The 8 #AFPCongress2021 sessions you won’t want to miss!

Wow. What an exciting line up The AFP GTC Congress team has put together this year! The theme is “Connected, we thrive” and I think everyone who attends will leave set up to flourish in their organizations, fundraising efforts, and personally within their roles.

There are so many great topics being covered by an incredible group of speakers but there are a few that stood out to us.

The last 18 months have taken a significant toll on many long-standing organizations and several were already experiencing challenges prior to the pandemic starting. We think the more organizations are willing to openly share their struggles, solutions, successes and fails, the more it will help others experiencing the same challenges, which brings me to our first stand-out session.

On Monday, Trish Barbato and Jennifer Stewart from The Arthritis Society are sharing The good, the hard and the uncomfortable truths of moving a national health charity from a deficit to a surplus position amid the pressures and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. This sounds like a great session!

Another session that caught our eye was Racialized, Modest Income and Millenial Donors with Roxanne Tackie and Rochelle Greaves. This session is for those looking to have a better understanding of the new trends in giving. It promises to re-examine what the data really reveals about microdonations and rethink the value of small-scale giving. We love data so we can’t wait!

On Tuesday morning, Catalyzing Change – Leveraging Digital Fundraising to Activate Donor Advocacy with Isabel Perez-Doherty of Community Food Centres Canada, and Anjum Sultana of YMCA Canada, looks to be a session we won’t be missing! We are always talking to our clients about digital-first fundraising, and this session promises to cover the strategy and tactics around a successful integrated digital fundraising and advocacy campaign. They will be sharing case studies and giving real world examples — safe to say we will be tuning in for sure!

One of our focuses at Blakely has been (and will continue to be) taking a hard look at our diversity in recruitment strategy. On Tuesday, the session Avoiding the Diversity Revolving Doors will be a ”must see” for our team. Lily Serreau, John Phin, and Adya Afanou promise to give organizations a toolkit for recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse team, as well as sharing key metrics to monitor and drive change in your organization. We’re looking forward to this one.

Of course, we don’t want you to miss our very own Mo Waja’s session with Shannon Stuart of Ontario Shores called Marketing Mental Health on Tuesday. Join them for a conversation on how to market effectively for the cause of mental health in a way that maintains dignity, advances the conversation, and raises revenue.

On Wednesday, Jason Shim, CFRE and Naresh de Silva are presenting Creating Amazing Digital Experiences for Your Staff and Supporters. This session promises to “take you backstage and show you strategy, tactics, and results from Pathways to Education initiatives, as well as share some ongoing experiments. For those looking to bring a digital lens to your organization, this session looks like it will have valuable examples of innovation.

If you, like us, are looking for ways to create more inclusive teams, on Wednesday I would highly recommend you join Tanya Rumble, CFRE, MFA-P™, Nicole McVan, MA, Lindsay Sweeney-Hockin, Paul Nazareth, and Davinia Batley for their session Creating Inclusive Teams Based on Safety and Equity. This promises to help “senior fundraising leaders interested in moving from empathetic allies to actively anti-oppressive, and create organizational culture that actively reflects values of IDEA.” It vows to leave you walking away emboldened and energized with practical and tactical strategies to harness your power as a fundraising leader. These new tools will help in navigating and building relationships with your team, donors, volunteers, board members, and colleagues.

Now more than ever, we have been especially focused on our employee’s mental health. Not being able to connect in person, the stress of the unknown, along with numerous other stressors, have taken their toll on everyone’s mental health. During our three days together at Congress,  The Distress Centres of Greater Toronto will be providing a number for congress attendees to call for support. . On Wednesday, they will be sharing some practical tips on how to build resiliency, working from home best practices, and the importance of self-care. Don’t miss their session Resiliency During COVID-19: How to keep your mental wellness in check while working from home.

As if all the incredible education programming weren’t enough, the networking and social events look amazing! We hope to see you at Blakely Bingo on Monday night — spoiler alert it’s going to be hilarious and there’s lots of prizes to be won! And we are grabbing our stilettos and warming up for the Queen’s Dance Class Performance, and may be polishing it off with a wine tasting or a tea and chocolate sampler tasting — both sound equally delicious.

We can’t wait to see you all there!


-Kelly Lachance, Senior Fundraising Strategist