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Sentiments from our Scholars

Here are what some of the Fish Scholars had to say about their experience.

2015 Winner: Neal Taylor

Holy Fools, CEO

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Courtesy of the 2015 Fish Scholarship, I had the privilege to attend the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s Fundraising Essentials one day workshop, August 2015 for the charity I am CEO of, Holy Fools Inc. Having stumbled along with learning about fundraising from the web, others and several books (most of which seemed US-centric), I was eager to mix with other fundraisers, in a workshop about Australian fundraising issues.

It was great to arrive and meet the other participants, and even more interesting to go around the room and hear where everyone was from. I seemed to be the only one from an organisation (Holy Fools) that still raised funds from sausage sizzles! Others were from larger charities and organisations with multi-million dollar fundraising budgets, who ran events and had fundraising to a fine art. However, everyone attending was there to learn the essential basics, regardless of the organisation they belonged to!

The workshop was lead by Ms Susanne Williamson, a member of the FIA and the fundraising leader at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Utilising her own stories, and those of others, Ms Williamson lead the session through a workbook that covered topics such as Fundraising & Philanthropy in Australia; Law and Order; Motivations, Methods and More; Tools of the Trade; Your People; Where to From Here?; and Where to go for Help.

Thank you to Bianca and the team from Fish Community Solutions for the opportunity to attend the workshop! It was certainly an eye-opener and opportunity to discover some new fundraising ideas, concepts and pathways for my own fundraising that have certainly helped since the one day workshop. Much of what I have learnt has formed the basis for our fundraising strategy for the coming months and years. It has also shown I have more to learn!

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2014 Winner: Chantelle Baxterchantelle-baxter
One Girl, Co Founder and CEO

It was my first ever fundraising training session. Despite the fact that I’ve been fundraising for almost 5 years now, I’d never once had any formal training. I was nervous but excited about what was in store.

Over the course of the day, we covered a variety of topics – but there were a few key takeaways for me that stood out as the three key things that were going to drastically change at One Girl.

Get a Donor Database
Our teacher said “the money is in your database” – the best fundraisers use their database wisely. I was a little shocked – we don’t even HAVE a database! We’ve got mailing lists that we use on an ad hoc basis, but we aren’t keeping track of who has donated what, how much they’ve donated over time – NONE OF IT! That changed as soon as I got back into the office. We’re now in the midst of creating our own donor database so we can start tracking the people that have donated to us and moving them up the fundraising pyramid.

The 80/20 Rule – 80% on your current donors, 20% on acquisition
As an organization, we spend almost ALL of our time on recruiting new donors, fundraisers, ambassadors and supporters. We’ve put very little energy into nurturing the donors we currently have, beyond a couple of emails and a personalised video if they’ve done an amazing job. In this course I discovered that not only is acquisition expensive, but you’ll find that you can drastically increase your income by nurturing the supporters you ALREADY have. In 2015, we’re now spending 80% of our time loving up our current supporters and just 20% of our time focused on finding new people. And as they say – if you delight the believers, they’ll find the new donors for you!

Move people up the fundraising pyramid
I also learnt that we need to provide new opportunities for people to give. At the moment we focus quite heavily on peer to peer fundraising, but we need to have a supporter channel that we can move people through. Perhaps they give a one off donation, then they come to a gala, then they become a monthly supporter. We need to create channels and opportunities for people to engage with us. Diversifying our income stream and having more product offerings is another big focus for this year.

Overall, the FIA Essentials course was fantastic. It covered not only some basic theory of fundraising, but I took away some very important actions that I could see would make a big difference to our current operations. I’m very grateful for the scholarship and I have no doubt it will have a huge impact on our fundraising this year! Thanks so much to Fish Community Solutions for the opportunity. You guys rock!