Upskill this winter with FIA core fundraising courses

Fundraising is the unsung hero of many non-profit organisations. Without effective fundraising, charities can’t deliver their programs and services. But with so many ‘falling into fundraising jobs,’ where do you go for ongoing development to learn the latest skills and techniques or find out more about ethical fundraising practice?

The certificate, which is offered in class or online, takes about six months to complete. Students cover every aspect of fundraising in considerable depth, and there are relevant, real-life case studies to learn from and opportunities to practise new skills through assignments.

“The Certificate in Professional Fundraising helps fundraisers become more confident and understand how to make a genuine difference to their organisation’s fundraising program. It’s designed for fundraisers who are responsible for the front-line implementation of fundraising activities, and who possess about one to three years paid or voluntary experience,” said Karen Mutch, FIA education manager.

Topics include the state of fundraising in Australia and motivations for giving; how to develop a realistic fundraising plan; creating the case for support; compelling storytelling; using online and offline channels for donor acquisition and relationship building; and maximising your effectiveness, personal brand and career prospects.

FIA is an excellent place to start. The Institute has a professional development program that is designed to help fundraisers hone their skills and advance their education in the art and skill of fundraising.

Connie Honaker decided to pursue the certificate as a means of strengthening her technical skills and thematic knowledge of the philanthropic field in Australia. She felt learning from FIA, the sector’s peak body, was the way to go.

Building technical fundraising skills: The Certificate in Professional Fundraising allowed Connie Honaker to transition to a fundraising role down under with Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand after leaving an international development role in New York. She is now applying her strengthened skills to various aspects of fundraising including bequests and major gifts.

“I had previously worked in international development at UNICEF in New York before moving to Australia, and I viewed the course as a great skill-builder that would assist me in transitioning to my role as a team leader in engagement and partnerships at Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand,” she explained.

“The Certificate in Professional Fundraising has provided me with a strong foundation to serve as a generalist in my role at Good Shepherd and allowed me to build key skills in the main areas where I’m now working – appeals, major donors, bequests and grants. I look forward to continuing to develop in this field and would recommend this course to others looking to enhance their fundraising skills,” she added.

The Diploma in Professional Fundraising, launched three years ago, is the pinnacle of the core education courses offered by FIA. Developed by experienced fundraisers working in the sector, the program, which is only offered online, is both rigorous and relevant. Fundraisers have 12 months to complete it.

“The Diploma in Professional Fundraising is ideal for those who want to progress up the career ladder quickly. It was designed to advance students’ fundraising and management skills and expand knowledge in all critical aspects of fundraising. Upon completion, graduates will be more confident fundraising leaders and equipped to manage the development and growth of charitable fundraising income,” said Karen Mutch.

Ideal for mid-level managers

The Diploma in Professional Fundraising contains elements of management and strategy and is directed at fundraisers whose roles are focused on those areas. It’s suggested students have a minimum of three years of fundraising experience, either in a paid or voluntary capacity, and some management experience before undertaking the course.

The course exposes students to the latest trends and topics and features new case studies from Australia and overseas to help fundraisers absorb the most modern thinking about fundraising and improve their overall practice.

The diploma comprises 10 core modules and two elective units. It examines fundraising strategy, ethics and legislation; marketing strategies for online/offline fundraising; strategies for major gifts, gifts in Wills, partnerships, trusts and foundations; how to lead and manage a high-performing fundraising team; and how to represent fundraising better to your board and management team

Students have access to two of Australia’s most experienced fundraisers for guidance and help while taking the course: Margaret Scott FFIA CFRE and Chris Benaud FFIA CFRE. Both have worked in the sector for nearly 30 years and bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the program.

“You will be expected to complete about 10-12 hours of study per week over the 12 months and finish several in-depth assignments along the way,” advised Karen Mutch.

Online diploma is convenient

Diploma is relevant: Ant Clark liked that he could complete the Diploma in Professional Fundraising online at his own pace while having regular access to a professional lecturer. He said the diploma refreshed his knowledge of fundamentals and is also helping him build a comprehensive digital and online strategy for TEAR Australia to reach new audiences.

Ant Clark, head of fundraising at TEAR Australia, took the diploma last year and found it worthwhile.

“I’d been in fundraising since 2004 and FIA’s training in the early years had been invaluable for someone new to the sector. In 2018 I figured it was time to intentionally revisit the broad spectrum of fundraising disciplines, which the Diploma in Professional Fundraising does. I know how critical it is to build a fundraising program that provides a seamless experience for supporters across channels,” he said.

Ant was attracted to the online aspect of the course where he could complete modules at his own speed and take advantage of access to a personal lecturer who would invest the time to critique his assessments professionally, providing him with additional relevant insights and knowledge.

“The diploma refreshed my knowledge of the fundamentals needed to engage supporters effectively, taking them on a journey that aligns with their own motivations to make a difference, and leave a legacy. The curriculum includes modules focused on digital and online fundraising, which is particularly useful in my role at TEAR Australia as we build a fundraising strategy that includes digital channels to reach new audiences and that complement offline touchpoints with existing supporters,” he said.

CFRE points

Both courses are approved by the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) to award continuing education credits of 59 and 180 points respectively towards the CFRE global designation.

Whenever he’s recruiting, Ant said he looks favourably on people who have taken the diploma.

“I’m a big fan of ongoing learning and professional development, especially in a discipline like fundraising, which is fairly complex and dynamic. Few roles in fundraising stay static these days, and if someone is looking to make a career in this space, I view professional development, such as the diploma, as highly desirable. Diploma students, having had exposure to the breadth of fundraising disciplines through the course, will be better placed to take an agile and evidenced-based approach in their next role,” he explained.

In addition to these core programs, FIA also offers a transition to fundraising course for corporate employees looking to enter the profession; a fundraising essentials course for juniors and those new to the sector, and a series of one-day courses in specific skill-building areas like copywriting, data analytics or major gifts. You can find further details of these programs in the professional development section of the FIA website.