Thursday 28 & Friday 29 March, 2019

Swissôtel Sydney, 68 Market Street, Sydney (above MYER)

Insight, best practice and inspiration to help you raise more from your fundraising events

Events are an important part of the fundraising program for many charity and nonprofit organisations and EventRaise is the only conference in Australia with a dedicated focus on fundraising events.

EventRaise is designed to help you know the key tactics, strategy and concepts to maximise revenue from your fundraising events.

A range of different events are covered including: online peer-to-peer, challenge events, community events, gala balls and more.

The conference is full of great case studies, ‘how-to’, thought leadership, practical tips and ideas and the presenters are some of the industry’s best and brightest events professionals.

Presented by:

Program Overview

Please note, this list of speakers and topics was correct at time of publication. Keep a look out on the website for further exciting speakers who may be added as they are confirmed. F&P reserves the right to alter the program without notice.


F&P acknowledges the support of and thanks the following sponsors:










Registration brochure

Program / agenda

Topics and Speakers

DAY ONE: Half-day Masterclass

Thursday 28 March (lunch 12noon - 1 pm)

Leveraging digital channels to maximise peer-to-peer event fundraising revenue

Luke Edwards was one of the early adopters of online peer-to-peer event fundraising in Australia and has built a track record of success across numerous events over more than a decade.

With his wealth of experience, Luke will share many ideas, tips, tactics and practical examples to help you maximise fundraising from your peer-to-peer fundraising events.

This half-day masterclass will include interactive sessions on:

  • How to use Facebook to increase donations, referrals and engagement
  • How to identify stories and create compelling content
  • Tips and techniques to improve personalisation across communications channels
  • How to change a simple journey into an unforgettable experience
  • How to use Facebook, email and SMS to deepen the connection with your cause and inspire support

With Facebook and email alone raising 85% of income and acquiring 90% of participants, you will learn proven strategies to generate more revenue from these core channels.

Working in groups, on your own and sometimes in pairs, you will learn how to identify key aspects of a compelling story, and how to drill down into the minute detail that will make your story stand out from the crowd.

You will come up with new ways to personalise your digital communications based on your own specific event data, and you will develop new ways to surprise and delight your event participants.

There are many opportunities to refine your use of digital channels to boost peer-to-peer event revenue, and Luke has done all the hard work in identifying, testing and tweaking them so you can take your event to new heights of online fundraising success.


Presenter: Luke Edwards, Director, Elevate Fundraising

Luke has more than 12 years’ experience in digital fundraising and is passionate about the use of digital marketing to acquire supporters and nurture and increase donor loyalty.

One of Luke’s specialist areas of expertise is online peer-to-peer event fundraising, and he has helped set record results for events such as Million Paws Walk, Cupcake Day, Coastrek, Brissie to the Bay, Walk for Autism, MyMarathon, JDRF One Walk, Bloody Long Walk and a range of others.

Luke also co-founded the Great Cycle Challenge. The event started in Australia and has spread its wings to Canada and the USA and has raised more $40 million over five years for childhood cancer research.

Luke’s agency Elevate Fundraising works with charities to raise funds, inspire action and empower people to make a positive impact in the world. His clients include The Smith Family, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Caritas, Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, RSPCA and more.



Friday 29 March, 9am to 5pm

DAY TWO: EventRaise Main Conference

From Sydney to the world – the rise and rise of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

From a standing start in 2013 in Sydney, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) has raised over $12 million in five short years and grown into a global fundraising phenomenon. Mark Hawwa will trace the journey and growth (and growing pains) of the event, along with the key factors for success and crucial learnings.

Come and ride as pillion passenger as Mark discusses how the event has used social media and other channels to expand participant numbers to over 100,000 riders in 101 countries; the key fundraising tactics and tweaks and the important engagement and communications activities to drive participant loyalty and retention. If you’re looking for some inspiration and insights into how to launch and build a successful fundraising event, then rev your engines and get set for some valuable learnings and practical tips and ideas.


