The announcement that Alan Gosschalk, former director of fundraising at the disability charity Scope, had been appointed director of fundraising and communications at the British Asian Trust might have been a surprise to many in the fundraising world.
Why would the BAT, which supports disadvantaged people in south Asia and aims to become the organisation of choice for British Asian donors, hire a non-Asian to such an important role? The question seems especially relevant given that the charity, founded by the Prince of Wales in 2007, had appointed another non-Asian, former Scope chief executive Richard Hawkes and Gosschalk's last boss, as chief executive a few months earlier.
Gosschalk sees nothing strange here. "We're the best two candidates for the roles in the view of the trustees," he says. "It's as simple as that."
The BAT is also a contrast to the brand-name charities Gosschalk has worked for in the past 27 years. Since taking a job in database marketing at Help the Aged (now Age UK) in 1989, he has worked mostly for well-known, UK-focused organisations, including the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK), the RNID, Scope and Shelter.
I will be learning about comms, as I will about Asian culture and language, and about disapora givingAlan Gosschalk
Gosschalk agrees that the BAT, which maintains a low profile with the public and relies mostly on donations from wealthy individuals in the south Asian community for its income (£1.8m in the year ending March 2014), is an anomaly for him. So what was the attraction? "It's a completely different challenge," he says. "This is back to the floor." In the past, he says, he has tended to manage large teams of fundraisers and big budgets, but at the BAT he will have only five fundraisers in his team and expects to "get his hands dirty" more often.
He says he has always wanted to work for an overseas charity and has a strong interest in poverty and human rights, having been born in South Africa to parents active in the anti-apartheid struggle. "I'm interested in south Asia, but not an expert," he adds.
Gosschalk's new role also gives him the chance to work with Hawkes again. He found out about the opportunity from his former boss, he says, but was not head-hunted.
This is his first combined fundraising-communications role in some years, and he says he is prepared for a steep learning curve: "I will be learning about comms, as I will about Asian culture and language, diaspora giving and engaging ultra-high-net-worth individuals, so the job overall will be a big challenge - and I'm incredibly excited."