2021 AFP Nova Scotia Professional Awards

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Fundraising Innovation
This award recognizes an organization, an individual or a group that has developed inventive campaigns, initiatives, project, or techniques that have grown and/or improved fundraising infrastructure, programs, and/or results while keeping the AFP's goals of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility top of mind.

Winner: West Nova Fuels Curl for a Cause Organizing Committee


What drew you to philanthropy?
I’ve always thought it is everyone’s responsibility to give back. Joining the board of the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore allows me to give the gift of enhanced health care back to my friends, family and neighbours.

How did you celebrate winning an AFP Nova Scotia Professional Award?
Virtual celebrations are hard but I joined my fellow West Nova Fuels Curl for a Cause Committee Members in spreading the good news. I also ‘cheers’ with a cup of tea.

As we all look forward to recovering from the pandemic, what are your hopes for the future?
I look forward to more people recognizing other people’s efforts in managing the pandemic and health care in general, in hopes that people are inspired to give back, as so many did over these past couple of years.

Answers provided by Nick Saunders, Vice-Chair of the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore Board and West Nova Fuels Curl for a Cause Committee Member


Partner of the Year
This award recognizes the power of partnership in advancing the fundraising sector. It is awarded to a business or corporation that has provided support through the contribution of financial, human, and other resources and is a strictly philanthropic relationship, i.e. the partnership is much deeper than simply sponsorship alone.

Winner: Mitch and Matt Benvie, Evolve Fitness


What drew you to philanthropy?
We are drawn to philanthropy from a desire to pay it forward for all of the amazing teachers and coaches we had growing up who did so much for us and asked for nothing in return.  And also because we have so much respect for our clients and peers who are leading by example in giving back.  Notably Luke MacDonald of Aerobics First.

How did you celebrate winning an AFP Nova Scotia Professional Award?
Being in lockdown, we aren't able to have a party ;)  But we made a social media announcement and recognized everyone who is a part of what we are able to do at Evolve with our efforts because it isn't just us.  We don't get to give back without our team and community.

As we all look forward to recovering from the pandemic, what are your hopes for the future?
My hopes for the future involve helping as many people as possible feel their best with their health and get all the benefits that come with that. I hope our organization makes a big impact in the community and is able to be a part of creating change, specifically in regard to social justice issues.


Above and Beyond
This award recognizes a fundraising professional who demonstrates outstanding commitment to their community through the development of charitable programs, volunteering, community leadership, and/or mentorship in philanthropic activities in their own organizations, as well as the community at large.

Winner: Liz Struijf-Mandishora

What drew you to philanthropy?
I grew up in Zimbabwe  and in our culture community  has always  been an integral part of everything  we do and therefore  who we are. Success was determined by the  extent to which every member  of the community was able to thrive and  have a sense of contribution for the good of all. My mother was always  a role model for me as she  was always involved in initiatives to support children , create community gardens and centers where  people came for different services. I guess looking  back, philanthropy was always a part of my life.  We just didn’t have that specific word for it. Since then I have always looked for ways to make  some kind of meaningful contribution  no matter where I go.

How did you celebrate winning an AFP Nova Scotia Professional Award?
I celebrated with the amazing team I work with at United Way-  In a way even though the award has my name on it, it is really a recognition of the people I am surrounded by who are supportive of me.

As we all look forward to recovering from the pandemic, what are your hopes for the future?
It's been quite a year and  a half and a lot of people have really struggled through the pandemic, especially those that were most vulnerable. My hope is that as we start to recover, we remember to take those most affected along in the recovery process and remember that  for them it might be a longer journey of recovery. On a personal note I hope to see travel happen again.


Professional Fundraiser
This award recognizes an outstanding fundraising professional who practices their profession in an exemplary manner, either as a non-profit employee or as a consultant. Any nominee must have a minimum of five years’ experience.

Winner: Kathleen Provost


What drew you to philanthropy?
Volunteering was a way of life in our family and I realized early in life that giving of yourself, helping and making a difference in the lives of people was very rewarding. Imagine how happy I was when I realized that I could work for an organization, or a charity and execute work that had the same impact – except I was being paid for doing this work. Finding a project or cause of interest and looking for means to make it happen successfully. Everybody wins. And without sharing my age, I was so happy to discover that there was a science to this work – fundraising had strategies, measurable performance indicators and I had the privilege to work in this growing field while still having an impact in the lives of individuals around me.

How did you celebrate winning an AFP Nova Scotia Professional Award?
I was actually in my home office, participating in the MFC online and my husband joined me for the announcement! I was so proud, I shared the news with my “not too young” children (Louis 26 yr – Samantha 23yr) and I sent a few thank you emails: to the Committee Chair, to the person who nominated me; to my mentee who inspires me. I was really appreciative of being recognized by my peers – I still feel very grateful for this recognition. Everything I do, I have learnt from and with my peers. Thank you

As we all look forward to recovering from the pandemic, what are your hopes for the future?
I think the pandemic is a silver lining for all of us. We get the chance of a lifetime to reboot. We can, and we should question why we do things; why they are important; and have meaningful conversations with everyone we interact – because we have learnt now how much people matter to us. We have learnt from self-isolating – that people matter and our well-being depends on it – our success depends on it. So my hope is that we remember  how “the entire world froze for a number of months” and remember that we are one planet. At the same time, my hope is that and learn from a global pandemic and continue to be kind to our neighbours; be concern for our own well-being as well as other’s well-being. My hope is that we all become a little bit of a better human being and appreciate what we have – now that we tasted not having it.


Rising Star
This award recognizes a fundraising professional whose early success bodes well for future leadership and achievement in the profession. The nominee must have worked in the fundraising profession for less than five years.

Winner: Whitney MacLean

What drew you to philanthropy?
I have always been passionate about helping my community and I love working with people, I knew that I wanted a career that blended those qualities so when I discovered the world of fundraising and philanthropy I knew it would be a great fit.  I’m thankful every day that I found a sector that is so welcoming and supportive and does such life-changing work.

How did you celebrate winning an AFP Nova Scotia Professional Award?
Celebrations for every one have looked a bit different the past two years and I was no exception. I’m lucky to have a very supportive group of family, friends and colleagues who made receiving the award feel so special despite not being able to physically get together to celebrate. Celebrations included many video chats and kind messages!

As we all look forward to recovering from the pandemic, what are your hopes for the future?
My  hope for the future is that we all take advantage of every opportunity to spend time with family and friends. I so look forward to connecting with people in-person again, the pandemic made it clear that there is nothing quite like a face-to-face connection and we all have a lot of missed time to make up for.


If you have any questions related to the awards or nomination process, please contact the Awards Chair, Chris Steeves at chris@rmhcatlantic.ca 


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AFP Nova Scotia would like to recognize our outstanding recipients of our past Maritime Philanthropy Awards:

AFP Nova Scotia Maritime Philanthropy Award Honour Roll