David Palmer, U of T's vice-president (advancement) speaks during the launch of U of T's historic $2-billion fundraising campaign. (Photo by Rick Chard)

Vice-president honoured for leadership in philanthropy

Palmer named year’s outstanding fundraising professional

David Palmer, the University of Toronto’s vice-president (advancement), has always had big ideas about the role U of T has to play in advancing Canada’s economic and social agenda.  Recently, those big ideas landed him a very big honour.

Palmer’s leadership in philanthropy has been recognized by the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), an international organization, with its Outstanding Fundraising Professional for 2011 award.

The AFP has honoured leadership in philanthropy through its annual awards program since 1995 and Palmer joins a long list of generous Canadians so honoured.  The award celebrates the outstanding contribution of time, leadership and financial support of a special group of Canadians who set new benchmarks of excellence in the acts of giving and volunteering.  At the recent awards ceremony, Palmer attributed his success at U of T to teamwork.

“The success we’ve had here is really the product of so many wonderful and talented people,” said Palmer. “Visionary institutional leaders, alumni and volunteers across the world, and above all, our generous benefactors whose selfless dedication and generosity has transformed this wonderful institution.”

Known for his strategic, principled, and inclusive approach, Palmer has served with highly effective and talented advancement teams that have helped redefine the fundraising potential for several charitable sectors, including cultural institutions, and university-wide campaigns.  Since September 2007, he has served as vice-president (advancement) for U of T, with a mandate to build institutional capacity and engage the university’s 500,000 graduates in 174 countries.

“The universities are complicated places and big universities like the University of Toronto are really complicated: three campuses, lots of divisions,” said President David Naylor. “David Palmer has done a brilliant job in bringing out the best in everybody: connecting to all the divisions, bringing everybody together, making sure academic priorities are front and centre. He’s a principled, inclusive guy and a very deserving recipient.”

From 1999 to 2007, Palmer was president and executive director of the ROM Foundation (now known as the Royal Ontario Museum Board of Governors) where he spearheaded the Renaissance ROM campaign, a transformational campaign that re-defined the museum’s financial resource base, its public brand, and its position as a major international cultural destination. Prior to his work at the ROM, David led a ground-breaking campaign for the University of Western Ontario’s School of Business Administration that resulted in the school being renamed the Richard Ivey School of Business, ushering in a new era in fundraising at professional faculties in Canadian universities.

Palmer was nominated for this award by a committee of his peers and accepted it on behalf of the teams with whom he has served.


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