10 Years in Review: The Story of How Globalfaces Grew into a top Fundraising Agency

Category: Announcements Strategies Team

In the beginning

Something very few people know is the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ Globalfaces came to be. It wasn’t for the usual reasons – money, freedom or guaranteed success. It was to ensure the people who chose to work with us always had a career path and a future. To let people know that there are places of work where the usual concerns of bureaucracy, hierarchy and politics would not slow down anyone’s career.

In terms of how Globalfaces came to be, well, it was the culmination of grit, determination, mistakes, victories, highs, lows, talent, luck, and a resolve to prove that a business can DO GOOD for the greater good.

And with that Globalfaces was founded.

How we started

Globalfaces was started quite literally out of the homes of the 4 founders. We had ourselves, our determination and our drive to make a difference, both in the workplace environment and in the world. And that was it.

Building the organization from the ground up was challenging. In the early days, it meant that everyone wore every hat. From infrastructure to finance and from human resources to the fundraisers, every element of the business was overseen and meticulously analyzed in order to propel us towards our ultimate goal. To be the biggest face-to-face fundraising organization in Canada within 5 years.

The company was incorporated on March 11, 2012. From there a tireless effort of business development ensued. That work paid off in the form of our very first client being active in Ontario, Canada in September 2012.

This followed quickly by 2 additional clients who operated in both Ontario and British Columbia. We were off to the races!

The business was beginning to grow!

Much of those early years remain a complete blur. Learning about client fiscals, PCI compliance, updates in technology, our competitors and dealing with Senior Executives all while building a fundraising force of 200 people across 3 provinces kept us very busy. While there were a number of challenges, we learned from our mistakes and continued to grow. That was the cycle in those early days. We never gave up.

Our first employee was onboarded in 2013. I am thankful to Scott Martin, Vice President of Sales Operations for sticking with us all of these years and helping steer the ship in terms of data and donor integrity! 

We quickly expanded our fundraiser footprint thanks to the incredible work of two of the founders, Nick Francis and Jordan Nott and as such, we needed space to put things! Our basements were running out of room!

Things like inventory, swag, tablet stock etc. were all becoming challenges and we realized an ‘office’ of some sort was necessary. We decided to go out on a limb and lease a 500sq foot facility in Whitby Ontario as our first official ‘Head Quarters’. After all, we had our eyes on that 5-year prize!

There were three small offices, a general meeting area and a spectacular kitchen – a side benefit of the unit previously being someone’s personal residence!

We held onto that tiny space for as long as we could but eventually, we outgrew it.

Investing in us

Up until this point, most of our infrastructure was outsourced. From the contact centre to IT, we used vendors to support us. However, as our client roster grew, our desire to customize increased and it was time to take a serious step in our companies’ development. Simply put, it was time to spend more money than we had and bring both Contact Centre and IT Infrastructure in-house.

Between 2015-2017 we were in build mode. Experimenting with solutions we knew nothing about, trying to become ‘subject matter experts’ all the while trying to grow our client and fundraiser base.

In Dec 2015 we brought the contact centre functionality in-house. What a project that was! Everything from cables to switches to figuring out what headsets to purchase. It makes me exhausted just thinking about it!

We brought our first client onto our propriety ‘Insight’ platform in January 2016 and migrated all remaining clients by May 2016. We were on our own! And it was exciting and scary simultaneously!

I would be remiss to not personally thank both Kenneth Liao, Vice President of Technology and Paul Baalu, our Director of Call Centre Operations at the time. These gents were brought in at this stage in our growth to build out our infrastructure and to this day, ensure our technology and telephony infrastructure remain nimble, adaptable and flexible to our clients ever-changing needs. Thank you, gentlemen.

Eventually, we moved to a proper commercial building in North Toronto, but our contact centre quickly outgrew that space, so we expanded and were running two locations up until 2019.

All grown up

Finally, we found a suitable space in North Toronto to house the entire business, and this is where we reside today. In a humble yet very functional 15,000sq ft facility where the entirety of the GFD team exists.

I have vivid memories of walking around the empty space and constantly thinking back to our basements and that 500sq ft unit we started from so many years ago. It is truly amazing how far we have come.

Nick, Jordan and I would walk the halls together knowing that although we now had plenty of space to work, our work had actually just begun. Now we had made commitments not just to ourselves, but to several hundred staff and a large handful of clients who were counting on us to be what we set out to be.

Fast forwarding to today – we are the largest face-to-face organization of our kind in Canada. Our reach is from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, and we currently work in 7 States with almost 1,000 fundraisers on the ground.

Our product-set has diversified to now include a suite of outbound call centre services, including legacy and lead generating capabilities. We offer donor stewardship, SMS and voice blasts. And we will continue to explore new opportunities and emerging technology that will serve our clients well into the future.

I have said this to countless people over the years, but when we started this company a decade ago, one thing I wanted was for my children to have an opportunity to work here if they so chose. We created this organization to be a place that people would want to work and a significant disruptor in this space – to provide our clients with a fresh view on how to run a fundraising organization. We are in it for the long haul.

Looking FOrward

We continue to invest in our infrastructure and most importantly our people. We have an incredible Senior Leadership Team in place and this team is preparing to take us to the next level. From HR, Marketing, Finance, Contact Centre, Field Sales, Business Development, Customer Success, Technology, Sales Operations, and our C-Suite – we have the team and talent in place to take us to the next level.  

We will continue to invest in technology such as AI to be able to better predict donor behaviour. We will continue to diversify our product portfolio in order to be able to fulfill more of our clients needs. We will continue to expand in the United States and our sights are certainly set on pushing the boundaries of our business to an international level.

As we hit certain milestones, we put more obstacles in front of our team. They continue to make us proud by rising to the occasion each and every time. We expect that over the next 3 years our business will continue to grow in size and scope. I look forward to the day that my children will be able to earn their way in the business which has evolved into something far beyond my wildest dreams.

Thank you to each and every fundraiser, employee, client and personal family members who have made so many sacrifices along the way to make Globalfaces what it is today. Let’s continue to fundraise for some of the world’s greatest charities and to what we set out to do 10 years ago: make the world a better place for everyone in it.