This week we’re behind the scenes with Derek Fraser and Wayne Steer, the leaders behind #GivingTuesdayYYC in Calgary, Alberta in Canada. Here’s what they had to say about their experience so far championing the movement in Calgary.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Where are you from, and how did you get involved with the social good world?
Derek: I’m from St. Catharines, Ontario. Long ago I realized I had a personal calling to the nonprofit world instead of the business world. I got involved with AFP and we eventually began to run Calgary’s #GivingTuesday initiative. Wayne and I have large goals in terms of seeing this global day of giving grow. Since 2013, with Wayne’s assistance as chapter president for AFP in Calgary, we’ve been steadily growing #GivingTuesdayYYC.
Wayne: I’m originally from Saskatchewan, but I have lived the vast majority of my life in Calgary. I began my social good career thirty-two years ago as a volunteer fundraiser with the Canadian Progress Club – Calgary Bow River. After working in various businesses for 20 years, I came to a crossroad and reflected on what I enjoyed doing most. I realized my passion was helping people and doing this through sharing stories and inspiring people to invest in worthy causes. I started looking around and discovered AFP, joined and was soon hired as the Director of Development for the ALS Society of Alberta. For the past eight years I have been the Director of Development for Fresh Start Recovery Centre and currently sit on the AFP Canada Board as Secretary.
Q: What inspired you to get involved in #GivingTuesday?
Derek: I heard about #GivingTuesday through Lys Hugessen, who co-leads the national movement in Canada. We studied together years ago at Queen’s University. Seeing that Lys and John Hallward were so invested in this movement gave me the vote of confidence around both helping them and supporting an AFP-led initiative. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this machine and mechanism for philanthropy. AFP has done a great job championing the movement in Canada.
Wayne: Derek’s passion for the initiative really intrigued and inspired me and I wanted to help him make the #GivingTuesday launch in Calgary a success as it seemed like a good and worthy project.
Q: What has worked well for #GivingTuesday in Calgary so far?
Derek: We have been lucky to have a mayoral proclamation for the last 4 years from our mayor in Calgary!
Wayne: We’re fortunate that #GivingTuesday is 2 weeks after National Philanthropy Day, which has been a great platform for attracting attention and building momentum. Cenovus Energy in Calgary has been extremely generous by offering beautiful venues at no cost. Last year our event was held at the top of the tallest building in Calgary – The Bow. Earlier in 2017 some of the key players from GIV3 came to Calgary to visit and this provided extra visibility and awareness as several AFP members came out to get a more comprehensive introduction to exactly what #GivingTuesday is all about. Perhaps that’s why we had so many people come out at the Bow last year … in addition to the view!
Q: What challenges have you faced in getting #GivingTuesday in Calgary off the ground?
Derek: We’ve been working on an educational focus on getting organizations to understand how they can harness this activity in a way that benefits their communities. It’s important to invest in a #GivingTuesday strategy early enough in your planning cycle so that you’re not pulling it out of a hat on November 15th. Resources and staff constraints are of course a challenge for many nonprofits but it’s important to embed #GivingTuesday in your operational plans.
Q: What’s the potential or impact of the movement in Calgary?
Wayne: There is so much more opportunity to tap into corporations and foundations for support and participation so there’s room to create much more engagement and growth.
Q: What is one of your favourite #GivingTuesday stories?
Derek: The leadership at Cenovus has really helped us harness the local effort, because they’re able to offer us complimentary space and hospitality which really helps in getting people out to join the events. Also, the Mayor coming out and the leadership we have seen from the local council has been really encouraging.
Wayne: The former Calgary Police Chief did an #unselfie last year which made for some fun and great content in our community.
Q: What are you most looking forward to for #GivingTuesday 2018?
Derek: I’m looking forward to decentralizing and diversifying the responsibility a bit across sectors to enhance the movement.
Wayne: I’m hoping that we can generate greater buy-in from the larger nonprofits in the Calgary area and I’m looking forward to having some more advanced planning in place.
Q: One of the reasons the #GivingTuesday movement has been so successful globally is because of the vision and leadership of country and community leaders like you, who step up in the name of social good. What does leadership mean to you?
Derek: Leadership is about encouraging people to follow your lead, and it doesn’t happen overnight. What we’re working on is a slow build and then the wheel will ultimately start turning on its own. We’re fine-tuning and finding the right methodology as we go. We’re trying to challenge our Edmonton counterparts to a little friendly spirit of competition in the name of social good in our communities.
Wayne: Leadership is stepping up when nobody else does and being brave enough to try something new rather than relying on what has been tried and true. Innovation doesn’t come from doing the same old things the same old way.
Q: Do you have any advice for leaders thinking about starting a #GivingTuesday movement in their country or city?
Derek: Be patient. Don’t give up, and don’t let people who say it won’t work drag you down. If you believe it should happen and you have a vision and can see it happening, then keep at it.
Wayne: Don’t expect anything to happen overnight but do expect to be amazed.
Q: What is a quote by one of your favourite leaders? Or Who is someone you admire for their vision and leadership and why?
Derek: Dan Pollota has a great book called Uncharitable. He gives a great TED talk too, and he has really influenced my thinking about the systems we’ve been handed and how they handcuff us in terms of the success that we can have in creating change. I really like to try and think about how charities can take the cuffs off and turn the pendulum back successfully in their mandates in making the world a better place.
Wayne: One of my favourites is Winston Churchill when asked what the secret of success is: “Never, never, never give up.”