Daniel Charles joined British Waterways as individual giving manager in January last year, seven months before the organisation converted to a charity and was renamed the Canal & River Trust.
"I was in effect fundraising for a non-charity," he says. "It was an exciting time to come to the role, because in a way it was a blank sheet of paper. My first seven months was about setting it all up, looking at what we had done in the past and figuring out what needed to happen next."
When charitable status was conferred on the organisation, his role didn’t change dramatically, except he was able to put plans into action. The biggest challenge, he says, was starting from scratch: "We had no donors, and were in a recession," he says. "So we had to start from scratch and recruit people – that has been our first-year focus".
Charles’ early career had been in the corporate sector, working in database management, but he felt he had to look further afield. "I grew tired of targets that meant somebody else made money," he says. "I didn’t find it very motivating – so I decided to leave and try temping in the third sector."
The first charity he went to work for as a temp was the international development charity Christian Aid – and he ended up carving out a career there, staying for more than seven years.
He wasn’t sure what to expect from Christian Aid at first. "But I found that everyone was very welcoming," he says. "They were people who were looking for solutions and I think that’s a distinctive feature of the third sector."
He had a number of roles at the charity, including individual giving officer and recruitment manager. "We all did a bit of everything before the team was split into specialised areas," he says. "I like the creative side – how to get people’s interest. So when the roles were split, I asked for a recruitment role." This culminated in his role as supporter engagement manager, looking after recruitment retention.
Charles says his ambition at the Canal & River Trust is to build a successful individual giving team and, beyond that, to recruit 100,000 donors in 10 years. The trust is a new entity and still finding its feet, but in some ways that can be an advantage. "Other departments, such as marketing and PR, have come out to work with us, observing how fundraising works, so we are all working together and learning from each other," he says.