Fundraiser of the Week: Annie Whillians of Pancreatic Cancer Action

The fundraising executive at the charity that focuses on improving cancer survival rates talks to Third Sector

Annie Whillians
Annie Whillians

How long have you been in your role?

I started at Pancreatic Cancer Action in April 2018 as fundraising assistant and have since progressed to my current role, which is fundraising executive.

What advice would you give to a new fundraiser just starting out?

Cherish your fundraisers and supporters like they’re your family. Always go the extra mile for them and show them you’re willing to help and support their fundraising journey from start to finish. The personal touch really goes a long way, so take the time to write them personalised emails rather than automated responses. Handwritten letter or notes make all the difference!

What’s the best piece of fundraising advice you’ve ever been given?

"Don’t ask for a long term relationship on the first date". You can’t expect too much from donors at first. You’ve got to build trust and a strong relationship with that person or group so they fully believe in the cause and are more likely to invest their time, their support and, eventually, their funds in the organisation.

What qualities do you believe are important in a good fundraiser?

Patience, empathy and a thick skin.

How did you get into fundraising?

After working in a completely different industry at the start of my career, I wanted to try something that felt more meaningful and as if I was giving back to the world. I have been affected by pancreatic cancer after losing my grandfather to the disease in 2007, so there was an instant connection and pull on the heartstrings for me.

What do you do to switch off from work?

You can usually catch me at a music festival, a Guildford Flames ice hockey game or at the airport: I absolutely love to travel. Having seen a large part of south-east Asia, I’m a huge advocate for just getting out there and seeing what the world has to offer.

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