Laurie Boult, head of corporate charity, Whizz-Kidz

The head of corporate charity at Whizz-Kidz on drenching your clients.

The best advice I've had

An ex-boss told me to learn a lot about someone before you meet them. Not that I should advocate stalking, but for a recent corporate dinner I researched the guests' favourite football teams. It was a great way of chatting without going straight in for the fundraising ask.

The biggest challenge I've faced

Moving from a large charity, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, to this smaller one, I wasn't prepared for the speed at which Whizz-Kidz evolves. The challenge is to keep a tangible 'product' for corporate donors as we move past our original remit of delivering mobility equipment towards supporting children and young people into adulthood.

My greatest hit

Taking Breakthrough Breast Cancer's partnership with Marks & Spencer from a pin-badge campaign worth £145,000 to a large-scale, cause-related marketing partnership worth more than £2m. In 2006 we won the Business In The Community award for best corporate partnership and I was asked to contribute a chapter on real partnership in Valerie Morton's Corporate Fundraising book. My family had me down as the next JK Rowling.

My worst moment

My first big gig was pitching to the Bingo Association for a huge charity-of-the-year partnership at Breakthrough Breast Cancer. We had high hopes for the partnership and I was pitching with my director and chief executive.

I was held up by an accident on London Underground and was an hour late for the pitch. I arrived sweaty, out of breath and apologising profusely.

I was handed a litre of water by a senior executive at the association, which I then spilled all over him, me and his laptop. Despite my horror, and although I expected to get sacked on the spot, we won the pitch.

My top tip

Never make a promise you cannot keep just to win a pitch. And also remember that, outside the office, people are just people, so be completely natural from the outset.

Businesses are buying into you as much as they are the charity, so if you expect a long-term partnership, it pays to establish trust from day one.

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