Presenter: Mark Hawwa, Founder and Director, Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

A classic car and motorcycle enthusiast with experience in creating large scale events, business, marketing and everything in-between, Mark Hawwa is founder of the philanthropic events Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and Ride Sunday.



Crispy, crunchy, chewy and nutty – covering all bases with the Sydney Chocolate Ball

The success of the Sydney Chocolate Ball over nine years challenges the commonly held assumption that events can stretch an organisation to the max while delivering minimum ROI.

FSHD Global Research Foundation began in 2009 with a dream and a mission to raise $1 million every year for medical research. By refusing to cut corners and engaging only the best (from chef Luke Mangan, to MC Jamie Durie OAM, from Krug to Moët) Danielle Thomson and founding CEO Natalie Moss, produced an event that hits the sweet spot year after year.

Danielle will discuss the rationale and original concept for the ball; the key fundraising methods used (in 2018 the ball raised $1.2 million) and how these are performing; how the event is marketed to its target audience; how the ball is kept “fresh” each year and how the organisation attracts significant corporate sponsorship – all achieved on meagre resources.


Presenter: Danielle Thomson, Chief Executive Officer, FSHD Global Research Foundation

Danielle joined FSHD nine years ago as Director of Events and Fundraising, and in July 2018 she was appointed CEO of the organisation.

The Sydney Chocolate Ball is the Foundation’s annual fundraiser and was developed by Danielle with FSHD Managing Director Natalie Moss. The event raises over $1 million each year and is the main source of donated funds for the organisation, which was named Australian Charity of the Year at the 2017 Australian Charity Awards.

Prior to joining FSHD Global Research Foundation Danielle was an executive producer for corporate events for many years.



Events – always with us, always changing, but what’s the future

From the humble cake stall to the glittering gala, events have been a hugely important part of the fundraising mix since charities came into being. Many leaders in the profession cut their teeth on balls and golf days and are now running multi-million-dollar peer-to-peer initiatives, wielding the weapons provided by social media as if to the manor born.

Marcus Blease will turn his microscopic gaze on the event landscape – where events have come from in Australia, where they are now, and offer his thoughts and ideas on how they will change in the future.

He will also share some comparative stats on ROI as well as summarizing the risks and benefits of different event types, drawing on examples from across the English-speaking world.

If you are keen to understand the fundraising event terrain and what the future looks like for events, this is a presentation you won’t want to miss.


Presenter: Marcus Blease, Founder, Donor Republic

Marcus has more than 15 years’ fundraising experience and is one of the most progressive and impressive fundraising executives in Australia. He is constantly looking to trial innovations and improve fundraising practice and with his strong direct marketing background he is very numbers focused and evidence-based in developing fundraising strategy and programs.

He spent a number of years at Cancer Council (NSW & QLD) where he was variously involved in events marketing and headed up fundraising and marketing. Then followed seven years as the General Manager of Fundraising & Marketing at Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) where he led a team to double fundraising revenue to $30 million annually. One of his key achievements at CPA was the launching of a new fundraising event called Steptember which has gone on to become a global event and is raising many millions of dollars a year.



Gamers in the charity realm – an emerging fundraising opportunity

Traditional fundraising events face more growth challenges than ever before. As a result, it’s important for charities to invest in new and innovative ways to fundraise and reach new audiences.

Enter: Gaming for good!

Amazingly, across the world, more people are interested in watching other people play games than binge-watching Game of Thrones. In the last few years, computer video gaming has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, with an estimated 1.5 billion active gamers worldwide.

In a newer development, across the world as well as here in Australia, charities like Beyond Blue, Starlight Children’s Foundation and Hutt Street Centre have been raising new and unexpected revenue through gaming charity events. Come delve into the world of online video gaming and hear how you can leverage this emerging fundraising opportunity.


