Meet the fundrais­ing Myth Smashers

Intro­duc­ing Australia’s Myth Smash­ers, young fundrais­ers who have been giv­en the chance to debunk the myths sur­round­ing our profession.

Written by
Joe Burnett
June 27, 2019

Meet the fundraising Myth Smashers

There is no doubt. Fundraising myths abound. We hear them all the time, when people say, ‘It’ll never work here’, ‘We couldn’t ever get that past our trustees’, ‘direct mail is dead’, ‘you have to ask three times in every call’, ‘the only media that matters now is social media’, and so on and so on. Fundraising myths can be boring at best, dispiriting and destructive at worst.

So the Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) has come up with an initiative that gives young career fundraisers an unrivalled opportunity to boost their career and self-confidence while blowing at least one of those myths away.   

Welcome to Myth Smashers, a platform that encourages new speakers to take the big stage at conferences. Inspired by SOFII’s I Wish I’d Thought of That (IWITOT) concept, Myth Smashers gives young aspiring fundraisers the chance of a lifetime.

Here's what Natalie Walker, Executive Manager (Conference and Events), Fundraising Institute Australia said:

‘Myth Smashers has become such a great part of the FIA Conference. Initially we developed it between us all as an opportunity for women in fundraising. However, in this day and age it can’t just be about opportunities for women – based on what our diversity and inclusion experts were advising us at FIA’s annual conference. Myth Smashers’ mission is to help promote all under-recognised or diverse groups that find it difficult to have a platform for their voice. Obviously; that means a focus on young fundraisers, but we’ve reframed it now to cover all under-represented groups including people with a disability and others.’ 

Katherine Raskob, Chief Executive Officer, Fundraising Institute Australia said:

‘We would be delighted to see this concept grow as it is so great – and for it to be open and accessible to all. We really appreciate SOFII’s support of the session.

Each Myth Smasher is supported through the process by a mentor

Mentors support the Myth Smasher by video, phone or in person. They help the Myth Smasher hone and refine their presentation. 

Their role is to:

  • Boost confidence and help reduce the terror of that first big presentation
  • Be encouraging and supportive
  • Help guide and nudge the presenter without telling them what to do
  • Question the myth: Is this something most of the audience could identify with? Can the answer help their fundraising? What evidence is there beyond your story that this really is a myth?
  • Work on the timing with them – make sure they don’t feel like a failure because the main point was left out because the timer went
  • Help deal with the timing pressures and keep to six minutes
  • Make sure the presentation materials / video / props make sense and reinforce the point
  • Encourage techniques for winning the audience over: stories, humour, humility, passion etc 

They deliver this role in around three to five catch ups and one or two rehearsals online. Hopefully the mentor can also support on the day. The mentor can ask another speaker to support the Myth Smasher at the pre-presentation rehearsal, though we’ve found on the day the Myth Smashers all support each other.

Now, prepare to meet the Myth Smasher winners from the 2017 FIA Conference until today! 

Alice Anwar – 2017 winner

Head of Individual Giving, CARE Australia

As Head of Individual Giving at CARE Australia, Alice has spent the last three years managing a cross channel individual programme covering supporter care, appeals, regular giving and virtual gifts.

Her 15-year fundraising career includes agency, charity and freelance copywriting experience both in Australia and overseas. Alice has extensive knowledge of direct mail strategy, creative, analysis and execution across individual giving.

Alice said: 

‘Having the chance to stand in front of a room full of my peers to share my knowledge and passion was unforgettable. Before winning the first Australian Myth Smashers session, I’d never been brave enough to speak about fundraising – even though I’ve been in the industry for over 13 years! This experience allowed me to share the stage with some wonderful fundraisers, gave me the confidence to be more involved in the charity speakers circuit and opened up many more exciting networking opportunities. I’d encourage every up-and-coming fundraiser to take part – and every other fundraiser to attend this session in support of their peers.’

Victoria Andrews – 2018 Winner 

Senior Manager Community Programs, Mater Foundation

Victoria is a passionate fundraising specialist with experience in strategy development, marketing and communications, stakeholder engagement, transformational events and project management. For more than eight years Victoria has dedicated herself to serving the profit for purpose sector to make a positive impact in the community. During her time she has led various initiatives focused on peer to peer fundraising, community fundraising, direct marketing, regular giving, special events, supporter care and corporate partnerships. She is proud to consider herself a generalist fundraiser, and is well regarded for her strategic focus, creative mindset, high level thinking and ability to lead teams through significant organisational change. Victoria’s career has spanned the tourism, disability, medical research and health sectors. She is particularly passionate about addressing health issues, mental health, gender equality, women and children’s rights.

Victoria said:  

‘I was inspired to be part of Myth Smashers 2018 after watching Alice and the other Myth Smashers presenters in 2017. They were passionate, genuine, engaging and all new faces … to me at least. I was thrilled to see emerging leaders in the sector given opportunities to speak at Conference and develop their skills. My experience was nerve-wracking, exhilarating and challenging. I was so proud to share the stage with some incredibly talented fundraisers. Winning the 2018 Myth Smashers was very humbling and definitely a career highlight. I learned a lot and continue to feel immense gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the Myth Smashers experience.’

