LEADERSHIP | AFP Canada: Embedding IDEA into our work

publication date: Jun 5, 2024
author/source: AFP Canada

AFP Canada was created in 2017 in response to requests from AFP leaders for an entity that focuses specifically on Canadian government relations and communications, as well as priorities such as Truth and Reconciliation.

AFP Canada is one of the four pillars that supports AFP members in Canada, the other three being AFP Global, the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada and AFP chapters. The focus of each is summarized in the chart below.

Over the past seven years, one of the overarching priorities of AFP Canada has been to build a solid foundation for its inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) work.

At the beginning of her term in January 2023, chair Jennifer Johnstone told AFP Daily she wanted to build on the work that AFP Canada has done “… to embed IDEA and decolonize our work, our profession and our sector… I hope to further the work of building an inclusive board of directors where all our members share not only a sense of belonging but are deeply engaged in changing the way that we work together.”

“Recruiting a diverse board is the responsibility of the nominating committee,” Johnstone explained. “The nominating committee works diligently to ensure a diverse lived and learned experience amongst board members and considers demographic diversity—people of different ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, for example, and well as diversity in areas of practice, geographic location, and chapter size.

“In 2022, an independent external diversity and equity expert conducted a review of our nominations process offering recommendations to make it more accessible and improvements to the language on diversity and inclusion,” said Johnstone. “The recommendations have since been implemented at AFP Canada and currently we have a group of board members with diverse lived and learned experience.”

“In addition to ensuring we have a diverse group of board members, we focus intentionally on how we work together,” said AFP Canada board secretary Tanya Rumble, MPNL, CFRE, CMP, MFA-P. An active AFP volunteer, Rumble is the executive director of development for Toronto Metropolitan University. She is also co-founder of Recast Philanthropy, an initiative to transform philanthropy and the nonprofit sector to be more equitable and anti-oppressive. “At the board level, our focus is on creating a welcoming board where all members belong and can fully participate,” Rumble shared. “Our meeting agendas consistently include relationship building and learning together and we provide numerous opportunities for feedback and improvements.”

A key pillar

Since AFP Canada began operations, IDEA has been a key pillar in its strategic plan. It guides workplans, volunteer recruitment and how AFP Canada works.

During the pandemic AFP Canada advocated for an equitable recovery for the charitable sector. We supported the proposed increase to the minimum disbursement quota and encouraged more funding be given to charities that have systemically been excluded in the past.

“AFP Canada has also focused a tremendous amount of its IDEA work on Truth and Reconciliation,” said Johnstone. “It is a part of our anti-racist, anti-colonial practice and aspiration.”

In 2021, as a joint initiative of AFP Canada and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy - Canada, an action identification working group on Truth and Reconciliation was created. Among its activities, it took stock of the work currently underway in the sector on Indigenous issues and consulted with

Indigenous leaders to identify meaningful actions that AFP could take on Truth and Reconciliation. In addition to publishing articles and sharing learnings from this work, AFP Canada developed a national territorial acknowledgement as an one of its actions.

In 2022, AFP Canada engaged an external expert to review the Narrative for Canadian Fundraising through a decolonizing and social justice lens which resulted in a revised edition being published. Since that time, AFP Canada has, and continues to offer training on the Narrative to AFP leaders sharing the learnings from this review.

In response to the anti-Black racism experienced by Nneka Allen, Mide Akerewusi and Múthoní Karíukí at the Greater Toronto chapter, the AFP Canada board immediately reviewed and responded to lessons learned and recommended changes embodied in Nneka Allen’s lecture “Us and Them: What it Really Means to Belong” and the two-part podcast by AgentsC “Boards and Black Tokenism: What it Really Means to Belong.

These lessons prompted a number of actions at AFP Canada. Planning for the 2023 annual leadership retreat was significantly changed, including sourcing and offering a free online anti-racism awareness course, providing a dedicated, private space for BIPOC attendees, and adding a 75-minute IDEA session.

In the spring of 2023, the board passed a motion requiring new AFP Canada board members to take an online anti-racism awareness course, that came into effect in 2024. Further changes were made to build relationships and offer space for board members to share what they are learning and unlearning.

"We are committed to looking for opportunities to build on this work,” said Rea Ganesh, chair-elect of AFP Canada. “New IDEA-related workplan priorities for 2024 include creating an IDEA media brief, reviewing the AFP Canada's IDEA policy, and determining a framework to embed IDEA into the overall governance of AFP Canada.”

“We are excited to be supporting a new career-track training for Indigenous fundraisers which has already seen its first cohort of graduates,” explained Ganesh. “This, along with our priority to research, compile and to share resources on Truth and Reconciliation will enable us to take additional meaningful actions.”

The next major undertaking, which is currently underway, is an independent IDEA and anti-racism audit of AFP Canada and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada the outcome of which will be further recommendations for change. The results of this work will be shared in service to our commitments to transparency and accountability.

AFP Canada was created to bring a Canadian perspective to AFP’s government relations and communications as well as to focus on priorities such as Truth and Reconciliation. “Through this important work on behalf of members in Canada, and in keeping with our commitment to being more constructive than performative, AFP Canada has undertaken policy development, numerous activities, and programs to enact our commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and access as well as anti-racism,” shared Johnstone.

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