Fundraiser of the Week: Ashley Weedon of Diverse Abilities

The donor stewardship manager at the Dorset-based disabilities and learning difficulty charity talks to Third Sector about parkrun, standing out from the crowd and charity sector confidence

Ashley Weedon
Ashley Weedon

How long have you been in your role?

I have had several roles at Diverse Abilities, including community manager, events manager and, more recently, managing the fundraising team in a maternity cover role. The role of donor stewardship manager is a new one for me and I’m very excited about it. It enables me to bring together all my experience and take a bird’s-eye view of the donor journey to make sure we are giving our supporters the very best experience from the moment they start engaging with us.

What is the best thing about your role?

The diversity. Our supporters come from such a wide range of backgrounds and motivations. Support can come from anywhere, from schoolchildren doing bake sales and cycle rides or Rotary Clubs running swimming competitions to accountants trekking up mountains, banks offering their expert advice and local jewellers sponsoring our events. Regardless of background or motivation, I get to work with some amazingly inspiring people, and I really enjoy thinking of creative ways to engage and inspire our supporters to get involved and do more with us.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

I think standing out from the crowd in the current environment. There are so many good causes out there, and all with ever more sophisticated and creative ways of raising funds. It’s not always easy to stand out and be different.

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

I think the best advice I could give is listen to what your supporters want and don’t make assumptions. Make sure you are passionate about the cause you are working for – if you’re not, it will show. And, finally, question everything and don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t just do what has been done before or what you see other charities doing. It’s more important than ever before to think of new ways to get your message across to build relationships with your supporters.

What do you do to switch off from work?

I like to do the local parkrun on a Saturday. It’s a great, feelgood way to start the weekend and I love the ethos behind it: everyone, regardless of age or ability, is encouraged to give it a go – and it's free. I also belong to a local community choir. For me, you can’t beat a bit of music therapy after a busy day at work. I also like to go to the local theatre whenever it’s possible.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for the sector in the year ahead? 

Rebuilding confidence. That said, I think we have an exciting time ahead. The new General Data Protection Regulation is inevitably going to put great pressure on the sector, but I think it’s also a great opportunity for us all to think about how we engage with our supporters and how we build relationships in a different, potentially less conventional, way.

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