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The philanthropic fundraising consultant

Holly Wagg, MA 04
November 6, 2023
By Ursula Leonowicz, BA 97

Portrait of a smiling woman with dark brown, shoulder-length curly hair is wearing a dark green shirt.

Driven by a desire to create change, Holly Wagg has dedicated her career to helping charities meet their missions. Over the years, she has done everything from raising a new organization’s very first fundraised dollars to helping generate millions annually for Canadian charities.

In 2004, she and her wife, Julia Wagg, started a charity called the Ten Oaks Project that offered Canada’s first summer camp for 2SLGBTQ+ youth.

She has held various positions at charities such as ArtsSmarts, the YMCA of the National Capital Region, the Canadian AIDS Society and Girls Action Foundation

She became Partner and CEO of Good Works, a fundraising agency specializing in annual and legacy giving, in 2017. Today, she leads a team of 21 professional fundraisers to raise funds and create impact for crucial causes like health care, social justice, animal welfare and the environment. 

Cause closest to your heart

“I’ve been involved in the widowed community since Julia died from leukemia. Through Soaring Spirits Canada, we offer peer support and community connection for widowed people, most notably through an event called Camp Widow.”

Significant milestones

“My proudest moment has been growing into my own leadership. The book that I co-wrote with my two fellow Good Works business partners, You Can’t Take it With You: The Art and Science of Legacy Fundraising, is a major career accomplishment that’s helped to change the approach to legacy giving within the charitable sector.”

Career challenge

“I’m female, and I’ve always looked and sounded younger than my age. It’s meant I’ve had to work harder to persuade clients and colleagues to trust in my expertise – even when I’m one of the better-qualified people in the room.”

Influential Concordia professor

“I was hired as a research assistant for Yasmin Jiwani [professor of communication studies]. I learned so much about research and coding, but also about the various intersections of race and gender in Canada.”

Advice for tomorrow’s philanthropists

“There are so many ways that you can contribute to the fabric of society, whether through a not-for-profit, a charity or, more recently, a social enterprise. Pair your beliefs with your actions and make sure the organization is as good a fit for you as you are for them.” 

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