Presenter: Tara Gosling, PR and Content Coordinator, Blackbaud (JustGiving)

Tara’s career in marketing, PR and events included roles at Crosstown Artists and QML Pathology before joining Blackbaud in her current position.

Tara now enjoys working with digital content creators across social media, YouTube and Twitch to create fundraising campaigns that unite online communities and inspire social change.



Employing Memorable Moment Theory to make better events

Want to create powerful and inspiring moments that will transform the experience of your event participants and supporters?

Drawing on the work of Professors Chip and Dan Heath and other leading behavioural psychologists, Ration Challenge Founder Karen McGrath, will explore how you can create ‘defining moments’ of insight, elevation, pride and connection in your supporter journeys.

These in turn drive supporter acquisition, engagement, value and loyalty, and most importantly put your supporters at the heart of your work.

Using case studies from the nonprofit sector as well as organisations around the world leading the customer experience sector, this session will leave you with the theoretical framework and practical steps for making the time and space for creating these moments with intention and how to plan and execute them in the context of your fundraising events.


Presenter: Karen McGrath, Global Marketing Manager, Act for Peace

Having founded the Ration Challenge for Act for Peace in her first year out of university, Karen McGrath has overseen its growth into Australian schools and international markets including NZ, the UK and USA.

Under her leadership the Ration Challenge grew fundraising income in four years from less than $200,000 a year to more than $3 million a year.

Now managing marketing around the world for an organisation with over 100,000 donors giving $8 million annually, Karen has turned her attention to design thinking and the supporter experience. For her work with the Ration Challenge (which has won several national and global awards), Karen was named one of the top 100 women of influence in 2018 by the Australian Financial Review.



Pawgust – from trial P2P event to major success

Trialling a new peer-to-peer event in 2017, the fundraising team at Guide Dogs SA/NT knew they had a great concept for engaging their supporters but lacked sufficient traction in one small state to pull it off convincingly.

Bring on year two! With a revised strategy, a new name, a different time of year, a national collaboration across the federated organisation, and (most importantly) a new digital communications strategy, Guide Dogs nailed the 2018 event.

Come and learn how a localised event of moderate success was transformed into a national fundraising star. Key areas covered in this presentation will be:

  • Analyse, adapt, succeed – taking learnings from early attempts and adapting for success
  • How to genuinely engage with your supporters through primarily digital communications
  • Less is more – the pressure of time and the unexpected results it can drive

How a federated structure can deliver a great fundraising result


Presenter: Lauren Lynagh, National Event Manager, PAWGUST, Guide Dogs Australia

Lauren has built a successful career in the nonprofit sector over the past 8 years in events, community fundraising, marketing and volunteering.

She has worked at RSPCA Queensland and RSPCA Victoria, leading national peer to peer fundraising events such as the Million Paws Walk and Cupcake Day, drastically increasing both revenue and registration numbers year on year. Lauren also developed and managed large scale initiatives such as the world’s biggest adoption event, RSPCA Pop Up Adoption and the Gold Coast Pet & Animal Expo which had attendance numbers in excess of 20,000. Following this she was the Events & Volunteering Manager at Youngcare Australia managing all local and interstate fundraising events.

Lauren joined Guide Dogs Australia in 2018 to lead their new flagship event, PAWGUST, which has since become a national success story.



Presenter: Paul Morton, Fundraising Manager, Guide Dogs SA/NT

Commencing his fundraising life in corporate partnerships, Paul Morton now primarily focuses on fundraising and organisational strategy. For Guide Dogs SA/NT he currently oversees all strategic, tactical, and operational activities with the organisation’s 30,000 donors.

Before joining Guide Dogs he worked as Fundraising and Marketing Manager at AnglicareSA, growing revenue from $900,000 to $2 million over a two-year period across all fundraising streams. As Corporate Partnership Manager for The Smith Family he grew corporate fundraising from $900,000 to $1.6 million over a five-year period.


