CEO Update

At FIA, we know it’s late spring when we’re getting into serious conference and awards mode! Preparations are well underway for both events, and we’re getting a better idea of what our virtual conference might look like. On Friday, 6 November, my staff and I attended the TEDx Sydney event virtually for some fresh ideas and inspiration to guide our work and personal lives. We agreed: TEDx Sydney ran seamlessly.  

We’ve also heard about other virtual conferences that have gone smoothly for the most part. So, we have high hopes our own virtual conference will also work well for members. Fortunately, we will have the state hubs on the last day, so there will be some quality face-to-face time in a COVID-safe environment. Please have a look at what we’ve got planned for you on the conference website

In October, we ran a social media competition asking for fundraising best practice stories as part of our Ethics Month celebrations. The winner was Erin McCabe from Royal Flying Doctor’s Service, Queensland. You can read her post which talks about the FIA Code and vulnerable donors. Erin wins a $500 voucher for professional development from FIA. Congratulations, Erin!  

Our media release about the new FIA Code Practice Note for fundraising for and during national disasters sparked interest in the media. We timed its distribution for when the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements released their report on 30 October. 

FIA’s new guidance for members was first mentioned in an AAP newswire story about the report. Around 131 daily and weekly newspapers across the country picked up this story, including The Canberra Times and the Channel 7 website. The article noted that FIA was one of the first interested parties to respond to the report. It explained we were calling on members to be accountable to donors, honest and accurate in their fundraising communications, to be extra mindful of people in vulnerable circumstances and to report back promptly to donors on the impact of their donation. 

Over the last few weeks, I’ve given several radio interviews in New South Wales, South Australia and Canberra about the new guidance. To date, they’ve all been very positive experiences. 

On the national front, I was also delighted to participate in the regular roundtable segment on Radio National’s Sunday Extra program on 8 November. Joining me were the ACNC Commissioner, Dr Gary Johns, and GoFundMe’s regional manager, Nicola Britton. The theme was the future of fundraising. We talked about the Celeste Barber case and lessons to be drawn from that experience and fundraising harmonisation, among other things. When presenter Julian Morrow asked me why we didn’t support a national scheme for fundraising, I explained that we’re keenly aware the states would never repeal their own fundraising laws and that we were working with the Charities Minister and various state regulators to promote fundraising harmonisation instead. This method would reduce red tape and expense for fundraisers. You can listen to the roundtable in the link above (last half hour). 

Speaking of Nicola Britton, she’s our profile in this edition of our e-news, and I hope you enjoy reading about her. I was most intrigued to learn about GoFundMe’s growth in Australia and the trust and safety team who work around the clock to prevent scams. Charities are increasingly turning to reputable crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe as another channel to raise much-needed funds.  

It’s not always easy to front the media, but I believe it’s essential to be responsive. It allows me to explain the challenges that the sector faces and educate the public on things they may not understand such as why we can’t just hand out money raised immediately, that there must be due diligence. Doing interviews also builds awareness of the collective good work of our sector. I get the sense that the narrative on fundraising is beginning to change for the better, and I’ll keep on doing interviews long into the future.  

On a final note, the Commonwealth Attorney-General recently announced the start of a review of The Privacy Act 1988, examining several recommendations in the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry and more broadly whether the Act remains fit for purpose in the digital age. We will be preparing our submission, so if you’d like to contribute, please email Blake Tierney at btierney@fia.org.au this week.   

Katherine Raskob 
Chief Executive