CEO Update

At the office, we are still talking about the energising days we spent at the annual FIA Conference in Melbourne last month. The quality of presentations from international and local speakers was incredibly high and covered topics and issues ranging from  revitalising fundraising events to how we can become more diverse and inclusive in fundraising practice.

The conference was a fantastic opportunity to connect with our members and I received so much positive feedback from many of you about the event. You should now find two surveys about the conference speakers and exhibition in your inbox. Please take a few minutes to give us your opinions on both so we can ensure the 2020 FIA Conference delivers on your expectations.

This was also my first fundraisers’ gala dinner. Congratulations to all the 2019 award winners, including the 2019 Arthur Venn Fundraiser of the Year, Meredith Dwyer FFIA CFRE from HomeMade Digital Australia; Fundraising Team of the Year Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation, and Young Fundraiser of the Year Alan White MFIA CFRE from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. These are well-deserved awards for people who have done so much to advance fundraising, find creative solutions to campaign challenges and promote best practice in Australia.

We also held our annual general meeting during the conference where Charlies Foundation for Research Executive Director Vicki Rasmussen FFIA CFRE (Western Australia) was appointed to our board of directors. She replaces Allan Godfrey EMFIA, CMO at Royal Life Saving (Western Australia), who has completed three terms of service. I thank Allan for his dedication and service to our board, the FIA Awards and the broader fundraising community.

Cheques still important to charities

Despite the high of a fantastic conference, there are still a number of key issues that are emerging and will affect fundraisers and their organisations. In late February, FIA made a robust submission defending cheques as a payment method, following moves from the financial services industry to phase out this essential donation channel within two years.

In our submission to the Australian Payments Council on the future of payment systems in Australia, we urged the banks and other financial services organisations to consult further with charities or risk serious harm to charitable giving.

Phasing out cheques puts millions of dollars’ worth of donations at risk, especially from older Australians who are so generous and often prefer to send cheques to their favourite causes.

Cheques remain an important avenue for giving within the charitable giving sector. In a member survey we conducted in February, 93.3 per cent of respondents said their charity would be detrimentally affected if cheques were no longer available as a payment method.

Meanwhile, FIA members have witnessed large spikes in donor attrition because of unanticipated changes by banks and credit card companies to their automated payment systems and terms of service. Such changes appear to have been implemented without regard for their impact on charities’ regular giving programs via ongoing credit card payments.

While the banking, credit and finance industries can be great investors in and supporters of the work of charities, there is great inconsistency in their approach to working with not-for-profits including issues around charity uniqueness, proprietary systems and fragmentation.

FIA is working with the Australian Payments Council to organise workshops in Sydney and Melbourne in April to enable members to provide additional feedback on this issue and to discuss ways of minimising the impacts of changes to payment systems. Members who wish to participate in the workshops should email members@fia.org.au

Finally, last Friday was International Women’s Day. To celebrate, we conducted Q and As with five fantastic female fundraisers in the lead up to and on 8 March. They were posted on our social media channels and will also appear in the coming months in The Member Bulletin. I hope you enjoy reading about their accomplishments.

Katherine Raskob

Chief Executive Officer