History of FIA

The earliest record of systematic fundraising in Australia is contained in the history of the Benevolent Society of NSW, Australia’s oldest charitable organisation, founded in 1813. The record shows that “organising secretaries” were employed in the mid 1870s to “organise the philanthropic instincts of the citizens of the colony of NSW”.

Modern fundraising has its origins in the ‘Wells Organisation’, established by Lewis G Wells and Ashley Hale. ‘Wells’ was predominantly a Church Fundraising program, originally based in the USA. The US company launched a Canadian company, which in turn launched the Australian Company in 1954. From there the Wells Organisation spread to South Africa, New Zealand and England.

The introduction of the Wells Organisation to Australia revolutionised fundraising in this country, particularly in relation to churches. It broke the ‘two bob-in-the-plate” mentality of donors and Wells became very successful. In 1956 there were about 25-30 employees in Melbourne and a similar number in Sydney.

The fundraising industry started to expand beyond the church field and, for example, raised funds for the Sovereign Hill in Central Victoria, and the Pharmaceutical College in Parkville Melbourne.

In its early days, fundraising was a demanding occupation. Employees were on the road most of the year, keeping them away from the distraction of home life and on the job 24 hours a day. Despite good remuneration, employees began leaving in the 1960s, some with the intention of establishing their own Fundraising consultancies. Others joined non-profit organisations.

Our Institute is Born

The Australasian Society of Fundraisers (ASF) was formed in 1968 at a meeting of a group of fundraisers in Melbourne. Over the next two years the constitution was revised, culminating in the birth of The Australasian Institute of Fundraising (TAIF) on 2nd September 1972.

Victoria was chartered in September 1972, with about 30 members. NSW was chartered about three months later, followed by Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, New Zealand, ACT and Tasmania. In 1989-90 the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand was established, splitting off from TAIF.

FIA Comes into Being

TAIF became incorporated in 1988 under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 and the name of the Institute was changed from TAIF to the Fundraising Institute-Australia Inc. at the Annual General Meeting of the Institute in October 1992. In June 1999, The Institute adopted a new constitution and became a Company Limited by Guarantee. Its Registered Office is in Chatswood, NSW. You can view this constitution here: FIA Constitution.

National Conferences Begin

TAIF began holding biennial national conferences in 1974 (Monash University), and now holds conventions annually.


The business and affairs of the Institute are managed by a Board of Directors comprising members elected from each of six states and the ACT. States with more than 150 members have an additional director.

A Professional Body

As a professional body recognised by Government and business alike, the Institute has adopted a mission which is aimed at Professional Development, Advocacy and Member Services.

The FIA assists its members in their professional efforts by:

  • providing a forum for discussion on common concerns
  • providing opportunities for continuing professional education
  • researching, developing and disseminating relevant information
  • representing the profession’s interests within the Government arena
  • fostering ethical standards for the management, direction and counselling for Fundraising programs


International Affiliations

TAIF soon became well known internationally among professional Fundraisers. In the late 1980s TAIF became a Foundation Member of the World Fundraising Council, which consisted mainly of national Fundraising bodies from the USA, Canada, France, England, Mexico, South Africa and Australia.

FIA now has a network of connections with fundraising organisations around the world including USA-based (AFP) Association for Fundraising Professionals, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), the UK based Institute of Fundraising; and with the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand (FINZ). FIA is also a Participating Organisation in CFRE International, an international body established to provide certification for fundraising professionals.

Our Members

The members of the FIA are men and women who are engaged substantially, if not wholly, in the profession of Fundraising, who have united for the benefit of their profession and for the good of those who serve the community at large. They share a common bond in their commitment to their profession and to philanthropy as a whole. For the most part, they work for and with, not-for-profit organisations within the charitable, medical, arts, educational, religious, community and welfare service as well as sporting and social fields. Some also serve within the profession as fundraising counsel providing fundraising services to these organisations.

Our members are bound by FIA’s Code and are required to pledge their commitment to observe and promote its objectives.

Membership of the FIA is recognised as an important indication of an individual’s career commitment to the field of fundraising and the ideals of philanthropy.