Personal account

Glenn Oakes, regional fundraising manager, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign

The best advice I've had

Customer is king. People like to be valued and listened to, so I use any excuse to talk to donors. It's also important to be honest: we once had a donor make a £100 donation; the next week he sent a further £100, so I gave him a ring to let him know that he might have made a mistake. He said he had, thanked me for my honesty and then said he would send a further £2,500 the following day. We now get a hefty cheque from him every year.

The biggest challenge I've faced

I once worked for someone who had an uncontrollable temper and would erupt into a screaming fit in the blink of an eye, no matter who had upset him - staff, service-users, volunteers. Eventually I calmly let him know that I needed to be treated with some dignity. He apologised, shook my hand and I never heard a grumpy word again.

My greatest hit

Twenty years ago I worked with a very small Northern Ireland charity for deaf people called Nortel. I nominated a local branch for one of the Link Awards, which are like the Northern Ireland charity Oscars.

On the night when the winners were announced, the staff became increasingly despondent as the various awards came and went with no recognition of their work. By the time it got to the overall runners-up, all hope had been lost. But then, suddenly, everyone in the room was looking over at our table and clapping. Nortel had won the big one, and half our table burst into tears. They were so proud they had been recognised.

My worst moment

When I was 19, I did a radio interview to encourage people to leave legacies to charity. Unfortunately my mouth was in a higher gear than my brain and I said: "Death can be a positive thing." The interviewer's jaw dropped about three feet.

My top tip

Be grateful for any complaints you receive and learn from them: it's free market research - if one person is not happy, there may be others. If you can make a very small improvement, it's an improvement worth making. If you listen and respond with confidence, respect and sincerity, people always come round in the end. Complaints can be a positive thing ...

- Interview by Annie Kelly

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