Donna Holland moved from smaller to large charities

The head of fundraising and marketing at Girlguiding wanted to be a doctor, but when that fell through realised she could help people in the charity sector

Donna Holland
Donna Holland

My ambition was to be a doctor, but I was awarded the wrong GCSE grades; by the time the error was corrected, it was too late for me to change my A-level courses. Instead, I studied marketing and psychology, and I realised I could still help people by working in the third sector.

I did a marketing degree and found a year-long placement in 2002 with a charity, the Orpheus Centre for disabled young people in Surrey. I was offered a permanent position as marketing assistant with unpaid leave to finish my degree. My female chief executive encouraged me to develop my role. I became marketing manager and led a small team.

After three years I decided to leave, but I feared my three-month notice might make it difficult to find another job. I'd never taken a gap year, so I decided to do voluntary work in Estonia in 2006. Working directly with beneficiaries again was inspiring and reminded me how important charities are in making the world a better place.

I returned to take up a communications position at Missing People in 2007. I spent three years there, latterly as marketing manager. I'd gone from a small to a medium-sized charity – in 2010, I moved to a large charity as fundraising and marketing manager at Girlguiding, later becoming head of the department.

I love Girlguiding's ethos of inspiring and empowering young women. In my spare time I volunteer with St John Ambulance – a way of living my dream of being a doctor.

Donna Holland is head of fundraising and marketing at Girlguiding

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