When Lise Taylor attended a recent FIA Fundraising Essentials course in Sydney, she was impressed by its comprehensive coverage of the foundations of fundraising.


fundraising 101As a person who continually likes to ‘improve’ herself – and being editor of Fundraising & Philanthropy – I’m learning all I can about fundraising. This is why I was keen to attend the FIA’s one-day Fundraising Essentials course, which is described as, A big picture overview of Australia’s fundraising sector.

Scheduled twice a year in various state locations plus online for those in more regional areas, the Fundraising Essentials course aims to teach the essentials of fundraising practice, trends and techniques.

Who should attend?

Attendees tend to be either new to the sector, perhaps having been in their role for only a few months, people who are already working for a nonprofit but taking on a fundraising role, or those who simply want to explore other areas of fundraising that they may not work within now.

A typical attendee is Olivia Pirie-Griffiths, who is from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. She participated because she had started at the organisation as a fundraising officer in December 2016 with no specific fundraising experience.

“I’ve had my ears to the ground looking for opportunities like this,” she commented. “The internet is pretty crowded with fundraising advice so FIA’s course provided a welcome and much more streamlined approach.”

If you have plans to work towards your internationally recognised Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) accreditation, this course counts for 7.5 continuing education points.

What about the presenter?

FIA utilises the expertise of a range of presenters. At the course I attended the facilitator, Daniel Bernstein, was excellent. He not only had 20 plus years of experience working in the sector but he also put a great deal of energy into ensuring the participants felt comfortable and that the content was inspiring and informative. He also gave many useful examples from his first-hand experience, often in addition to the comprehensive course content.

As Pirie-Griffith explains, “The FIA facilitator, Daniel, was especially good. He spoke to topics with a measured and intuitive approach while still managing to be very engaging.”

The content

Fundraising Essentials comprises five modules. The first visits key themes and concepts, and provides a sector and regulation overview. The next looks at donor motives and common models to help with strategy.

Module three, about donor acquisition and development, explores high volume/low value fundraising tactics such as direct mail and regular giving, and the fourth looks at the low volume/high value aspects of major donors, gifts in wills, corporate partnerships and trusts/foundations.

The day finishes with a focus on the role of data, on recruiting and managing volunteers, and on the all-important issue of how to involve your board in fundraising.

Pirie-Griffith says she enjoyed learning how vast the scope is for fundraising, and how you can really diversify your approach while still using proven methods to connect with people: “Thankfully, I came away with a feeling of it being a creative process, not one measured only by stats! It has also given me a rounded view of fundraising and the not-for-profit sector, as opposed to just knowing the organisations I’ve worked for.”

What dawned on me as the day progressed was how much I actually already knew about fundraising. I suppose you absorb much more than you realise from talking to fundraisers and philanthropists, writing and editing stories about the sector, and attending conferences. So, for me, what was brilliant about the day was that it solidified my knowledge and filled in several gaps.

For example, I had no idea – or had simply not thought about – the complexities of Australia’s regulatory framework. Between federal and state laws, ATO regulations around tax concessions and DGR status, privacy laws and the sector’s ethics and codes of practice, there’s a lot for fundraisers to keep track of. In addition, with so much digital fundraising now occurring, what happens across different states? There’s certainly nothing simple about any of this!

In-house and online options

It’s also handy that the course is available as an in-house training program for 10 or more participants. This makes it cheaper plus it can be run to suit the organisation’s timing.

The FIA’s Manager Education & Professional Development, Kathryn Hodgkinson, says, “The course content can be kept as is or modified and steered in a direction that best meets a team’s specific needs. Earlier this year FIA launched its online Fundraising Essentials course for those who find it difficult to attend the in-class course. This is a great option for those in regional areas.”

Further resources

A big workbook (available both in print and as a pdf) is included and it is packed with information, ideas and examples, and links to every possible useful website.

At the back is also a host of handy resources, including a professional development guide, information about tertiary education options and international conferences, a fundraising and philanthropy dictionary, the FIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and more.  

What’s next for me? Probably the Certificate in Fundraising, although I’m also tempted by some of the more specialised courses such as copywriting.   
Lise received a complimentary registration to FIA’s In-class Fundraising Essentials course. Upcoming dates include Brisbane 31 July, Sydney 9 August, Melbourne 16 August and Hobart 2 November. Visit fia.org.au/courses/fundraising-essentials for further information.


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