2022 Arthur Venn Lifetime Achievement Award: Roewen Wishart FFIA

It was a great delight to be recognised with the Arthur Venn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022. My delight is probably evident in the rather goofy smile on my face in a couple of the conference photographs. I felt particularly proud to receive this award on three counts.  

First, although I never met him, Arthur Venn played a prominent role in introducing professional fundraising  to Australia. A past winner was quoted saying of him:

“He felt strongly that the essence of fundraising sat with major gifts and capital campaigns because with those you are asking a person face to face to commit to a cause that’s meaningful to them.”

Naturally this rings true for me because these two areas of fundraising, along with gifts in wills, became my specialty quite early. However, I was intrigued to read that Arthur Venn also developed the idea for the MS Readathon (stimulated by what he saw in the USA in the late 1970’s), and was also one of the first fundraisers to use direct mail in Australia, organising the first past patient mailing for the Queen Victoria Medical Centre (now Monash Medical Centre). This reminds us that effective fundraisers need to understand and ideally have some experience in many different fundraising methods.

Secondly, this award is in part recognition for wider service in society of any kind, not just fundraising.  I’ve become a firm believer that good fundraisers can and should contribute beyond their paid work. This might be through advocacy, political participation, voluntary work in civil society organisations, and service as board members. I hope more fundraisers will think about serving on the boards of not-for-profits whose mission they feel committed to. For me these have been Diplomacy Training Program (affiliated with University of NSW and providing training to human rights activists from Asia and the Pacific), and more recently Conservation International Australia.

Finally, the award also recognises service to fundraising as a profession and to FIA as an organisation. For me I have learned a great deal and gained lots of experience from my FIA membership. I have been pleased to support FIA through state committee membership, championing of CFRE accreditation, the Include a Charity campaign, and the FIA Code Authority and its ethics predecessor.  Thanks to past not-for-profits where I’ve worked which encouraged and supported my time spent on all this, and to my fellow directors at Xponential who share the same commitment.

How could you serve through FIA? State committee membership, mentoring, completing your own then supporting others towards CFRE accreditation, task force work on diversity and inclusion, encouraging your team members to complete the FIA Code Course, encouraging colleagues and friends to submit high quality campaigns for FIA Awards – these are all possible for you.