Personal account: Brendon Elliot

Remember my name, says the RSPCA's marketing officer for donor development.

The best advice I've had

Always concentrate on what makes your organisation unique. We all learn about unique selling points in our marketing coursework, but it's often forgotten or hidden so deeply in communications that potential supporters are left confused or, worse, so unmoved that our cause falls straight off their radar. Oh, and never drink a rusty nail after 4am.

The biggest challenge I've faced

Getting my first job in the fundraising world and being told that I had less than three months to produce a three-million volume cold mailing with 25 creative treatments, a doordrop campaign that would reach four million and a direct-response TV ad. I'd never bought lists, postcodes or airtime before and hit a learning curve so steep it was falling back on itself. Seeing the successful results roll in a few months later was an absolutely fantastic feeling.

My greatest hit

I can do a mean version of Fame ("... remember my name ...") by Irene Cara if a karaoke machine is around. Not that I'm a fan of karaoke, of course.

If we're talking about work, then it has to be being part of a team that has consistently hit its targets each year I've been here, and which has delivered income at a level that means we all get a jolly good pat on the back.

My worst moment

In a previous working life, I was a radio newsreader in Sydney. One month into the new job, I had a start time of 4am on a Saturday morning. The previous evening, the news team had an evening out and, as I lived quite some distance away, I spent the night on one of the settees in the office reception. At about 2am, something I had eaten disagreed with me, and I was sick right outside the office door of the most famous radio presenter in Australia. Luckily it was cleared before he arrived on the Monday, but I was never able to forget it. And no one has ever believed that I wasn't drunk, either.

My top tip

Trust your gut instincts, but never assume that a supporter will read your material because you think they should. Ask others, not necessarily in fundraising, for their opinions before mass mailing - often the non-professional marketers know more than we do. Having said that, if you believe in a proposition or concept, give it a go - it's the reason we're employed, after all. Test, test and test again. And keep your fingers crossed.

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