Fundraiser of the Week: Elsa Scott of London Youth

The fundraising manager of the charity for young people talks to Third Sector about spinning plates, period novels and collaborative working

Elsa Scott
Elsa Scott

How long have you been in your role?

I’ve been working with London Youth for eight months.

What is the best thing about your role?

As fundraising manager I have fingers in many pies, from corporate fundraising to event fundraising and trusts and foundations bid-writing work. When you’ve got an overview of different income streams it is very satisfying to see the opportunities for one to feed into the other to maximise the potential of any one prospect. My team is equal parts supportive and hands-off, which means you can plough your own furrow.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

Spinning plates: where there’s so much opportunity it can be easy to dive down fundraising rabbit holes.

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

Every industry changes and fundraising is no different. I like the proliferation of collaborative working that we’ve been seeing. Charities with a common purpose are willing to do the hard groundwork to present bigger, better proposals for real change, and it’s good to see some funders encouraging this.

What is your charity’s main income stream? What are the positive aspects of that and what are some of the challenges?

A big part of our income is from trusts and foundations, and we have built some excellent relationships with key funders who share our vision for a better future for young Londoners. The flipside to having one very strong income stream is that we could be exposed to risk and, like many charities, we are diversifying. At the moment the focus is on corporate partnerships as a means to diversify income and, at the same time, amplify awareness of the work we do with more than 320 community youth organisations across London.

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

Prioritise building relationships with your colleagues, because a strong fundraiser is someone who can call on support across the organisation. Get out from behind your desk, meet people and evangelise.

What do you do to switch off from work?

I’ve just moved out of London and the best thing in the world is to take a step out of the gate at the end of my garden into the forest. I’m also a big fan of sitting outside the local canalside pub with a glass of white wine.

What’s your favourite book and why?

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. I like a period novel and Thackeray skewers society nicely in this one.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

There were vague ideas of journalism or the law, but I’m still finding out.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Easy. Invisibility. I love watching life unfold around me and it would be great to be an unobserved fly on the wall – I would be less interested in a Cabinet meeting than I would be in listening to a family sitting down for Sunday lunch. I suppose that’s why I like period novels: they often describe the little rituals and minutiae that make up life.

What keeps you awake at night?

Worrying about being a failure.

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