Narre North fundraiser takes top gong

Young Fundraiser of the Year Luke Toebelmann.

A fundraiser with a Melbourne-based social justice organisation has walked away with the Young Fundraiser of the Year gong at the 44th National Awards for Excellence in Fundraising.

Narre Warren North local Luke Toebelmann, a corporate partnership manager with the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL), has worked in fundraising for just over five years and was announced as the winner of the award at a virtual ceremony on Friday 26 February.

The Young Fundraiser of the Year honour goes to a promising up-and-coming fundraiser who has demonstrated excellence in raising funds, promoted best practice fundraising, inspired donors, managed successful campaigns and given back to the fundraising sector or community as a volunteer.

“Luke has shown to us that the future of the fundraising profession is in good hands. His list of accomplishments is impressive. He’s an inspiration to his contemporaries as well as more seasoned fundraisers across the sector,” said CEO of FIA, Katherine Raskob.

Speaking about the award, Luke said: “I’m extremely proud of the award; however, I’m not entirely comfortable with individual recognition. There are so many people that have supported me in my career, so I really just want to thank them for the guidance, support and leadership that they’ve kindly offered to me.”

Luke started his career in the tertiary and higher education sector, managing student engagement programs to create an inclusive and fun environment for local and international students.

After travelling around Australia and seeing the level of inequity and disadvantage that exists in many places, he decided to move into the not-for-profit sector to make a difference.

Luke is currently working on his Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential and has given back to the sector by founding a corporate partnerships special interest group through FIA Victoria.

As a kid, Luke ran laps around his primary school oval to raise money for charity. Twenty-two years later, he still runs for charity. In 2019, he volunteered outside of hours to rally BSL staff to raise over $30,000 for charity through the Melbourne Marathon and during the recent pandemic lockdowns, he ran a 50km ultramarathon on his treadmill at home to raise funds for people experiencing disadvantage during Anti-Poverty Week.

Luke is also a past board member of state and national organisations which create engagement opportunities for tertiary and higher education students. Throughout his time working in the education sector, he was recognised at a national level for his work creating engagement programs for socially isolated students.

BSL is a social justice organisation working to prevent and alleviate poverty in Australia. Joining BSL in 2019, Luke led the implementation of a best-practice philanthropic partnerships framework that included program partners across the organisation, employment partners, suppliers and research.

At BSL, Luke has worked tirelessly to instil best practice, develop a culture of philanthropy and build relationships with internal and external stakeholders. In just 12 months, BSL’s corporate partners’ portfolio has grown to over $5 million, including BSL’s largest-ever single philanthropic gift.

The key to Luke’s success is stakeholder leadership, embedding the philosophy that raising funds is everybody’s business, not just the fundraising team.

His external key partners have nothing but praise for his transparency, accountability and impeccable relationship management skills as do his BSL colleagues.

“Luke is a passionate, talented and incredible relationship manager. In my 15-year fundraising career, I’ve not worked with an up-and-coming fundraiser who has impressed me more than Luke,” said Karen McComiskey, BSL’s head of fundraising and philanthropy.

Before joining BSL, Luke worked for the Cathy Freeman Foundation as a community events and peer-to-peer fundraiser. He helped grow community fundraising to one of the organisation’s most lucrative revenue streams, recording a 171 percent increase in fundraising revenue and a 206 percent increase in event participants.

He was also instrumental in securing and implementing the foundation’s first million-dollar partnership, the largest in the organisation’s history.

The awards are organised by Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA), the peak body for professional fundraisers.