Anthea Iva

JULIE MULLEN, Fundraising Manager, AEIOU Foundation for Children with Autism

Working in the not-for-profit sector, we understand the importance of recruiting and retaining a skilled team, particularly those within our fundraising team. To ensure our team members remain engaged, experience job satisfaction, and feel committed to our mission, we regularly review the environment we work within, and the supports we offer.

For example, we recently re-joined the Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA) as an organisational member. This membership not only provides access to best practice fundraising resources, but also connects our team members with a network of fundraising professionals. Some of our fundraising team members recently attended the FIA Conference in Melbourne and will participate in upcoming opportunities in Queensland to connect with their peers. By fostering a strong community of fundraising professionals, we can provide our team members with the resources and support they need to excel in their roles.

We are also committed to supporting the professional development goals of our team members. We understand that investing in the growth of our team members not only benefits an individual’s capability and career goals, but it also creates the best foundation for quality outputs within the organisation. For this reason, we have implemented a training and leadership as a coach program to uplift our team through regular training, workshops, and mentoring opportunities.

AEIOU is also a strong advocate for flexible working arrangements, including remote work options and flexible hours, as well as subsidised parking to ease the cost of commuting to work at our Spring Hill office. 

Finally, we offer five weeks’ annual leave to our team members so they can take time off to recharge and pursue personal interests. We also provide numerous opportunities for our team members to connect with our mission and feel connected to the work we do, through volunteering opportunities and attending events and fundraisers. 

So, while the Great Resignation has impacted numerous industries across the globe, challenging recruitment and retention, it has presented a great opportunity for all businesses to consider the value to employees in return. Creating a culture we are proud of is something we are committed to, and we know it’s an ongoing commitment to work on together in conversation with our team. 

ARANI DUGGAN, Director of Fundraising and Development, NextSense

At the heart of any great fundraising strategy are the people who are going to deliver it. Like most fundraising leaders, staff retention is at the top of my list of priorities.

At NextSense, we are lucky to have some of the key foundational pieces in place that support staff retention. We have recently implemented some very progressive provisions for our staff such as unlimited personal leave and six weeks annual leave, we are investing in leadership training for all our people leaders and we actively seek and act on employee feedback through staff engagement surveys.

With the foundations in place, it allows me to focus on what I can do as a leader to really build an engaged team. To retain great staff we need to create an environment of psychological safety. An environment where the team can bring their whole selves to work. Where they are given a platform to contribute their ideas, are rewarded for taking educated risks and can make mistakes without retribution.

All sectors and industries benefit from a culture of psychological safety, however, in fundraising, I believe it’s more important. As fundraisers, we need to be creative, strategic and resilient. We require exceptional influencing skills, and we need to take risks. If we don’t trust that we can take risks, our ability to be great fundraisers is impacted.

Fundraisers leave when they can’t see the impact their work is having, when they don’t have the autonomy to do their jobs and when they don’t feel valued. By actively building a culture of psychological safety, we put the responsibility for job satisfaction back in our teams’ hands and allow them to be the best they can be. 


KATIE COUANI, Senior Fundraising Manager, Wayside Chapel

What attracted me to work at Wayside Chapel, apart from the opportunity to help the most vulnerable people in Sydney, was its culture. More than anywhere else I’ve worked, Wayside lives and breathes its mission. At Wayside, we seek to offer the same empowerment and kindness to staff that we do to anyone who walks through our doors needing love and support.

We empower staff by trusting them to take responsibility for their work. Our professional development program aligns team members’ goals with our strategic plan, and in the fundraising team we allocate 1.5% of wages to training and development. Flexible working is embraced — this is not just about enabling parents to pick up their kids from school, it’s about giving people the time they need to manage their life admin and keep themselves healthy.

Burnout has always been an issue in the sector, and COVID-19 made it worse — it’s a key reason we’re facing the Great Resignation. Planning ahead, getting the right processes in place and ensuring effective collaboration across teams is key to preventing this. We have operational plans for each program area, integrated timelines for all future planned campaigns and regular structured WIPs. 

But what underpins everything is connection to mission. You only need to walk downstairs at our main office in Kings Cross to see people struggling with homelessness, mental health and addiction — and experience the love that Wayside meets them with. Helping staff feel truly part of that, by encouraging time with our community, consistently sharing impact and being transparent about progress is what keeps the fire in our bellies burning. We call it ‘filling up your Wayside cup’. 

Building trust takes time. Getting the foundations right takes determination. And a shared mission takes a whole lot of heart. But when you persist, you’ll not only retain staff — you’ll achieve so much more.