At Work: Fundraising - Personal account - Lucy Caldicott - VSO'shead of fundraising

Interview by Annie Kelly

VSO's head of fundraising on running, redundancy and becoming a trustee.

The best advice I've had

From my boss at the first charity I worked at - The Prince's Trust, back in 1997 - I learned that fundraising is all about relationships.

Whatever kind of fundraising you're doing, whether it's corporate, individual giving, major donor or trusts, it really helps to remember that and make sure you treat your donors how you'd like to be treated.

The biggest challenge I've faced

It's always the same one - getting people to take fundraising seriously.

No matter what charity you're working for, most of your colleagues have got an opinion about fundraising, but very few want to help you do it.

All too often, the fundraising team gets left alone to get on with bringing in the money. In every charity I've worked for, I've tried to convince people that if you can make friends and you're passionate about your cause, then you can be a fundraiser. It's not that hard.

My greatest hit

I think my greatest achievement was running the Flora London Marathon to raise money for VSO in 2004, although I use the word 'running' in the loosest possible sense.

I achieved the magnificent time of five hours and 25 minutes, but for someone who'd spent most of her twenties and early thirties focusing on eating and drinking, this was a major achievement.

My worst moment

My career hit a low note when I was made redundant from a job I loved in late 2001. Luckily, I was going on holiday the very next week, so I was forced to spend time thinking about what sort of work life I wanted in the future.

I took the decision to take a year out to do a Masters in Development Studies at SOAS - the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London - and that helped me decide on a career in international development. I joined VSO in November 2003.

My top tip

Something people might not have realised is that a good way of getting broader experience at a more senior level in a charity is to become a trustee.

I've been a trustee of Vauxhall City Farm in London for three years and enjoy being closer to the beneficiaries of my work than I can be in VSO's London office.

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