Interview: Sue-Anne Wallace Chief executive, Fundraising Institute Australia

Aussie rules: Walace wants to learn about the UK's approach to regulation and legislation

Sue-Anne Wallace is a woman on a mission - a mission that has brought her to the convention from down under, where she is chief executive of Fundraising Institute Australia.

Part of the mission is to spot talent - potential speakers for the FIA's own international fundraising conference, which takes place every February and is the largest international conference of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

But her main aim is to learn more about recent developments in fundraising in the UK voluntary sector that could prove to be useful back in Australia, such as the inception of the Fundraising Standards Board.
"I'll be looking at some of the initiatives that have taken place in the UK from which Australia can learn, including the activities of Acevo and the ImpACT Coalition," she says.
"I also want to talk to the Charity Commission, and I am particularly interested in the FRSB. We have been doing a lot of work on regulation. Now there is a separate organisation here, I want to see how it works."
What she finds out in the UK is expected to inform the submissions to the Australian government that Wallace and her colleagues are working on.

There are major differences between the UK and Australia. Fundraising legislation varies from state to state, for example, and there is more voluntary sector involvement in healthcare and education.
"Most Australians don't really know what's provided by government, by charities and by private providers, and that does lead to a murky area for fundraisers," says Wallace.

Geography also makes a difference - arguably, there's a parallel between the southern bias in the UK and the eastern bias in Australia, and the sheer distances involved exacerbate it.

Fundraising techniques are very similar in the UK, the US and Australasia, says Wallace, but there are subtle differences: "Some things - especially from the US - may not work as well in Australia, because we have a different social environment and different expectations."

Overall, she thinks fundraisers in Australia have more in common with their British counterparts than with those in North America. "In terms of regulation and legislation, we probably relate more to the UK than to anywhere else," she says. She points out that the Institute of Fundraising has been driven along the tracks of ethics and self-regulation, with the Fundraising Standards Board developing as a result, and that this is not paralleled in the US.

Wallace is on the ethics committee of the US-based Association of Fundraising Professionals. "It doesn't have the same direct tie to regulation and legislation that both the FIA and the IoF do," she says. "There is very little likelihood that a body like the FRSB would be developed in the US.

"Neither the UK nor Australia has the US-style tax structures that have made it advantageous to set up private foundations, either. But it's really the legislative structure that I will be focusing on in the UK."
The new Australian Labor government means there is even more in common between her country and the UK since Wallace last came here in 2005. The new administration has established a parliamentary secretary for social inclusion and the voluntary sector, and is also looking at a national structure for fundraising legislation. Wallace is determined to make the most of this interest, partly by looking at what has happened in the UK fundraising sector over the past decade.

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