*Warning,this is always my longest post of the year.
I do this by creating a network, an army of passionate professionals to aid me in this task. Each year I name my ‘most valuable players’ in this network in gratitude for outstanding awesomeness that year.
I call them “my golden crabs”. I know, it’s weird.
These are people who keep in touch about their goals and needs, make time to get to networking events (just a couple, not all) and who help and push me to achieve my goals (and let me help with theirs). I’m happy to name four GC’s this year… in no order they are:
Emma Jenkin was an ‘honourable mention’ last year. This year it was as if we were both on a mission. I’m not a runner, but I imagine this is what it must feel like to run with someone. Emma stepped up her game in 2013; a new job, new personal skill development and she has become my official ‘artist in residence’. Her design skills have been used for my networking projects and even to help my wife and I launch an exciting new project, “Pocket Style”. I still don’t understand how she exists ( see what I wrote about her last year ), truly a renaissance woman for our times. Her grasp of culture, art, business, digital, social is a constant inspiration for my personal life goals.
Another name that is not new to my network is Ahmed Nizam. I met him a few years ago when he was the official photographer for an amazing fundraising concept called “TimeRaiser” which is now a big Canadian success story. He took what was my first professional headshot. Since then he has so kindly taken headshots for over 100 peers at my networking events and he has helped me understand the power of this simple medium in a social media age. Now, look at this guy. Would you think that he is an MBA who works on Bay St. in financial services? His passion for photography keeps him busy but he always makes time to live life, try new things, give back to his community and help others. And yes, because we keep in touch about projects we’re working on, he’s also the official photographer of “Pocket Style”.
I have been sitting on a dream for several years, and it was called “Director School” for fundraisers. As much as I love the many associations in my profession, many individuals would never go to a personal career development workshop because a dysfunctional nonprofit management environment means no employer would pay to send them and it’s ‘bad form’ to attend them during work hours. The wonderful work of Penelope Burke aside, that’s a load of garbage. I’ve known and felt it for years and wanted to be part of the solution. Enter David Hutchinson. Although I have great relationships with Canada’s best nonprofit executive search firms like Crawford Connect, Philip JW Smith, the West Coast Phil’s Careers and Goldie Company, no one keeps in touch and has served as a sounding board and mentor as David. When I pitched the idea of ‘Director School’ he got it, was on board and was a big part of making it happen, along with 2013’s exciting new find, Janice Cunning, fundraising coach. David’s commitment to making sure leaders in fundraising find the right place to use their skills, and finding the right skills for charities and his dedication to networking in a sector that rejects good network building is something I consider to be a rare gift.
Last but not least, the youngest recipient of the GC Award is Shannon MacInnes. I’ve waited 13 years for my college at my alma mater to give birth to a fundraiser who loves our profession. When I met Shannon she was one of the now hundreds of Humber Fundraising Management students to come out of this amazing program (I’m proud to say in 2013 that I became the Chair of the Advisory Committee with). I wasn’t sure she was special. Like my twitter handle and motto “You invite You”, I waited and she proved herself time and time again. She kept in touch, she made time to invest in her career, she generously invested time in being both a fundraising learning partner and volunteered with me to cook for now several dozen University students as part of a cool alumni networking program that I love called “dinner with 12 strangers” at UofT. So many great leaders have said to me “I want to mentor someone who is open to learning, who will walk through the doors I open, who will not embarrass me when I vouch for them and who will make me proud to be associated with”. I mentor dozens of young professionals each year, and Shannon is one of the finest I know.
Honourable mentions go to:
Fundraising leader Kimberley Mackenzie for facilitating a dinner that was meant to be networking but ended up being the single most powerful personal growth event of my year.
The ladies of Tweetcottage, for bringing me along ( a la weekend at Bernie’s ) and making me feel welcome and loved as a friend after so many years of being a peer.
The chance to share ideas with my professional community was a dream I never thought would become possible. But in 2013 I had the privilege to publish articles in Canada’s Fundraising eNews (Hilborn), Gift Planning in Canada, the Association of Fundraising Professionals eNews, the Globe and Mail Giving Guide , the Canadian Donors Guide and most exciting a chapter in “The Vigilant Fundraiser” – all on my most beloved topics of Planned Giving and Social Media for Social Profit.
Speaking of dreams come true, I have just one more on my professional bucket list before I die ( yes, just one ) and it is to teach Canada’s Original one week Planned Giving course. And in 2013 I have started on that path as an official instructor with the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, a community I have dedicated my professional life to. Teaching this course is the single greatest professional joy in my life.
And I wouldn’t be there without the continued support of the Georgian College Fundraising program where I get to teach the online national course in Planned Giving, now for the fourth year in a row.
This year on evenings and weekends, I spoke at several student leader conferences on the power of networking. As someone who had trouble at school, it was so wonderful to help students find their way. Most of all it was a high point of the year to host my 112th student at “Dinner with 12 strangers” after being an alumni host for the past four years.
A special thanks to someone I don’t know that well. Nilofer Merchant and her ‘networking while walking’ TED Talk and article changed my life. How? Well, networking is my life ( you knew that right? ) and moving out of the coffee shop ( we still always start at Starbucks ) and into the natural world has been powerful. I’ve had over 100 ‘netwalking’ meetings and they have all been fantastic and yes, great for my health too.
LASTLY, 2013 was the year that ALL the Golden Crabs from previous years returned in full force. From Alan Kay’s video, to Brock’s new blog, flying to Regina because of Christina, to speaking sessions with Leah and John, Krypton College with Promod, walking with Ann, Lisa’s national media coverage and the ever present Clare Mcdowall. I am forever grateful and in the debt of all of you.
I exist at the service of others. But I can’t do my best without all of you. As we start 2014 please hear my voice, sincere and passionate – thank you!!!