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The digital transition: FIA takes its conference online for 2021

10 December 2020 at 7:00 am
Conferences are still really hard to organise due to travel restrictions and a lingering coronavirus pandemic. But online platforms have made it possible to hold incredible events that keep people learning and networking. 

Contributor | 10 December 2020 at 7:00 am


The digital transition: FIA takes its conference online for 2021
10 December 2020 at 7:00 am

Conferences are still really hard to organise due to travel restrictions and a lingering coronavirus pandemic. But online platforms have made it possible to hold incredible events that keep people learning and networking. 

For the first time in its 44-year history, Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) has taken its annual conference online.

FIA has three full days of professional development happening from 24 to 26 February, but with coronavirus still a threat, most of the event – including keynote presentations – will be held virtually. 

But while FIA will trade the traditional conference centre and exhibition hall for the windows of an online platform, the conference still promises to be a stand-out.

Katherine Raskob, FIA CEO, said FIA Conference 2021 will allow people to discover new fundraising trends and ideas, and connect with peers and suppliers, both virtually and at times in physical hubs. 

“It’s still the largest and most important fundraising event in the southern hemisphere, created for fundraisers by fundraisers. We’re making it much more than a Zoom meeting,” Raskob said.

She added that with the pandemic wreaking havoc on the charity landscape, FIA couldn’t cancel the conference.

“Demand for charity services is at an all-time high thanks to the pandemic and now, more than ever, fundraisers need to be effective, decisive and resilient so that their organisations can survive and thrive,” she said.

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

Raskob said there were benefits to holding online conferences. FIA has significantly lowered the price of conference registration, and there are no travel and accommodation costs in 2021, saving fundraisers and their organisations time and money. Early bird conference pricing starts from $795 and closes Friday 11 December. Register here.

Another advantage is while delegates can tune in live to presentations during the conference, the organisers will make all sessions available for six months afterwards so that fundraisers can watch them in their own time. For once there’s no need to choose between sessions and miss out on a talk you wanted to see!

The 2021 conference will be delivered interactively with access to more than 60 presentations from fundraisers from around the world. Track topics include leadership and strategic partnerships; individual giving; community and events; middle, major and philanthropy; personal effectiveness; understanding your donor; and perhaps most apt in the circumstances, how to adapt and respond to change. 

Even suppliers to the sector will be there in a virtual expo to showcase their newest products and services and help fundraisers solve their campaign challenges. Fundraisers can arrange online meetings with exhibitors at a time that suits them. 

This year, as part of the conference experience, fundraisers can also attend a COVID-safe, face-to-face hub in their local area on Friday 26 February. In the hubs, they can gather for live-streamed discussions, network with peers and workshop to solve pressing sector issues. They will also be able to watch a live stream of the FIA Awards and celebrate over drinks with their colleagues. Space is limited, so book your place early. 

Exceptional line-up of international and local speakers

This year, FIA is thrilled to have Turia Pitt as one of the plenary speakers. Surviving burns to 65 per cent of her body, Pitt is living proof that with the right mindset, anything is possible. The bestselling author, two-time Ironman, surfer and adventure speaker will talk about how she spends her time making and doing cool things that help get people happier and more confident.

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 is also a TEDx speaker and currently sits on the advisory panel of Rogare, the international fundraising think tank. 

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

ASRC founder to give the Syd Herron Oration

For 2021, FIA is delighted to announce that Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, chief executive and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, will deliver the annual Syd Herron Oration. 

Karapanagiotidis’ 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, Karapanagiotidis founded the ASRC and has won dozens of awards and honours for his work. Be prepared for a memorable presentation.

Also on the program are Amelia Telford, national director of Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network; Bill Toliver, executive director of the Matale Line; Michael Whitney, digital fundraiser/trainer; Richard Spencer and Roger Lawson, directors of About Loyalty, and Viktoria Harrison, co-creator of charity: water and founder of The Branded Startup.

New conference in healthcare philanthropy a remedy for the times

And something new for 2021: on Wednesday 17 February, FIA and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy will team up to present a one-day conference for healthcare philanthropy and fundraising professionals. International and Australian experts will discuss critical topics and trends, including grateful patient programs, leadership and culture, stakeholder relations, clinician engagement and more. 


For the latest details of the FIA Conference, visit the conference website. And stay up to date with announcements on FIA’s Twitter account: #FIAConf2021.

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