FIA ConferenceFundraising Institute Australia will hold three jam-packed days of professional development from 24-26 February, but with a twist. Instead of having the event at a conference centre, most of the event will be virtual with one day of in-person professional development and networking at a local level.

“Rather than cancel an event that so many fundraisers look forward to, we’ve decided to provide the fundraising community with a different way to advance their professional development and provide opportunities for real networking. It will still be the largest and most important event in the Southern Hemisphere devoted to professional fundraising, and of course, organised by fundraisers for fundraisers,” said Katherine Raskob, FIA CEO.

“FIA Conference 2021 will be more accessible than ever. It will allow people to discover new ideas and reconnect with colleagues and suppliers both virtually and even physically at times. It certainly will be more than your typical Zoom session,” she added.

Ross Anderson, gifts in wills manager at the Alfred Hospital and chair of the 2021 conference committee, said with the current challenges surrounding the charity landscape, the show must go on.

“Many charities are facing huge increases in demand for their services thanks to environmental disasters, the ongoing pandemic and a downturn in the economy. So, fundraisers need to be effective, creative and resilient in raising even more funds so their organisations can continue operating and helping their beneficiaries. They need to be advancing their learning, sharing their experiences and honing their fundraising skills right now,” he said.

The theme for FIA Conference 2021 is ‘Change the way forward’. It communicates the need in these challenging times to come together, be inspired and navigate the future of fundraising together.

Online has its benefits

“Going virtual means people won’t miss out on the latest insights delivered by both international speakers and Australian experts. A virtual event offers FIA the chance to reach bigger audiences and provides a comprehensive, in-depth view on fundraising,” said Anderson.

“People can log into the conference from anywhere – the office, home or their favourite café – just as long as they have a decent internet connection!” he said.

To help fundraisers in these fiscally challenging times, FIA has significantly lowered the price of conference registration. Notably, there are no extra travel and accommodation costs to consider, saving fundraisers and their organisations money.

In 2021, fundraisers can access over 60 engaging sessions, covering nine differently themed tracks, two more than in previous years. Track topics include community & events, individual giving, donor-centricity, leadership and strategic partnerships and, perhaps most apt under the current circumstances, how to adapt and respond to change.

Another advantage is while delegates can tune in live to sessions during the conference, the organisers will make all sessions available for six months afterwards so that fundraisers can watch presentations in their own time.

“For once, there’s no need to choose between sessions and feel like you’re missing out,” said Raskob.

Delegates will also be able to network online based on their interests. The annual exhibition will go virtual, and people can arrange online meetings with exhibitors at a time of their choosing.

Friday real-world meet-ups

With COVID-19 restrictions gradually easing across the country, there will be opportunities for delegates to attend in-person hubs in their capital cities on Friday, 26 February. At the hubs, fundraisers will watch plenary sessions together and attend a team workshop to try and tackle one of the sector’s most pressing challenges: ‘Shifting the public assessment of charity effectiveness from one of minimising costs to one of maximising impact.”

To finish the day, FIA will live stream its annual awards and people will be able to celebrate with their colleagues (with social distancing in place) in their state hubs.

Early bird conference pricing for members starts from $795 and closes 11 December 2020. For program details, visit

Speaker’s corner (sidebar)

FIA has a fantastic line-up of speakers for its 2021 conference. Among the growing list of keynotes from home and away are charity CEOs, the world’s only philanthropic psychologist, leadership experts, branding gurus and change agents.

From the US, Michael Whitney is a digital fundraiser who has helped raise nearly $500 million (USD) for progressive candidates, causes and organisations. As digital fundraising manager for Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign, he helped raise more than $218 million online from nearly eight million contributions. He has written for The Nation, Politico Magazine and The Toast.

The UK’s Jen Shang is the world’s only philanthropic psychologist. Her research has been featured in The New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC and various fundraising journals. Working alongside Prof. Adrian Sargeant at the Institute of Sustainable Philanthropy, Jen uses science to create more memorable giving experiences that contribute to supporter wellbeing.

Amelia Telford is the national director of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network. An Aboriginal and South Sea Islander woman from Bundjalung country, she is passionate about positive change and supporting a grassroots network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to protect the land, culture and communities from the impact of climate change and fossil fuel extraction. Amelia has won numerous awards, including the National NAIDOC Youth of the Year Award (2014).

After two decades developing leadership, branding and communication programs for Fortune 50 clients, the USA’s Bill Toliver switched gears and founded the Matale Line to offer more innovative thinking to social impact organisations. With a global reputation as a transformational change agent, Bill has helped some of the world’s best-known nonprofits, foundations and social enterprise organisations reframe their approach to decision making, resource development and advocacy communications.

From Ireland, Simon Scriver is a fundraising consultant, coach, trainer, presenter, podcast host and co-founder of the Fundraising Everywhere virtual experiences. He has won Fundraising Ireland’s Small Budget Big Impact and Supplier of the Year Awards. He currently sits on the Advisory Panel of Rogare, the international fundraising think tank.

The UK’s Richard Spencer helps charities, membership organisations and social enterprises put in place the relevant tools and approaches to grow loyalty, gaining quick wins and longer-term solutions. He was the director for the Commission on the Donor Experience, has held senior positions at RSPB, Scope and The Children’s Society and was a trustee for three charitable organisations. He’s also a member of the IOF’s Supporter Experience Project.

ASRC founder to deliver Syd Herron Oration

In 2021, the Syd Herron Oration will be given by Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, the CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the country’s largest independent human rights organisation for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia.

Kon’s personal experience of racism and witnessing the exploitation of his parents in factories and farms planted the seeds of his passion for human rights. He has six degrees and has worked as a lawyer, social worker, teacher and author. At 28, Kon founded the ASRC and has won dozens of awards and honours for his work. Look forward to a memorable presentation!

FIA joins forces with AHP for conference in healthcare philanthropy

Around conference time, FIA and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) are teaming up to present a new one-day conference for healthcare philanthropy and fundraising professionals. International and Australian experts will discuss grateful patient programs, leadership and culture, storytelling, stakeholder relations, clinician engagement and more.

For more information and to register visit the website.