Interview: Sue Wixley

The head of communications at New Philanthropy Capital talks to John Plummer about how student politics proved to be the catalyst for her long-term career

Sue Wixley
Sue Wixley

How long have you worked in communications?

Ever since I left university in South Africa. I got involved in anti-apartheid student politics just before Nelson Mandela was elected president in 1994 and it has developed from there.

What do you like about the job?

PR is a part of a charity where you can have quick wins. You have long-term horizons but a media campaign can also make a big difference in a short space of time. It suits my personality.

NPC can say controversial things - is this deliberate?

We have started taking a more provocative stance. We are not an umbrella body or a sector body, so we can say things that are not popular, such as making charities think about their admin costs and their impacts. We also challenge donors to think not about what a chief executive is paid but what he is achieving.

Does the organisation's name present difficulties?

Yes - it can be a mouthful. On the other hand it's distinctive. There's an ongoing debate about whether to change our name.

What is your biggest challenge?

We're a small team and we do everything from the website to PR and events. There's also digital media now, so there is always something new to keep on top of.

Which charities impress you with their communications?

NPC talks about dry things such as cost-benefit analysis, so it's vital to tell the stories behind it. Small charities are good at doing case studies.

What advice would you give someone starting a career in communications?

Get a broad range of skills: work on PR, events, digital and so on, and work for different organisations and causes.

You will find what suits you. I prefer working for smaller organisations - I feel I'm achieving a lot.

Sue Wixley is head of communications at New Philanthropy Capital, a charity that helps donors and funders achieve greater impact

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