Volunteer committees – worth their weight in gold, or … not so much?

Many organisations oscillate between wanting to work with volunteers on their major fundraising events and wanting to run a mile. Angela Trieste will bring wisdom gleaned from two decades’ experience delivering gala events for large and smaller organisations to enable you to develop a checklist of do’s and don’ts in how to successfully manage your volunteers.

Rather than putting out a call and hoping for the right people to turn up, Angela will share her systematic approach to committee recruitment and management, how to hand pick the right people, and (perhaps most importantly) how to nurture, encourage and set boundaries such that everyone – staff and volunteers – has a good experience that attracts volunteers back year after year to your event.

You’ll go away relieved and empowered, able to avoid power tussles, and knowing how to get the best out of your volunteers.


Presenter: Angela Trieste, Director, Vanilla Bean Events

Angela has been planning, organising and executing events for more than 20 years. Graduating with a Bachelor of Business, Angela held a number if roles  in marketing and  nonprofit  organisations before establishing her own event management and event production agency in 2009, Vanilla Bean Events.

Angela has consulted to a broad range of global corporate and nonprofit clients. In the charity sphere her clients have included: The Children’s Hospital at WestmeadCerebral Palsy Alliance, and Epilepsy Action.


Embracing experiential fundraising – adventures as P2P charity fundraising opportunities

A high-powered panel of charity CEOs will discuss different aspects of peer-to-peer experiental fundraising through adventures and why this is working for their organisations.

Topics covered will include: the key factors required for successful adventure P2P events; the benefits of working with high-profile ambassadors; recruitment techniques, including conversion success and the value of using SMS; longevity and sustainability – why working with repeat adventurers (program alumni) has worked and much more.

If your organisation is considering experiential fundraising through adventures, or is already doing them, this presentation is a must see.


Panellist: Cameron Glover, Deputy CEO, Interplast Australia & New Zealand

Since 1983, Interplast Australia & New Zealand has brought together volunteer surgical teams to perform in excess of 25,000 life-changing plastic and reconstructive surgeries to individuals within 17 developing communities across the Asia Pacific region. Their mission is to repair bodies and rebuild lives by building the capacity of local medical systems through training and mentoring programs, and an ongoing commitment to providing life-changing surgery. Prior to joining Interplast in 2018, Cameron worked as a professional services consultant, as CEO of CrimCheck and General Manager of Volunteer West. His extensive volunteer work includes board roles with Special Olympics Australia and the Scout Association of Australia.

Panellist: Kirsten Pilatti, CEO, Breast Cancer Network of Australia (BCNA)

Kirsten was appointed CEO at BCNA after over a decade in marketing, communications and strategic project roles with BCNA and prior to that, five years at Cancer Council Victoria where she was responsible for delivering communications and campaigns around prevention messages. Kirsten is dedicated to delivering services and supports that ensure women, men, families, colleagues and friends affected by breast cancer have a place to turn to for information, connection and support. In 2017-18, Kirsten spent 18 months travelling around Australia interviewing more than 3,500 women and men about their experience of breast cancer treatment and services to find out where the gaps in service delivery were occurring. These findings made up the State of the Nation report which was delivered to Federal Parliament in June, 2018.

Panellist: James Toomey, CEO, Mission Australia

As a qualified social worker with an extensive background in community services, James is client-focussed and passionate about transforming the lives of Australians in need. He joined Mission Australia in 2010 as National Manager Community Services Operations Support and was appointed to his current role in November 2017. James brings in-depth expertise to the organisation and is committed to quality, collaboration, performance measurement and evaluation to achieve the best possible outcomes for the people Mission Australia serves. Previously, James was the Operations Director for SkillForce. He was also Assistant Director of Foster Care Associates in the UK. James is a Director of Mission Australia Early Learning, Mission Australia Housing and Mission Australia Housing (Victoria) and a Fellow of the Vincent Fairfax Centre for Ethical Leadership.

