Careers: How I got here - Cara Evans, project manager, British Red Cross

What was your first job? I was working as a volunteer for domestic violence charity Refuge in south-east London. I got paid a stipend and they gave me a place to stay. It was organised through CSV. I ended up admitting people and running the refuge as well as managing its day-to-day issues.

What does your current role involve? I am project manager for two fundraising campaigns: Red Cross Week (2-8 May) and Open Gardens. I also chair the national Red Cross Week strategy group meetings and co-ordinate the event.

Roughly outline your career path. After working for Refuge I worked in St Lucia in the Caribbean, teaching parenting and English skills for six months. I then worked in California as a PA to the director of a non-profit organisation helping low-income families. I returned to the UK in 1998 and shortly afterwards I got a job at Whizz-Kidz where I started out as the community fundraiser. I eventually left in 2003 having risen to community fundraising manager.

What training has most enhanced your career? The preparation classes I took when volunteering for the Samaritans in 2001. The charity prepares volunteers to answer the phone and befriend people on a one-to-one basis.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Creating a network of fundraising volunteers to support Whizz-Kidz throughout the UK.

What is your advice to people starting out in this sector? Ask yourself how important money is to you. There are great benefits to working in the charity sector, but high salaries are not one of them!

Are there any charities you support financially, or with time? Besides volunteering for the Samaritans, I have set up a direct debit to Cancer Research UK and hope to volunteer for Water Aid this summer.

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