Sessions & Presenters

The Four Pillars of Donor Relations

Lynne Wester - Donor Relations Guru.

We will walk you through the four pillars of donor relations, outlining what you could have, should have and MUST have in each area to ensure your program is superior and effective. This interactive session will help you fill in any holes you might have in your program, and give you some ideas on how to enhance what you already have. A great companion to the book The Four Pillars of Donor Relations


Moving Beyond Fundraising to Forge Strong Partnerships

Tim Cormode - Executive Director and Founder, Power To Be.

Philanthropy is transforming, as interest grows in forging partnerships with meaning beyond simple financial support. As the Executive Director of Power To Be, Tim Cormode has spent the last 20 years building dynamic partnerships for the organization. Learn about Tim's background in philanthropy and what he sees on the horizon. Discover how he listens for opportunities and builds meaningful connections to keep moving forward in a positive way. Gain insights into how Power To Be stays true to its mandate of offering inclusive adventures while partnering with other organizations for greater social good.

About Power To Be

Based in Victoria and Vancouver, Power To Be is a non-profit organization that empowers people living with a barrier or disability to explore their limitless abilities through inclusive adventures rooted in nature. With more than80 community partners, we are collectively supporting change in our communities.


How UTS brought staff giving from 33% to 100% in 28 days!

Martha Drake - CFRE, Executive Director, Advancement, University of Toronto.

In September 2017, University of Toronto Schools (UTS) officially launched its $60M Building the Future campaign. We knew that in order to be successful, we needed to show support from the inner circle: the staff. Traditionally, the participation of staff giving was low; the most successful year engaged 33% of the staff as donors. In this session, Martha will share the tips and strategies behind how, in 28 days, UTS increased the participation of the staff giving from 33% to 100%.

Learning Objectives :

  • Strategies to encourage participation by staff as donors
  • Tools to support the strategies that you can use in your shop
  • Recognition strategies and ideas to maintain the support for the future

Shape a Culture of Storytelling

Jennifer J. Pawluk -Communications Specialist, Balmoral Hall.

Fostering mutual understanding, trust, and support amongst its donors is one of the greatest challenges of an independent school today. Of course, this is nothing new. Yet, the difference now is advancement professionals have a greater stake in reputation management than ever before. Your voice, in amplifying that of everyone around you, matters. Developing strategies in community relations is meaningful work. Storytelling, in particular, is the most effective strategy I have developed in my work as a communications specialist at Balmoral Hall School. With a culture of storytelling, we evolved from sharing information to sharing insights, strategically; engagement has increased, as evidenced by our successes with various advancement and alumnae relations initiatives. I believe that if you seek inspiration anywhere, then you will find it everywhere. This is why I lead by training, advising, and guiding stakeholders in their storytelling efforts. I empower them to tell their stories. In the words of Dale Carnegie: "To be interesting, be interested." So, let's do it together.

Learning Objectives :

  • Discover strategic communication strategies to shape a culture of storytelling
  • Practise telling your stories in a collaborative learning environment
  • Brainstorm tactics to guide storytelling at your independent school

80-20 Rules: Prioritizing with Clarity

Angela Dudek - Executive Director for Advancement, St. John's School.

Ben Fitch - Director of Advancement, Little Flower Academy.

The advancement portfolio is wide and deep; distractions are endless and interruptions are constant. The most effective way to focus your resources is applying the 80-20 rule. Considering donors, alumni and volunteers; appeals, asks and stewardship; time, budget and personnel all against this lens will change the way you structure your program. Consider a fresh way to allocate your resources to maximize engagement and secure gifts. Make the 20 percent your priority.

Learning Objectives :

  • Learn to look at your appeal more critically. Are you sending out generic asks to the masses when you should be identifying key individuals to connect with personally?
  • Allocate your time more effectively. Are you getting distracted by minor issues that take a lot of time but make little difference to deliverables?
  • Confidently proceed with important initiatives. Do you fear offending prospects?

Panel Discussion:

Exploring different capital campaign funding models

Greg Reid - Executive Director of Advancement and President of the SAC Foundation, St. Andrew's College.

For decades, capital campaign past practice has been to raise all funds philanthropically for any significant capital projects, typically going public at 60% and shovel in the ground at 80%. Today, with growing demand for capital expansion and increasing donor fatigue, many schools are exploring different funding models to achieve their goals.

Learning Objectives :

  • Learn about different capital campaign funding models
  • Learn the pros and cons of different models based on individual school variables
  • Learn how Advancement, Head of School and the Board of Governors work together in the decision making process

Tim Cormode, Executive Director and Founder of Power To Be

Tim wants to leave this world in a better place for his family and the many generations that will follow. He strives to be a difference maker, inspiring others to make a difference in the community causes they care about.

