How long have you been in your role?
I’m proud to hold two fabulous roles. I’ve been director of fundraising at the British Heart Foundation for just under four years and chair of the Institute of Fundraising for two-and-a-half years: my term is up in the summer of 2020. I’ve had the joy to work for some of the sector’s best-loved brands, and the BHF is no exception. I absolutely love representing and serving the fundraising community through my role at the IoF.
Do you think fundraising has changed since you have been involved with it, and how?
The fundraising landscape has changed over the past few years but some core elements of the profession remain the same. I started fundraising in 1995 at Red Nose Day, when the General Data Protection Regulation wasn’t even a twinkle on the horizon. Since then we’ve matured as a sector, learning to put the donor at the heart of everything we do. We’ve adapted to the rigours of data protection and the new Fundraising Regulator, and those working in the sector have been held to account when they’ve failed to behave in a way that meets the expectations of their supporters.
I’ve seen fundraising grow into a respected and professional career, and the current work to move the IoF to the Chartered Institute of Fundraising will be another step along that road.
The growth of digital has been crucial and the traditional siloed approaches to how we interact with our donors, and even how we structure our teams, won’t work in the future. Working out how to best to utilise the new opportunities of the digital landscape still keeps so many fundraisers up at night. But so much is still the same. Shaking the collecting buckets with vigour and putting up gazebos, come rain or shine, will always be key requirements.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the sector in the year ahead?
In 2020 the UK will be finding out what it really means to no longer be part of the EU, and my personal view is that fundraising will become even tougher than it is now. Fundraising in a potentially challenging economic environment, while working to make the sector more diverse and sustainable, is a heady cocktail of hard work for all fundraisers. Luckily, I can’t think of a community of people who will respond more positively and proactively.
At the BHF we are working hard to become leaders in diversity and sustainability. The IoF’s Change Collective, which works towards a long-term vision of an equal, diverse and inclusive profession, is also a great example of the huge leaps forward the entire sector is taking.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
According to my mum I was bossy in the playground and the natural organiser among my friends, so some kind of leadership role might have been inevitable. But I also wanted to be a policewoman, an actress and a ballerina. I ended up dancing to an entirely different tune, but I think fundraising has been the perfect career for me.
What advice would you give to a new fundraiser just starting out?
Create your own chances, put your hand up for projects you fancy, be brave enough to speak out and enjoy the best profession there is.