Kath Hoban, who is National Director of Membership & Fundraising at The Wilderness Society, has been in fundraising for 20 years now and more recently has raised over $100 million for The Wilderness Society. Lise Taylor reports.


Cath HobanHow did you first get into fundraising?

Well, I sort of fell into fundraising. I started my career in corporate marketing for a public relations agency that had Cancer Council of Victoria (Daffodil Day) as a pro bono client. I loved working for the guys so much that when a position came up at the Cancer Council I jumped. Then a few months into the job the Events Manager resigned suddenly and they asked me to cover. Twenty years later I’m still in fundraising and have never looked back

Who and what shaped your early views on fundraising?

Definitely my parents. They were huge advocates for social justice, social welfare and community engagement, and as a family of eight we were always volunteering for one thing or another. This must have also rubbed off on my sisters, three of whom are involved in international aid and or local not-for-profits.

Tell us about your current role.

I’m currently the National Director of Membership & Fundraising at The Wilderness Society where I’ve worked for last seven-and-a-half years in various roles including acting CEO for a two-year stint. I love it for two reasons; because I’m passionate about the cause and because as an Australian based advocacy organisation I get to see the impact of our fundraising and advocacy work first hand. Not many jobs give you the satisfaction of coming home from work one day and saying, “Today we won. We saved the Kimberley!”

What have you learned about yourself since getting involved in fundraising? 

I’ve learned that while there is always some new channel or technology, not much changes in fundraising. It’s a pretty simple proposition about trust, delivery and impact, which pretty much sums up my approach to this work and I guess life in general.

What is the most interesting/successful campaign you have been involve in?

I’ve had an amazing opportunity to work with some pretty incredible organisations and implement some pretty fantastic projects so its hard to choose.  I oversaw the first pilot event of Relay for Life for the Cancer Council and was responsible for its initial roll-out in Australia. In the last seven years I’ve worked closely with integrated fundraising and advocacy campaigns that have seen the protection of The Kimberley coastline and Tasmanian forests being listed as World Heritage sites and more recently the protection of the Great Australian Bight against oil drilling by BP, while at the same time raising over $100 million for nature protection.

What are your key goals for the future?

They haven’t changed much: to continue to make a difference. Only now after nearly 20 years in senior marketing and fundraising roles, I have the experience to see more clearly the opportunities to do that, whether its through strategy, business process improvements or revenue growth.

Tell us something unexpected about yourself.

My first career was a singer in a jazz band.

What are your top fundraising tips?

My top five are to:

  • work for a charity you truly believe in. If you’re passionate about the cause you will inspire passion in others
  • learn about the donor experience by being a donor
  • evaluate everything regularly – nothing in this industry is set and fix
  • read lots, attend conferences, watch videos, do short courses and learn from other industries.
  • find the sweet spot between what you like, what you are good at and where the work is: if you love what you do you can’t lose.

Kath is presenting the Choosing to Invest to Build Loyalty, Commitment and Lifetime Value of Online Donors session at F&P’s Digi.Raise Conference on 21-22 June 2017. For further information or to book click here.


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