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.

The Institute is Established in 1972

The beginning of modern FIA began when the Australasian Society of Fundraisers (ASF) 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 2 September 1972.

Victoria was chartered in September 1972 with about 30 members. NSW was chartered about three months later following on from a group of fundraisers meeting in Wagga Wagga, NSW. That was 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 Evolves

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 the constitution here: FIA Constitution.

National Conferences Begin

TAIF began holding biennial national conferences in 1974 (Monash University), and FIA continues to hold national conferences annually.

Management and Governance

The business and affairs of the Institute are managed by a small team, led by Chief Executive Officer Katherine Raskob  (Katherine Raskob MIM, GAICD | LinkedIn). The FIA Board of Directors provides governance and oversight and is comprised of members elected from each of six states and the ACT along with three independent directors and a director representing the interests of organisational members.

A Professional Body

As a professional body recognised by Government and business alike, FIA’s mission is to advance professional, ethical, best-practice fundraising which engenders trust in the sector and ensures its sustainability into the future.

FIA assists its members in their professional efforts by:

  • advancing ethical best practice fundraising through the FIA Code
  • providing a forum for discussion on common concerns and sharing of knowledge and skills
  • providing opportunities for continuing professional education
  • researching, developing and disseminating relevant information
  • representing the profession’s interests with Federal and State Government

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 Chartered 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

Members of FIA are individuals and charitable organisations 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 suppliers providing fundraising services to these organisations.

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

Membership of FIA is recognised as an important indication of an individual’s career commitment and an organisation’s and supplier’s commitment to best-practice fundraising and the ideals of philanthropy.