Fundraiser of the Week: Eifron Hopper of the RNLI

The legacy manager at the lifeboat charity talks to Third Sector about learning from your peers and telling the right story

Eifron Hopper
Eifron Hopper

How long have you been in your role?

I’ve been at the RNLI, where I manage the team that handles legacy administration, for about 18 months, but I have been working in charities since 1993. Over the years I have been responsible for legacy fundraising and fundraising generally, as well as legacy administration, in a number of charities. I have always seen it as desperately important for all of these disciplines to work together in an integrated fashion if a charity's fundraising is to reach its full potential.

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

The fundraising world is much more collaborative that you might think. We can all learn a lot from our peers, which is one reason why bodies such as the Institute of Legacy Management, of which I’m a member, are so important. Most people in the fundraising world are very happy to share their ideas and experiences so that we can all learn from them. The trick is learning who is worth listening to and whose outpourings should be taken with a pinch of salt.

What’s your favourite book and why?

It has to be To Kill a Mockingbird. It has lots of layers, but what has always appealed to me is that Atticus Finch is an honest lawyer striving to do the right thing and behave with courage and integrity, in the face of ignorance, intolerance and prejudice. I won’t pretend that working in charities in the 21st century is anything like working in the American deep south in the 1930s, but it does offer some sort of moral compass that comes in useful more often than you might imagine.

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

Probably the old adage that "people give to people". It is very easy to get caught up in spreadsheets, donor profiles and marketing plans and forget that we really need to appeal to the heart as well as the head. Some causes are easier to relate to on an empathetic or emotional level, and some donors need numbers and facts more than others. But, whatever our cause and whoever our donor, the stories we can tell are often our most potent weapons. My family will tell you how many times I rang up, in tears, to give something to Comic Relief every time it showed the film of a young girl who was a carer for her parent. Now, I’m just a soppy old so-and-so and not a hard-nosed businessman or battle-hardened grant-giver, but I believe there are very few people who won’t be moved to action when we tell them the right story.

Tell us a joke

My nine-year-old step-daughter loves telling people that "someone who cooks meat and peas in the same pot is very unhygienic". I can't think who told her that one.

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