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AFP Supports a New Career-Track Training for Indigenous Fundraisers

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New School and Indspire


AFP in Canada is supporting a career-track fundraising initiative for Indigenous students across the country—a program developed by The New School of Fundraising and Indspire.

Indspire—formerly known as the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation—is a national organization that invests in the education of Indigenous people. The New School of Fundraising is an Indigenous-led school that offers small group and individual training for professional fundraisers, board members, volunteers and community leaders.

Like most things in fundraising, the ground-breaking project came as a result of relationships.

Rowena Veylan
Rowena Veylan

“I met someone from Indspire at an event hosted by the Central City Foundation and we had an idea,” says Rowena Veylan, founder and lead instructor of The New School of Fundraising. “The idea was to offer Indigenous students exposure to fundraising through Indspire’s Rivers to Success program and introduce fundraising as a potential career.” Rivers to Success works with Indigenous students on establishing or transitioning their careers, offering tools, courses and support to help them on their educational journey.

“The partnership with Indspire was a perfect fit for us,” says Veylan. “And I knew that I wanted to bring in AFP Canada too. I have been involved with AFP for many years and owe a lot of my own career to connections that I have made through the association.”

Rea Ganesh, chair-elect of AFP Canada, is the lead on AFP in Canada’s work on Truth and Reconciliation, along with Amanda Fritz, CFRE, chair-elect of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada. Together, they are focused on building on the work of the joint working group that identified meaningful actions that AFP in Canada can take on Truth and Reconciliation.

“We were thrilled to be asked to be involved,” says Ganesh. “This work is perfectly aligned with our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and our work currently underway under AFP’s IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) umbrella, which is indicative of the importance we attached to the work. AFP Canada is excited to introduce and welcome new Indigenous fundraisers to the AFP community.”

AFP will offer graduates: 

  • One year of membership;
  • An introduction to the nearest AFP chapter as a way to being engaged with ongoing education, mentoring and networking; and
  • Help in identifying prospective internship opportunities.  

“The program was announced, and we held an info session in November. Indspire vetted the candidates, and we had more interest than we could fill,” says Veylan. “Some participants are currently in university, some are working, and some have just graduated from high school. They see the opportunity to support their community and develop a very interesting set of skills.”

Veylan designed a specialized curriculum that would, she hoped, resonate with the students’ cultural values as well as their prior experiences with school, work, family and community. It involves four weeks of course content (a total of 11 hours) and three community of practice sessions, created to build community within the group.

“We have had special guests join us already and we have more scheduled for our community of practice sessions,” says Veylan, “Jennifer Johnstone, chair of AFP Canada, will be joining each cohort to speak about ethics and fundraising. Our guests have spoken about everything from corporate funding to their career paths. There are always a lot of great questions.”

Both cohorts have now finished their course content and the community of practice sessions are starting soon.

Rea Ganesh met the second cohort and extended a greeting to them from AFP Canada. “Doing a briefing with the second cohort was the best thing I’ve done since being involved with AFP’s work on Truth and Reconciliation,” she says. “Meeting the individuals in the group was inspiring. They are young and excited and, as they spoke about their experience, which so many of them shared, I could really relate to it.”

“There is a need to diversify the demographics of fundraisers so they can match the communities fundraisers serve,” says Ganesh. “And we want Indigenous students to see fundraising as a career choice. A career in fundraising allows you to become a changemaker and exposes you to a lot of opportunities.”

“I am cautiously optimistic all the time,” says Veylan, speaking about the environment for Indigenous fundraisers. “Work needs to be done in nonprofits to create welcoming spaces, and I’m pleased those conversations are starting to happen. I think this program could really make a big difference.”

AFP in Canada is deeply committed to IDEA which includes Truth and Reconciliation. Here is a list of past articles on Truth and Reconciliation:

September 25, 2023, One Day’s Pay: A Path to Reconciliation
March 23, 2023, AFP Territorial Acknowledgement: ‘We want to open up a conversation’
November 17, 2022, a three-part series, On the Road to Truth and Reconciliation 
February 16, 2022, Embedding Indigenous Perspective in Our Practice
September 30, 2021, AFP on Truth and Reconciliation: "Actions speak louder …"
October 21, 2020, Indigenous Cultural Training at AFP Chapters: Canadian History Re-learned
March 4, 2020, Indigenous Perspectives on Philanthropy: An Emerging Force

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