Do you think fundraising has changed since you have been involved with it, and how?
Over the years, corporate fundraising specifically has become more competitive amongst larger charities because of the reduction in public funding coinciding with an increased emphasis on charities delivering key public services that historically were the government’s remit. In terms of changes in the same area of fundraising within small and medium-sized charities, I’d say it’s provided an opportunity to become massively more creative and explore opportunities to work collaboratively with others to achieve innovative service provision and income targets. I see corporate fundraising as a way to provide a new approach with different insights and expertise. In Depaul’s case this helps to reach more disadvantaged young people across the UK. It’s not easy, but with an open and inquisitive approach it’s led to many exciting new partnerships for us.
What advice would you give to a new fundraiser just starting out?
By all means do the due diligence, but approach the role in an inquisitive way. Don’t be afraid to widen your net and seek funders who are well aligned with the charity, but do something a little different. We’ve had real successes with organisations we wouldn’t initially have thought would consider supporting a lesser-known national charity or could meet our strategy aims. However, by taking chances, arranging meetings and making pitches and applications, we’ve satisfyingly been proven wrong.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
The ability to speak any language. I love to talk. When travelling I often get frustrated that I can't easily communicate with people I meet. I feel like it's such a missed opportunity not to be able to get to know people from other cultures and learn from their experiences, personal circumstances or outlooks on life. The power to be able to respond instantly in any language would be the ultimate superpower for me.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the sector in the year ahead?
It was, and still is, the General Data Protection Regulation. We are continuing to feel the impact of the GDPR and having to learn new ways of working. For example, we used to go to events and get lists of all those attending and prepare by researching the VIPs, potential prospects and so on. When we attend events now, or our chief executive does, we can’t brief in the same way and have to think on our feet, work the room and talk to as many people as possible.
Would you like to see more done to support fundraisers? If so, what?
I think we need more support and protection from the regulating authorities. As the charity sector has grown we have become more visible and therefore more vulnerable. We do good work and are professional as a sector, so I think it is important for that to be recognised. There will always be mavericks and those who try to bend the rules in all sectors, but it is important for our professionalism, hard work and impact to be recognised.