My Story So Far: Alisa Avigdor fell into a fundraising career she loves

The director of philanthropy at World Jewish Relief says consistency is important in fundraising

Alisa Avigdor
Alisa Avigdor

I fell into fundraising in the late 1980s after seeing a job advert for a trainee fundraiser at the Jewish Blind Society, now part of Jewish Care. I stayed for six years and got a great grounding in all aspects, from events to individual giving and legacies.

I then had a fantastic four years at the National Youth Orchestra. The orchestra was 160-strong, but the staff team was small, which meant lots of responsibility and lots of money to raise. I moved to the Royal College of Music as director of development in 2000 because it was a larger organisation with much bigger fundraising targets. The college had huge ambitions, but was very supportive.

Consistency is important in fundraising if you are to build relationships with donors, but after nine years I'd completed a capital campaign to renovate a concert hall and felt it was a good time to leave.

I took time out and taught English in France for a year, but found that I missed fundraising, so I flew home for an interview for the role of director of development at the Jewish Museum. Having had a Jewish upbringing, I liked the idea of doing something for the community and was thrilled to get the job in 2011.

You must pick jobs carefully - you need to believe in the cause if you are to be good at fundraising. World Jewish Relief's cause appealed, and I become director of philanthropy last year. Seeing its work first-hand in Ukraine proved for me how important our work is. I'm lucky to have fallen into a career I love.

Alisa Avigdor is director of philanthropy at World Jewish Relief, an international humanitarian charity.

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