INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: MEMBER VIEWPOINT - Age should never be a barrier to developing your mind and career

Frank Layton, MInstF(Cert), a community fundraiser for Community Action Furness

I'm a new member who has recently completed the Certificate in Fundraising Management, despite the question I have been asked many times: "Why take a qualification at your age?" (I'm 59). Yes, I am at what is politely referred to as "a critical age". That has many hidden meanings, including ageism, which despite being a discriminatory practice, still exists in some recruiters' minds. So my mission is to ask all CEOs and HR personnel to read on.

Why did I tackle the course? Firstly, I have a fear that unused brain cells will fossilise. Secondly, I had a serious illness and learned to use new technology in order to cope with the period of inactivity and prepare for a return to work. Thirdly, a CEO that sees ability, not disability (I am also slightly disabled ), offered to let me work in a charity supporting unemployed young people. Finally, a friend told me about the Certificate - I enquired, and was allocated a well accomplished, sympathetic tutor.

I found it to be a different world, encountering criteria, outputs, inputs, beneficiaries, co-financing, and so on. This was a challenge I knew I could tackle with the support of the tutor and my accumulated experience.

Why take the course? Because it challenged me. Because it made me look at what I had done and what I was doing from another angle. Because it made me justify the approaches to the questions asked of me. Finally, it should make me better at my job. So, come on you 50-plus fundraisers who have not taken the Certificate - it's never too late to get better at your job. To those recruiters who are still with me - we older people have a wealth of experience. We want to do the job. We can contribute an awful lot and we are here. Don't look at age; look at quality, experience and qualifications.

- The Institute welcomes Viewpoint articles from its members. Please email the membership manager (Membership@institute-of-fundraising.org.uk).

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