It’s membership renewal time at FIA, and in these challenging times, we could certainly use your support to continue our work.
Over the past two years, we’ve been lobbying for harmonisation of state-based fundraising regulation to reduce red tape, advocating for exemptions to the Do Not Call Register and mitigating the effects of the new Facebook fundraising tools, among many other initiatives. We’ve advanced the FIA Code to ensure our members adhere to ethical best practice so our sector can be sustainable. As well, our professional development, mentoring and networking programs are helping many of you to be the best fundraisers you can be.
Barber millions can’t be shared
Last week, the NSW Supreme Court ruled that the more than $51 million raised for the NSW Rural Fire Service during the devastating bushfire season of 2020 cannot be given to other charities or fire services in Australia. But the good news was Justice Michael Slattery determined it could be used to establish a fund for RFS firefighters who are injured or killed and for trauma counselling and training.
Comedian Celeste Barber, who led the social media appeal that won the hearts of Australians and people overseas, was disappointed. I think Celeste did a brilliant job in raising funds and no one should take that away from her.
Her case highlights issues around trusts and charitable purpose. Perhaps more people need to understand that charity money goes into trust funds for a good reason: to ensure it isn’t frittered away on things that don’t fit the purpose. The RFS has a narrowly defined trust fund where the money could only be used for particular purposes in NSW. Of course, the average citizen fundraiser might not know this, but this case may help those who wish to fundraise in future to consider the object of their fundraising carefully.
I’d also like to point out that there were so many charities, including some of our members, who raised millions of dollars that will still go to people, animals and the environment impacted by the bushfires. I believe the sector will work to get this right.
New Code complaints form/review coming up
I have two bits of news about the FIA Code. First, we’ve developed a new mechanism for recording complaints against members for Code breaches or unethical conduct. Our regulatory affairs team has created a new form which people can access on our website. After FIA staff investigate a complaint, it’s then sent to the FIA Code Authority for review and, if necessary, adjudication.
This year, we’re also conducting a review of the FIA Code. The Code has been operating since 2018, and while it works well, it’s a living document that must be examined every few years to ensure it remains relevant. Blake Tierney, our new executive manager of regulatory and public affairs, will conduct the review in consultation with the FIA Code Authority and with FIA members and stakeholders. I expect it will take about seven months to complete, and we’ll likely announce any changes by February 2021. Stay on the lookout in the coming weeks for information on how to provide your input and feedback.
Get a Zoom!
Closer to home, the FIA Essential Member Updates held throughout May, attracted 330 members across Australia. I hope you found them useful. This year we had to conduct them via Zoom, which I realise has its challenges, but hopefully, we will meet again for these updates in person in 2021.
For some extra stimulation, we organised panels in four cities to discuss the changing fundraising landscape and how fundraisers could rise to meet those challenges. A warm thank you to our panellists: Mel Yates, Dan Lalor, Paige Gibbs, Richenda Vermuelen, Alecia Hancock, John De Rango, Nicola Britton and Alison Covington. I’m also grateful to FIA Board directors Stephen Mally, Vicki Rasmussen, Alan White and Ben Cox for taking the time out of their busy schedules to host their state’s session. Thank you all.
FIA supports the road to reconciliation
Finally, this is National Reconciliation https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au/Week. Across the country, the fundraising community lives and works on land that tells the stories of thousands of generations of First Nation’s people.
This year, FIA will take steps to support the national reconciliation movement to promote stronger relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We plan to develop our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), to demonstrate our organisational commitment to cultural acceptance and understanding.
FIA will consult extensively with Reconciliation Australia on the RAP, which will be reflective in scope. This process will probably take a year and will help us to produce initiatives that are meaningful, mutually beneficial and sustainable. The RAP is part of a broader plan on inclusion and diversity in fundraising which we’re currently working on. We will keep you posted on our progress.