In 1996, Tim participated in a three-month outdoor leadership program at Yamnuska Mountaineering School, located in Canmore Alberta, where the inspiration for Power To Be was born: Help youth and families living with barriers climb their own mountains. Tim now leads this organization that lives by its values, inspires philanthropy, and strives to have real impact in the communities in which Power To Be operates.

Tim is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, and now resides on the outskirts of Victoria in Metchsoin.


Martha Drake, CFRE, Executive Director, Advancement, University of Toronto

Martha Drake is Executive Director, Advancement at University of Toronto Schools (UTS) where she leads fundraising, community relations and strategic communications for the school. Martha has 28 years’ experience in the field of educational advancement. She joined UTS after 16 years at Victoria University in the University of Toronto, where she was Associate Director, Advancement. Martha is a mentor with the Association of Fundraising Professionals and received the Canadian Association of Gift Planners Sweatman Award for her outstanding contribution to gift planning.


Angela Dudek, Executive Director for Advancement, St. John's School

Angela launched the advancement program at St. John’s School in 2008. St. John’s has since completed two capital campaigns in addition to establishing Annual Giving, starting an endowment fund, and creating a strong volunteer framework. Advancement at St. John’s includes fundraising, communications, marketing and community relations – both local and international families. Angela was previously the Director of Advancement at Queen Anne’s School, a girls’ boarding and day school in Reading, UK; the Director of Advancement at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School in Alberta; and worked in External Relations at the University of Southampton, UK.


Ben Fitch, Director of Advancement, Little Flower Academy

Ben was the inaugural Director and started the advancement program at LFA in 2008. Still very much a “small shop”, the office handles school fundraising, alumnae relations, communications and marketing. Over the past decade, giving has grown ten-fold and significant capital projects have been realized as a fantastic culture of giving has taken hold at the school.

Previous to starting at LFA, Ben was the Head of Alumni Relations at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. There, he oversaw alumni annual fund calling campaigns, national and regional programming, national business partnerships, as well as all alumni communications. He started his career in fundraising with the United Way of Calgary and Area.


Jennifer J. Pawluk, Communications Specialist, Balmoral Hall

As an Honours English student at University of Winnipeg, Jennifer J. Pawluk realized that telling true stories was to be her life’s work, and so she pursued post-baccalaureate studies in journalism. On her convocation from University of King’s College, she returned home to rural Manitoba to become a community news reporter, photographer, and editor. Eventually, she pivoted to public relations, assuming the role of a communications specialist at a girls’ school in Winnipeg six years ago. At Balmoral Hall, she collaborates with students, staff, parents, alumnae, and friends to shape a culture of storytelling. Education is a cause she supports wholeheartedly. View her portfolio online at http://jjpawluk.space/ .


Greg Reid, Executive Director of Advancement and President of the SAC Foundation, St. Andrew's College

Greg Reid grew up in Kingston, Ontario, where he worked his way through six years at Queen's University as a member of the Canadian Forces infantry reserves. He earned BA, B.P.H.E. (Hons.) and B.Ed. degrees from Queen’s University, as well as completing an M.Ed. degree in Educational Administration at OISE, University of Toronto. Greg is also a graduate of the CAIS Leadership Institute, completed the CAIS Next Steps Diploma program in Advanced Leadership, and holds the professional designation of Certified Athletic Administrator (CAA).

Greg moved to Newmarket in 1990 where he taught for ten years in the York Region District School Board, finishing as the Head of Physical & Health Education at King City SS. He joined the faculty of St. Andrew's College in 2000 as Director of Athletics. He was promoted to Assistant Headmaster, School Life and Operations, in September 2012, where his responsibilities included overseeing all aspects of student life, leadership, and discipline. In June of 2018, Greg transitioned to the role of Executive Director of Advancement and President of the SAC Foundation.


Lynne Wester, Donor Relations Guru Group

Lynne Wester strongly believes that donor relations is the key to unlocking fundraising success, and that organizations must be as dedicated to the donor experience, or DX, as they are to the ask itself. Sometimes referred to as the Olivia Pope of fundraising, Lynne helps organizations when they need it most: when crisis or opportunity arrives.

Lynne and her teammates at the Donor Relations Guru Group partner with non-profits large and small on a variety of initiatives, from developing sound strategy and vision to using technology and creating meaningful donor engagement; all designed to positively affect the fundraising bottom line. Her guidance has led her clients to be recognized on the national stage for fundraising innovation, creative communication and ground-breaking donor relations work.

Lynne received her B.A. from the University of South Carolina, holds a Master’s in Strategic Fundraising and Philanthropy from BayPath University, and proudly sports a DUCKtorate from the Disney Institute.


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