Fundraising with Joy Interview Series – Sylvie Labrosse

Sylvie Labrosse, Manager, Fundraising, Community Living Toronto

Sylvie headshotSylvie and I met at the AFP Congress in Toronto last November. That is when I met her in real life, but I had been following her on Twitter for quite a while. Sylvie has an amazing online presence and clearly she loves to connect with others. It is always inspiring to meet fundraisers who are truly dedicated to the profession and its growth. Who love spending time sharing their knowledge and continuing to learn from others. In Sylvie, I see a generosity and also a wonderful curiosity.

Check Sylvie out on Twitter @SylvieinToronto

Janice: What made you choose a career in the social profit sector?

Sylvie: Like many fundraisers – I fell into it. With my educational background in convention and events management, I fell naturally into the world of fundraising events which included volunteer engagement. That’s where I discovered the joy of working with groups of people with a common goal to help make a difference. So perhaps it chose me rather than the opposite – and I decided to stay.

Janice: What does philanthropy mean to you? Has your definition changed over time?

Sylvie: Ask three different people this question and you’ll get three different answers. To me philanthropy is about giving – giving of yourself, your time, your money or all of the above. Yes, my definition has definitely changed over time. I believe this has also changed in our sector. At one time it was all about the money so that we could do more and help more people. It’s still about helping more people and while we do need money to do that, we have started to shift to more of a holistic approach that further engages our donors, volunteers, stakeholders, supporters, etc.….

I recently saw a quote that spoke to me –
“At the end of our lives we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received or how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by: I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.” Mother Theresa

To me, that’s what overall philanthropy is about – giving of yourself

Janice: How does your organization’s mission connect to your personal values?

Sylvie: Community Living Toronto helps supports choice and inclusion for people with an intellectual disability in all facets of their lives. I believe that no one person should be left behind because of who they are whether they are able bodied or not. Everyone has ability in one form or another. It is our responsibility as a society to work within that ability and support each other with our choices.

Janice: What brings you the most joy in your work?

Sylvie: I’m lucky that each and every day I have the opportunity to meet and chat with the many people we support that come into our building. I can see first-hand how the work I do ultimately has an impact on their lives. And, when I’m really having one of those “what am I doing here moment” all I have to do is pick up the phone and talk to any of our front line workers. I can help to make long term impact through my fundraising efforts – they make a direct impact every day through their work with individuals and the families that are in service with our organization.

Janice: Your job focuses on cultivating relationships and supporting others, what do you do to recharge your batteries?

Sylvie: Family, friends, reading are typical re-chargers in my day to day life but when I need to re-charge my professional life I seek out opportunities to connect with colleagues. Social media has been a great tool to do that and I been able to expand my professional network and meet people that I wouldn’t have reached out to in the past. My professional network helps keep me grounded. They are great for problem solving, to throw out ideas to and they help remind me why I do what I do, even when there might be shifts in my journey.

Janice: Research shows that philanthropy and volunteerism are proven ways to increase happiness. How have you experienced this in your work and life?

Sylvie: Helping people makes me happy. Overall yes, I’d say that the research bears truth and that I’ve experienced this in all areas of my life. At work this may come in the form of a thank you note from a beneficiary that I can then share with a donor or even a call from a donor who thanks me for taking care of a concern. The best is when a person in support drops in for a chat because we’ve gotten to know each since he received funding from one of our donor funded programs to attend summer camp.

Janice: Our work in the social profit sector allows us to make a contribution. What is the lasting impact you want to make during your career?

Sylvie: Had you asked me this question 5 or even 10 years ago, I would have said that I want to make a difference and that would have come with a dollar amount attached to it. Now, it’s not so much about the dollars. In my journey I want to know that I’ve helped build relationships through engagement. Through engagement with donors and volunteers that keeps them connected with the causes they support. Through engagement with colleagues and those just entering in the field as they continue to do their good work. Perhaps impact for me is not about the great sector, but more about impact to each individual I meet along the way.

© 2013, Janice Cunning. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this posting if you include my contact information. Please contact me if you wish to reprint any portion of it in any periodical or on a website

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About Janice Cunning

As a certified coach and fundraiser, I am passionate about partnering with people and teams to increase their personal and professional Joy Quota.

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