentorship program where newcomers are paired with more senior fundraisers. They are planning something important and engaging for National Philanthropy Day on November 15.

“We are a smaller chapter,” says Keenan. “Right now, we have 100 members, and a very small board, so when it comes to our work, we take a “do what we can well” approach. And, for us, respecting people’s time and leveraging their talents is the key. Even though we’re small, as are many organizations in our sector, we all need to remember there’s value in what we are doing, and that we can make positive change in the world around us.”

To learn more about  the AFP in Canada Leadership Retreat, click on this link.

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