Claire Hughes – 2019 Winner

Community Fundraising Manager, Legacy Brisbane  

With over seven years’ experience working in the not for profit sector in both the UK and Australia, Claire specialises in peer to peer campaigns, signature events, community partnerships and relationship fundraising.  

Through her work, Claire is committed and passionate about using her expertise to drive income generation, supporting her chosen causes in achieving their mission.

In her current role at Legacy Brisbane, Claire established and implemented a strategic community fundraising portfolio in order to increase sustainable revenue through campaigns, programmes and events, as well as identifying new partnership opportunities.

Claire said:  

Winning Myth Smashers 2019 was truly a humbling experience, one in which I am extremely grateful to the FIA for.
Standing up on stage in front of so many brilliant fundraisers was a little nerve wracking, but knowing I was up there with other talented first-time speakers helped to ease the fear.
Myth Smashers helped me to recognise how proud I am to be a fundraiser and what a privilege it is to use my expertise and experiences to support such worthy causes. I’d encourage anyone and everyone to do something similar if you can!

Lauren McDermott  2020 Winner

Fundraising Manager (Donor Development), Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

Lauren is a paper hating, time-saving fundraiser with a passion for making donors feel like the rock stars they are.

Lauren’s passion for NFPs began when she volunteered overseas whilst still at University. After seeing poverty first hand, she decided her life would be more fulfilling if she worked for causes rather than shareholders. 

Lauren’s fundraising career began shortly after she arrived in Australia when she began working at large healthcare company. Lauren now manages the Donor Development team at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, a small passionate team focusing on the entire donor experience - CRM/data/cash/regular appeals, stewardship and gifts in wills.

She believes that sincerity is at the heart of everything. When Perkins donors were recently asked if they would recommend the charity to a friend, the overall score was 8.9/10 and this is echoed by increasing income year on year.

Lauren completed studies in Business and Marketing at Liverpool John Moores University in 2013 graduating with a first class degree (BaHons), before leaving the UK shortly after to explore Australia for a year. She is yet to go home.

Kellie O'Sullivan - 2022 Winner

Internal Communications Adviser for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Kellie O’Sullivan has 12 years’ experience in communications, public relations and fundraising across the corporate communication and fundraising sectors. She is passionate about helping improve the lives of others and working in organisations dedicated to delivering opportunities and positive outcomes for the community. 

At the time of her Myth Smashers presentation, Kellie was the Development Coordinator at the University of Newcastle, where she project managed and led alumni and stakeholder engagement, as well as fundraising initiatives to deliver the Alumni House project.

Kellie said: 

'Participating in Myth Smashers was a career highlight! The fundraising industry has greatly advanced its methodologies and practices over the past decades. No longer is it just about door knocking or emptying our pockets of gold coins for the school cake stall.
There has been a significant emergence of grassroots fundraising organisations being established. People are motivated for many reasons to donate money, leave a bequest, or philanthropically contribute to a cause, event, or a capital campaign. 
The Fundraising Institute of Australia’s Myth Smashers session provides a platform for fundraisers to critically analyse and provide peripheral perspectives about our industry.I was honoured and humbled to be selected to present and share what motivates people to give to a capital campaign; winning was the icing on the cake!'

Kate Rule - 2023 Winner

Special Supporter Coordinator at the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), Queensland Section

Kate came to the for-purpose sector looking for more a meaningful career after nearly a decade in pharmaceutical marketing.

In the first mid-value donor focused role for the RFDS, Kate’s purpose is to nurture and cultivate new and existing relationships with these generous donors. Kate spends her time crafting personalised communication and experiences as she grows to understand these donors through human connection.

Kate said: 

‘Sitting in the rehearsal the evening before, watching my fellow Myth Smashers run through their slides, I was awed by their clever, heart-warming, and insightful presentations. I decided then that I had not a chance of winning but felt so grateful for the chance to speak alongside them, and in front of many fundraising ‘rock stars’ I’d admired for years. 
Winning came as a shock, but filled me with pride, confidence (and the reddest face you’ve ever seen). Since winning, I have been invited to speak at another two events, and it has resulted in an increase in confidence I didn’t see coming. I’m also now known as the “cartoon lady” which to be honest, I don’t hate. 
Myth Smashers was a great entrance to the world of public speaking. The mentorship was invaluable, and I felt the support of the room as I was up there presenting. This is a really exciting part of the FIA program for fundraisers looking to take their professional development up a few (hundred) notches!’

About the author: Joe Burnett

Joe Burnett

Joe Burnett (he/him) cut his teeth as an intern at the Association of French Fundraisers, he then embarked on a career in advertising before returning to where his heart lay: in the charities sector. Joe is passionate about fundraising and how it can be a force for positive change in the world. 

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