Welcome to the blog of the 43rd FIA Conference, taking place in Brisbane at the end of February. In 2017, I won the conference’s inaugural Myth Smashers challenge on the Gold Coast, which was exciting as I was up against some formidable competition. Since then I have been fortunate to be involved on the FIA Conference Program Committee and I was honoured to be invited to chair the committee for 2020.

Since starting in fundraising 16 years ago, FIA Conference has always been a significant event on my calendar because it’s a conference by fundraisers, for fundraisers. I love the chance to meet up with all my favourite fundraisers, friends and mentors. I also relish being able to get away from my office-bound computer for a few days to be inspired by the latest thinking and to discover what others are doing.

As our 2020 theme states, great fundraising really does start with you. I hope you can take the time out from the hectic, never-ending hamster wheel of campaigns, analysis and meetings to invest in your learning, your professional development and your networking.

Attending FIA Conference 2020 is your chance to get up to speed with everything new and exciting in our sector, to make your fundraising even better. There are some exciting and innovative new tracks in the program this year. The committee has ensured there is something for every level of fundraiser, and included topics that are a bit different to past years but very relevant – things that fundraisers are talking about right now. I’m looking forward to the brilliant information that will no doubt come out in these sessions, and the conversations they start in our sector.

The program we’ve put together stems from your feedback and what we see happening overseas. For example, we have developed a track on personal effectiveness topics, which is very on-trend. It covers areas like mental wellbeing in the fundraising space, thriving and surviving, the skills you need to succeed and how to work more effectively with your board.

I’m also looking forward to some of the sessions in the creativity and innovation track where you can find out more about trends such as human-centred design or how to ensure your organisation is actually ready for innovation. Importantly, we have a new trust and accountability track which contains critical knowledge to help us ensure fundraising remains sustainable in Australia.

There are many challenges ahead for fundraisers in the next few years, and the conference is the place to learn about developments and to be ready for them.  I’ll highlight two challenges that stand out for me: the first is how charities can stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. I think charities need to find their points of difference and figure out ways to present those points engagingly so potential donors can match their specific vision for the world with one’s organisation.

Finding sustainable and scalable new recruitment channels will also be challenging, as will be adjusting to people’s changing perceptions about charities. We’re understanding so much more about people’s motivations for giving; there is a real need to become more tailored and sophisticated in the way we speak to different audiences.

In the coming weeks, we’ll post blogs on a variety of topics based on questions we’ve asked some of our 2020 speakers and program committee members.

You can also send us ideas for what you would like to see at future conferences. We’d love your ideas on improvements, how we can ramp up the interactivity, what the emerging issues are for you, and what speakers you want to see. Send your suggestions to [email protected]

I do hope you make time to attend the conference in beautiful Brisbane. Our early bird offer is finishing on Friday, 13 December, so make sure you register soon so you can save money on your ticket. And if you make it, please come and say hello to me.

Alice Anwar MFIA
FIA Conference Program Committee 2020