Facilitator: Justine Curtis-King, CEO, Inspired Adventures

Following a career in media sales and direct marketing, Justine combined her love of travel and experience of the nonprofit sector to create Inspired Adventures in 2004.

Inspired Adventures partners with Australian and international charities to create and manage fundraising events around the world. Since its inception, Inspired Adventures has helped charities raise over $30 million for life-changing causes and engaged more than 5,000 community fundraisers over 500 adventures.

Justine’s business acumen has been acknowledged through several awards including the Telstra Business Owner of the Year NSW, the Gold Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and a Bronze Stevie Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year.


Reinvigorating the MS Readathon for a new generation of supporters

Who knew? Reading actual books is still a thing and in 2018 a refreshed and revitalized MS Readathon connected with kids in new ways. In recent years the event had been in decline, so the team at MS had to decide whether to close it down or breathe new life back into it. Choosing the latter saw a 275% uplift over 2017 net income and a growth in registrations of 320%.

Come and hear how MS Ltd managed to turn the Readathon ship away from the rocks by: using an all new digital marketing strategy and three-year comms plan; and building a brand-new website with engaging online tools for their young fundraisers to connect with.

Lining the Readathon to a specific project – the MS Camps for Kids – gave new purpose to an old event and using email as part of the supporter journey helped achieve a much-improved fundraising result.

Year 7 student Jazzy Sim from The Illawarra Grammar School will add a unique participant’s perspective.


Presenter: Richelle King, Senior Account Manager, Donor Republic

Richelle King first became involved in the nonprofit sector while undertaking an internship at a charity as part of her communications degree. She loves all things digital and has developed specialist skills in online and peer-to-peer fundraising.

During her time at MS Research Australia, Richelle reformed the national fundraising campaign, Kiss Goodbye to MS. Under Richelle’s expertise the campaign income doubled, costs were significantly lowered, and she took Kiss Goodbye to MS to the world as the first global MS fundraising campaign.

Richelle is part of the Digital and Events team at Donor Republic and has worked across many high-profile fundraising events.


Paying to sleep rough – how Vinnies lifted corporate involvement in the CEO Sleepout

Many high-profile events struggle to sustain themselves over more than a decade, and after 12 years of the CEO Sleepout, Vinnies reviewed the event to look for opportunities to continue growth.

In 2017, a piece of commissioned research (on changing attitudes and perceptions on homelessness among sleepout participants) led to the Vinnies team transforming their peer-to-peer program and growing corporate engagement to a record level in 2018.

Come and learn how Vinnies changed its supporter journey to keep participants engaged beyond events, at the same time changing minds and building long-term corporate partnerships that can survive a night out in the cold.


Presenter:  Lucy Menting, General Manager, Marketing and Fundraising, St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria

Lucy has been at the St Vincent de Paul Society for more than a decade, including roles heading up the fundraising and marketing divisions, setting up the corporate relations department and managing the CEO Sleepout. 

Prior to joining Vinnies, Lucy worked as a contractor at Breast Cancer Network Australia and in financial services at ANZ and NAB, and in management consulting at PwC.


One-Of-A-Kindness Ball – a first gala with far reaching fundraising consequences

When Wellington Free Ambulance turned 90 in 2017, staff at this regional New Zealand charity decided to celebrate the anniversary by thinking outside the box about their gala fundraising event.

A glittering night was planned with a variety of objectives including: raise enough money to buy a ‘People’s Ambulance’; reinvigorate their supporter base; increase their profile and set Wellington Free up for a future where major gifts play a greater role in the fundraising mix.

The event far exceeded their expectations on all measures including blitzing their fundraising target, identifying a pool of major givers which is already bearing fruit, and building a stronger supporter base.

Come and learn how a small team can go from idea to instigation in twelve months. Diane will discuss how the ball was conceived, how it was promoted and sold to attendees, the fundraising tactics and methods used, key factors for success, and the longer-term fundraising benefits generated by the event.


