Advancing Philanthropy

AFP Member Spotlight: Member Spotlight – Daina Robinson

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Daina Robinson
Daina Robinson

Daina Robinson is a communications and fundraising professional with over 13 years experience in the nonprofit sector. Her passion for storytelling and advancing health care has contributed to her success as a leader in marketing and annual giving in the Greater Toronto Area. Daina is now the director of marketing and communications at Lakeridge Health Foundation where she is raising funds and awareness for one of Ontario’s largest health systems. Among her accomplishments, Daina is the creator of NightShift, North America’s first and only medical simulation challenge for the public and was recognized as a top 40 under 40 in 2019 by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy.

As a member of the Emerging Leaders Mentor Program, she’s sharing how her experience has impacted her career as a fundraiser and how her mentor has helped her reach career milestones.

How did you start your career in the fundraising profession and what led you there?

After volunteering at a university, I was inspired to find a career that would let me give back. I jumped at the chance to get a not-for-profit management diploma once I finished my undergraduate degree and learned I could combine all of my passions into a job where I could help others.

Why did you apply for the Emerging Leader’s mentor program?

Collaboration and learning from others have always been very important to me. Being involved in a program that is helping develop women in the profession was exciting and appealing on so many levels. I am very proud to have been part of the inaugural Women’s Impact Initiative (WII) mentor and mentee program.

What were the positive experiences that came out of your mentor/mentee relationship?

I was matched with Kathy Rabon, the chief philanthropy and marketing officer at Suncoast Hospice Foundation. Kathy and I were able to connect on both a personal and professional level. We spent a lot of time chatting about how our careers had progressed and the goals we both had moving forward.

Despite being in different stages of our professions, and different countries, we found a lot of similarities in what we wanted to accomplish with our charities and found common ground in seeing the same challenges ahead.

Describe a moment that surprised you or challenged you during the program.

While our original goal was to focus on a capital campaign launch strategy, Kathy and I spoke about annual giving and, in particular, the challenges she was seeing with tribute donors. We bonded over the trials and tribulations we were having and her specific hospice environment. The strategies Kathy was putting in place with her colleagues in Florida inspired the work I was doing in Ontario.

Being a part of the WII mentor program helped expand my network and connect me with some incredible fundraising professionals that I would not have otherwise met. I’m very grateful for that.

What is a current challenge you or your peers are facing in regards to your professional fundraising career?

The obvious COVID-19 and hiring challenges aside, one of the biggest things we’ve encountered as of late is keeping up with the data and analytics involved with our rapidly growing digital fundraising programs. With things like Facebook pixel processes changing frequently and the amount of information related to online marketing, our small but mighty team is having to work hard to deeply understand and have the information at our fingertips, track conversions, tailor messages to our audience and keep the momentum of online activity going.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and did having a mentor help you reach that goal?

I’m proud of so many of my accomplishments over the years, but the summer I was participated in the WII mentor program, I was named one of the top 40 under 40 through the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy. Kathy was a big cheerleader for me in that process. Receiving that award while also participating in the WII program made it extra special.

How did your mentor help you work through a challenge?

Launching a capital campaign can be a daunting task, but Kathy’s breadth of experience and mentorship provided some great insight into what has worked for her and what I could translate into my own plans at Lakeridge Health Foundation. Having someone to brainstorm with was a real asset. Although plans to launch our campaign were delayed for two years after the mentorship program concluded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kathy’s counsel still supported some of the details that went into the planning and successful launch of our $20 Campaign.

How has AFP and the community (AFP Global and/or your chapter) helped you with your success?

Being a part of the WII mentor program helped expand my network and connect me with some incredible fundraising professionals that I would not have otherwise met. I’m very grateful for that.

What is your dream job?

I have it! Every morning I wake up and know that the work my team and I do is helping change lives.

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