FUNDRAISING NEWS: VSO fundraising chief retires after 37 years

CLAIRE SAMES

VSO's director of fundraising is to retire after 37 years at the international development agency.

Dick Bird will leave VSO, which promotes volunteering to fight global poverty and disadvantage, in February next year.

Matthew Bell, communications director at VSO, said Bird's contribution could not be overstated.

"His big passion is believing in the power of the individual to make a difference. He's made it possible for tens of thousands of people to become professional volunteers. The new director will need ambition rather than experience," he said.

The organisation is currently searching for a replacement and will hold interviews in the week beginning the 18 November. Ideally, the charity wants the new director in place before Christmas to allow for a hand-over period.

Bird, who is currently on holiday, is responsible for a team of 27 fundraisers, who are broken down into three departments.

Libby Hartz is head of donor development and oversees a team of 10 staff, Tracey Walker manages corporate fundraising, including raising income through trusts, and Marina Barnes runs the community fundraising team.

The director of fundraising position incorporates the co-ordination of VSO's international fundraising efforts and contribution to corporate policy-making as a member of the international senior management team.

Bird started out with the organisation volunteering in Malawi in 1965 and returned to London to work in VSO's head office as an administrative assistant. In the early 1970s, he became VSO's first overseas programme director in Papua New Guinea.

He took up the role of director of fundraising in 1997 and wrote a book, entitled Never The Same Again, A History of VSO, to mark VSO's 40th anniversary in 1998.

VSO plans to increase the income it receives from non-DfID sources by 50 per cent by March 2005. Last year, the organisation's fundraising department raised £7.3 million and has set a target of £8.5 million for 2002/03.

The international agency also recently launched its first-ever direct response TV ad to recruit regular donors.

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