40 Under 40

Soulafa Al-Abbasi

Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation
Canmore, AB

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

1. Soulafa raised the Canmore and Area Health Foundation’s profile within the community through radio take over days, increased coverage in the local newspapers, tripling social media followers on multiple channels, creating a new donor-friendly website and fun hospital signage, producing innovative videos and featuring heartfelt health care stories, and the creation of monthly and annual newsletters.

2. Soulafa, the foundation's sole employee, successfully raised over $154,000 through the 2018 direct mail campaign months, which was an increase of over $26,000 from the previous year and included a major gift from a donor base of less than 1,000 constituents.

3. She introduced a staff lottery as part of the employee giving program and saw revenue increase from $1,845.21 in year one to $12,957.45 in year three.

4. Soulafa has raised over $956,323 for the Feels Like Home Long Term Care campaign.

Q & A

1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?

Short answer: I got headhunted. Elaborate answer: I have been in the non-profit sector for the past eleven years, three-and-a-half of which have been in health care philanthropy. High impact positions have always attracted me. Running a hospital foundation is definitely one of them. It was a perfect example of what-you-seek-is-seeking-you career pathway. I have been loving every minute of being a citizen of the health care philanthropy world.

2. Why did you choose to make health care philanthropy your career?

The heart is at the center of a health care philanthropy system. Yes, people are incentivized to give for tax benefit reasons, but, most importantly, they give from the heart. A story has to touch your heart, resonate with it, move it, impact it, change it, expand it for you to give and share your wealth. This heart business touches everyone involved. We’re all better off after health care philanthropy takes place. A generous act that helps everyone in a community is what I’d like my career to revolve around. My mum always reminds me, so as long as people are in good health, that’s what matters most. Healthy communities, healthy individuals, is what health care philanthropy aspires for. I chose health care philanthropy because I love the story it tells and the impact it has on my heart and others.

3. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.

Every small or large donation I facilitate, or am part of, feels like a crucial step in my career journey. Each comes with a story that inspires and fuels me. I think a crucial step in my career journey was to learn to trust my gut and follow where it pulled me. Life has been moving forward ever since that leap-of-faith. 

4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?

Credit & Social Performance Officer, Aga Khan Foundation Canada, Fellowship in International Microfinance & Microenterprise. My master’s thesis was centered around what this fellowship has taught me. It was later published into a book – a learned treatise on micro-finance, institution-building and development. I have learned many things from that experience. I have also made long-lasting friendships that have helped me understand local settings and have opened my eyes to existing capacities. Working closely with local experts, valuing their input, and listening to their feedback was a very rewarding and humbling experience.  

5. What are your future aspirations?

I’d love to lead LARGE budget capital campaigns where I get to produce creative marketing and promotional materials that resonate with everyone. There is an art to story-telling and it is one that can change the health care world, one story at a time, one campaign at a time. I want to be a leader in that realm: to continue to raise the profile of meaningful causes and attract attention to what matters; to continue to be impactful, build capacity and strong partnerships in the health care philanthropy sector; to serve – and consult – where I am needed.
Soulafa Al-Abbasi

Fun Fact:

I have been featured on a highly visible billboard and at a number of museum exhibits across Canada.