Five minutes with … Rachel Murphy FIA Awards judge 2020

Ready for centre stage this February at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, the FIA Awards for Excellence in Fundraising have been rejuvenated for 2020 with new awards categories and more opportunities to win. Kim Carter speaks to Rachel Murphy, Kim Carter speaks to Rachel Murphy, director of community fundraising at National Heart Foundation of Australia, a FIA Awards Advisory Committee member and one of the judges in the new Impact on a Shoestring category, about the refreshed awards and why 2020 marks a significant change.

What do you find unique about the FIA National Awards for Excellence in Fundraising?

These awards recognise fundraising professionals for their impact on the sector. They are unique in that applications are judged for scientific and calculated spending to raise funds for essential programs that will impact the wider community. 

The awards are going into their 21st year. What’s changed in the sector over that time that demands a fresh approach? 

Wow, so much has changed during this time. We have new channels, new fundraising approaches and a very busy marketplace. 

What did you make of the new categories for 2020? Did it make a difference to the number and type of entries? What was the overall quality like of the campaigns?

The categories were changed to allow more charities to apply for more awards and the results were positive. In the new Impact on a Shoestring category, we had many entries from events to appeals and major gifts. It was refreshing and truly amazing to see the work that is going on in so many different organisations.

The biggest stand out to me was the quality of the applications. Applicants put in a lot of effort to analyse their events and respond to every question with such detail and thought. 

You judged in the Impact on a Shoestring category. Could you talk us through this new category you’ve introduced?

This category is for those small charity initiatives that have a big result. We’re talking about testing initiatives and small charity activities that make a big difference – a suitable category for community fundraising, event fundraising, digital-led efforts, individual giving and more. The only limitation was a maximum budget of $50,000. 

What were you looking for in the submissions? 

We were looking for creative, yet calculated thinking. Where decisions deliver results not from luck but science and fundraising expertise. The fundraising needed to align with the organisation’s strategic plan to create the impact required.

Were there any surprises or anything that struck you about this year’s entries? 

This year, we asked applicants to submit a video to complement their application. The videos were a new addition to the entry process. They brought the applications to life, and it was great to see and hear the passion in the applicants’ voices. The videos submitted complemented the written entries and were refreshing to view. 

Do you think the new less paperwork approach, video entries and free entry system made a difference? 

From a judge’s perspective, the new system was a dream. It was easy to see all of the applications, add notes and mark the papers accordingly. I hope it was a dream for applicants too.

I love that the awards were free to enter this year. I think that has had a positive result on the number of entries this year as well.

Do you often hear people say, ‘I’m not going to enter because I know I won’t win?’ What would you say to people about this? 

I haven’t heard that, but I think if you’re doing something right in your charity and helping them to raise a lot of money for a great cause, you should consider applying. It’s a great opportunity to show what your organisation is doing and attract more talented staff to the organisation as well.

What would be your three top tips for aspiring entrants in future?

A good post-campaign report will have all the details you need to complete your entry form, so make that your application bible.

Focus on results, what you have done to get them, and what you have decided to leave out due to budget, timing or staffing restraints.

Have some fun with your video – show your passion and enthusiasm for fundraising, your organisation and your campaign!

Any advice for future judges?

It was such an honour and privilege to judge the FIA Awards for Excellence this year. If you ever get the opportunity to be on a judging panel, do it. It was insightful and rewarding to see how much time fundraisers had invested in their applications and what they have been able to achieve.