Fundraiser of the Week: Graeme Newton of World Vision UK

The director of fundraising at World Vision UK talks child sponsorship, running and the need to surprise supporters

Graeme Newton
Graeme Newton

What is the best thing about your role?

I work with an exceptional team and I’m constantly amazed at the quality of work they produce. 

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

Yes, definitely. The public and our supporters (rightly) want much flexibility in how they give and much greater evidence of their impact. 

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

Child Sponsorship is a fantastic fundraising product. Our sponsors get real insight into the life of "their" child and the child’s community through individual videos, photos and letters, which produce a deep and lasting connection. This deep connection allows us to commit confidently to 15-year development programmes. One of our biggest challenges is how we deliver Child Sponsorship programmes in the less stable, more fragile environments in which we are now working.

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

Be very curious.

What do you do to switch off from work?

I run and I run, and I run some more. 

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Professional sportsman. Still working out why that never happened… 

How did you get into fundraising?

I became increasingly discontent in marketing roles where driving profit was everything. I needed the best years of my working life to affect people positively. 

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

Belief. I passionately believe in the transformational power of fundraising (for supporters and beneficiaries) and believe that we need to maintain this belief through challenging times. However, that doesn’t mean that we keep plodding on the same way we always have. I want to surprise our supporters with creativity and innovation in the way we raise money and deliver programmes. 

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

We will have no impact without our supporters. Never take them for granted and do all you can to involve them and help them understand the impact that they are having through their giving. 

What qualities do you believe are important in a good fundraiser? 

Good fundraisers must have cultivated a deep passion for the cause, are curious with data, bring solutions rather than problems, love to achieve, are responsible for their development and know that it’s not all about them but rather about others – their colleagues, supporters and beneficiaries.

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