People with Purpose: Raising the bar to create a better world

Posted on 22 Mar 2024

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Fundraising Institute Australia CEO Katherine Raskob

Making a positive difference in the world is what drives Fundraising Institute Australia CEO Katherine Raskob.

How did you become involved in the not-for-profit sector?

The roles I’ve enjoyed most in the past 20 years have been either in the-not-for profit or government sectors.

I spent almost eight years at SBS as head of marketing and I loved their mission to provide quality television, radio and online experiences that reflect modern multicultural Australia and everything they produced was for Australians – not to line the pockets of shareholders. 

I’ve now spent about nine years in not-for-profit industry associations with the past five-and-half at Fundraising Institute Australia which is not only a not-for-profit association but also serves the not-for-profit sector, as well.

I love that I can make a difference in so many ways that are so squarely in the space of helping our community, our society, and our country.

Tell us a little bit about the purpose of Fundraising Institute Australia.

The vision of Fundraising Institute Australia is bigger impact for a better world through best-practice fundraising.

Our mission is to build a vibrant community of best-practice fundraisers and a culture of professional fundraising in Australia.

We provide education and training, support and advocacy, and the promotion and protection of the fundraising sector.

The FIA Code is the self-regulatory scheme that guides the sector to professional best practice and it’s what makes FIA unique.

As a not-for-profit peak industry body, everything we do is for our members and the sector, and any surplus generated by our activities and events goes straight back into the organisation for the benefit of members.

Also to note, more than 200 volunteers help FIA to deliver our mission on the ground in each state and territory and across all our key activities and we are so lucky that they provide their time, talent, and generosity of spirit in the pursuit of best-practice fundraising.

FIA is now in its 52nd year. Our membership has grown dramatically in the past five years and in 2024, we delivered our largest-ever national conference in Brisbane where we had around 1,500 people gather to learn and share and connect with each other as well as celebrate our achievements. 

We’ve also grown the impact and integrity of the National Awards for Excellence, and our professional education programs – including our national mentoring program – have also grown substantially.

We continue to lobby Commonwealth and state governments on issues that impact charitable fundraising and protect and promote our sector which is worth a whopping $13.7billion.

"The vision of Fundraising Institute Australia is bigger impact for a better world through best-practice fundraising."

What is the biggest issue facing fundraisers in Australia today?

There are a few!

The decline in the number of donors and the challenge to retain them; the current economic impacts that may impact charitable giving in the future and generational shifts in giving – how do we continue to engage Australians with so many causes which need support?

AI is certainly a big issue – how do we use the new tools to our advantage while retaining the connection with donors which always comes from the heart?

What lessons have you learned from your time in the NFP sector?

How critical the not-for-profit sector is for society and how important its impact has been eye opening for me.

The fact that our sector employs more people than the mining sector and relies on both incredibly professional, smart and passionate leaders as well as millions of volunteers is quite astounding.

I’ve learned how important it is to keep investing in our ongoing professional education and development as professional fundraisers so we can continue to meet the challenges we face and continue to make greater impact.

I’ve learned how important engagement is – with members, stakeholders, government, communities – as we can’t go it alone to get results.

I’ve also learned – particularly from fundraisers – that sharing, being collaborative and working together benefits all of us and helps to further our impact even more – like the rising tide lifts all boats, as they say.

Not many other sectors value or demonstrate this the way the charitable fundraising sector does.

Who do you admire most in the world and why?

This is a tough one – so many admirable people! I would say at the moment I’m very impressed with Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

At the age of 15 she took up a protest to demand stronger action on climate change and hasn’t stopped! Her grit, determination and passion at such a young age is inspiring for the next generation of leaders.  

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