Fundraiser of the Week: Caroline Cox of Full Circle Fund Therapies

The fundraising consultant at the hospital patient support charity talks to Third Sector about running your own business and small charity challenges

Caroline Cox
Caroline Cox

How did you get into fundraising?

I have been in fundraising for more than 22 years, and it wasn’t planned. I am an art and education graduate and had my own outlet selling unique pieces. It was wonderful having my own business and it taught me a lot, but working on my own didn’t suit me at all. I wanted to be part of something fun and rewarding. I saw a job advertised for a part-time assistant to join a local hospital charity, mainly responsible for running one event, applied and ended up staying for six years. I eventually closed my business and joined full time.

What is the best thing about your role?

I love being involved in so many different aspects of fundraising. Much of my frustration in previous roles was being pigeonholed in a single discipline such as major grants or community. With Full Circle, I can be planning a quiz night in the morning, then writing a grant application in the afternoon. I love the variety of the role and being hands-on. It’s a small charity with huge ambition and an even bigger impact on the patients who benefit from its care. I am able to guide and lead on a number of areas and am given the opportunity to bring my own style and creativity to many activities. It helps that Suzanne, the chief executive, and I are on the same page with our vision for the charity and how it should look externally. We both have creative backgrounds and aesthetics are as important as words. It’s a very personal role and wonderful to see first-hand where every penny we raise goes. There aren’t many charities where working feels like being part of a family. I’m very lucky.

If you work for a small charity, what particular fundraising challenges do they face?

Being smaller and more community-centred means we have a much lower public profile, but definitely more of a personal relationship with our supporters, and they are perhaps the more loyal for it.

What reaction do you get from people when you tell them you are a fundraiser?

It has improved enormously over the years, but at first I was generally regarded as a "woman who lunched". There was a general sense that fundraising was all about organising summer fetes and simply "doing good". I got so used to it that I would often play along just for fun. Now, however, when I tell people I’m a fundraiser they either think it’s jolly noble or, with the increase in school fundraising and extensive charity support groups, everyone feels that they can be a fundraiser because they have done a bit themselves. There is so much more to it – much more strategy, campaigning and legal issues than anyone understands, and it has huge implications for society. I don’t think we are quite there yet.

Tell us a joke

A development director found a magic lamp. A genie appeared and offered one wish. The DD said: "I wish for a million pounds to support my organisation." "Done," said the genie. "Go to your office tomorrow and it’ll be there." When she opened the door of her office the next day, three million binder clips fell out. "What on earth is this?" she asked the genie. "I asked for a million pounds." "Yes," said the genie, "but you didn’t specify that it couldn’t be in-kind…"

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