Becoming a New Indigenous Fundraiser

I initially applied to this program to improve my leadership abilities: an ability I think is an essential skill, especially working with/in the Indigenous community.

When you choose to become something that only a few people recognize, it becomes a challenge. You have to put yourself in a situation where you stand out. And let me tell you, I am the last person who wants to stand out, but I believe if you stand for something you care about, then you are willing to put yourself out there. And that is exactly what I did.

On Thursday, March 20, 2016, I spoke alongside another fellow Mohit Pramanik in front of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Toronto Chapter Board of Directors at their retreat. We were asked by our Program Manager Sahar Vermezyari to speak about the impact that this Fellowship program has had on our lives professionally and personally.  I brought awareness to the fact that there are not many Indigenous Fundraisers in the not-for-profit sector and I expressed my enthusiasm for starting a new career as a, “New Indigenous Fundraiser”.

Ken Aucoin, my previous VP who is a current member of AFP, shared some information about this Fellowship program, and encouraged me to apply. He mentioned that there are not many Indigenous fundraisers, and this would be a great opportunity. Sarah Midanik, who is also a fellow wrote a blog called, “Am I Invited? Fundraising in the Indigenous Community”. Found on the AFP website here: http://www.afpinclusivegiving.ca/story/am-i-invited-fundraising-in-the-indigenous-community/.

Sarah says in her blog,

“Fundraising in the Indigenous Community does not get much attention, and Indigenous fundraisers are equivalent of the Beluga Whale- they exist but are a rarity for sure”

“I can personally count all the Indigenous fundraisers I know in Canada in one hand, and several of them are in this program”

I am proud to say that I am one of the several Indigenous Fundraisers that Sarah mentions in her blog, and l feel so very lucky to be a part of this Fellowship program.  As a younger fellow with less professional experience compared to some of my peers in the program, I was a bit intimidated in participating and contributing in a meaningful way. However, after attending my first Congress and participating in many webinars, I have come to the realization that there is just simply more for me to learn. There was nothing to be nervous about, and my newness to the field just meant that I had that much more to learn and gain from this program.

Above all, I think it is important to acknowledge that this program really changed the trajectory of my career, and made me consider how a career in fundraising could be a rewarding life choice. I would like to thank the selection committee for believing in my potential and I would like to thank AFP and the Funders: the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade’s Partnership Office. I have learned so much, and hope to continue to learn as I grow into a career in fundraising and fundraising as a, ‘New Indigenous Fundraiser”. I want to help my Indigenous community invest in their communities, their organizations, to help educate, and overall increase awareness of the importance of fundraising. Without basic fundraising skills, many great Indigenous organizations close down because of the lack of basic fundraising practices.  This program will help educate me, and support me to become a leader in the Indigenous community. By choosing this program and a career in fundraising, I am that much closer to reaching my goal of standing out, making a difference, and most of all helping out in a meaningful way.