Presenter: Sarah Coulthard, Fundraising Communications Advisor, Wellington Free Ambulance

Following six years in fundraising and communications in the U.K, Sarah came to New Zealand with an abundance of knowledge and experience in fundraising events and joined Wellington Free Ambulance (WFA) as the Fundraising Communications Advisor.

In her previous role working for a local NHS Hospital and regional children’s mental health service, fundraising events were crucial. Packaging fundraising and communications together saw stronger results and more meaningful outcomes. Sarah has organised everything from golf days, gala dinners and one day music festivals to volunteer management, logistics, budget and marketing.

In 2017 she managed a 10 month long campaign of fundraising and storytelling to help raise over $200,000 and celebrate WFA’s 90th anniversary.


Pedal to the metal – the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and MACA – an event sponsorship success story

Driven by the desire to have an impact in the community and to build employee values, major WA-based Mining, Civil and Mechanical services company, MACA, has become a committed partner in the Harry Perkins Institute’s Ride to Conquer Cancer.

A donation of $23,000 from MACA in 2012 kick started the partnership – which now totals over $10 million raised through MACA’s sponsorship and event participation and fundraising. Their commitment goes well beyond the $350,000 invested annually as title sponsor. As well as fielding the largest team of riders, MACA brings their suppliers and clients along for the ride, encouraging them to partner in lycra and fundraising, as well as in business.

Kirstyn Johnson will explain how she stewards a major sponsor to ensure its people, clients and suppliers remain loyal and committed participants, and how a good event sponsorship can grow and evolve to add real value to the event, the beneficiary and the sponsor.

Tim Gooch will discuss why the company sees the event as a great sponsorship fit; why they credit their commercial success in part to their involvement in the event; some of the challenges that have been overcome; and how the partnership has grown over seven years.


Presenter: Kirstyn Johnson, Partnerships Manager, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

After a career in management consulting Kirstyn Johnson joined the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in 2017, charged with delivering value to their corporate partners.

Kirstyn has consolidated and grown the Institute’s two major events, achieving a 50% growth in event sponsorship year on year ($350,000 to $500,000 for the Ride to Conquer Cancer). She has also introduced two new events and diversified the non-event portfolio resulting in $3.5 million in donations in 2017, to add to the $5.1 million derived from events.

Presenter: Tim Gooch, General Manager Mining, MACA Ltd

Tim emigrated to Australia from the UK in the mid-eighties to progress his career as a mining engineer. Working  across many continents, he developed his sense of responsibility towards the communities he worked within. Tim became captain of Team MACA in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in its inaugural event in Western Australia and has ridden every year since.


Is it a bloody good idea?

Sadly, most peer-to-peer events are not. Some lack a serious challenge element, or are too difficult to explain, or have no link to what your organisation does.

In this session, we’ll walk through the steps to determine whether your event idea is a bloody good one and has real potential to generate significant income. And if not, how to convince your boss or board to bin it.

You will learn:

  • How to identify whether your event, or potential event, is a ‘bloody good idea’
  • Take you step by step through the key drivers of successful peer-to-peer events
  • Show you some great, average and bloody awful peer-to-peer events
  • Provide a health check on your peer-to-peer event live, during the session (if you’re game)


Presenter: Jonathon Grapsas, founder & director, flat earth direct

Jonathon is the founder and director at flat earth direct, an agency dedicated to direct response fundraising for good causes. Jonathon has spent 17 years working with charities all around the world. Initially in the UK, and more recently in Asia, North America and his native Australia.

An entertaining, engaging and sought after presenter, bringing that rare mix of inspiration and pragmatism to the sessions he delivers.

Jonathon has a vast amount of experience helping charities great and small transform their fundraising. In the last few years in particular he’s driven growth for events of all shapes and sizes; fledging, mature and new peer to peer events. He has a knack for understanding what makes a great event and how to turn that potential into participation.



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