Fundraiser of the Week: Charlotte von Sicard of Wessex Cancer Trust

The regional community manager at the cancer charity talks to Third Sector about time constraints, public mistrust and flying

Charlotte von Sicard
Charlotte von Sicard

What is the most challenging aspect of your role? 

Time. There are always too many things to do in too little time. Sometimes we need to take a step back from what we're working on, really look at it and decide whether it's worth the energy/time/money/commitment you're putting in. That's much easier said than done.

Do you think fundraising has changed since you have been involved with it, and how?

Absolutely! Donors are demanding more clarity about where their donations are going, who they're helping and how. There's also an environment of mistrust in the general public – you need only look at the recent statistics from Charities Aid Foundation research to see that – and because of that the sector has had to be become more robust, which can only be a good thing. As a local charity, we are lucky in that we can be in the heart of communities. What we've done over recent months is to invest in that fundraising structure by putting regional fundraisers in place. They are amazing at spotting opportunities and representing how we help each community. 

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

Study, read, follow. What I've realised is that, no matter who you speak to, everyone approaches fundraising slightly differently, so it's about finding out what works for you and your charity. Look at your database: where are your current supporters? Who are your volunteers? Has everyone been approached in the right way and maximised?

Most recently for me, it's been on Twitter and LinkedIn that I've had quite a positive reaction to direct messages, so try that too. I'd also suggest reading The Fundraiser Who Wanted More, by Rob Woods. It reinvigorated my love of this sector and all we can achieve. Look at your competitors to see what they're doing. And are there any local groups that often support your type of charity? If so, get in touch. I am constantly taking screen shots of opportunities on Twitter and sending them to my team, to the extent that it has become a bit of a joke. But it does pay off.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

I had a short-lived dream of becoming a tightrope walker, and I used to practise on some paving on our driveway. After that passed, I wanted to be a writer, so writing this is in part fulfilling that!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? 

To fly – hands down. Travelling is something I love to do, so I could see the world more easily. Plus, I'm a bit of a time-optimist, so I'm always rushing to get to my next appointment on time. Being able to fly there would take away the rush.

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