Fundraiser of the Week: Heather Smith of Harrison's Fund

The head of fundraising at the charity which funds research into the fatal muscle-wasting condition Duchenne muscular dystrophy talks about making change quickly, inspirational beneficiaries and teleportation

Heather Smith
Heather Smith

What is the best thing about your role?

I love working for a small charity which has incredibly determined supporters. Harrison’s Fund was founded by Alex Smith when his son, Harrison, was diagnosed with Duchenne in 2011. Since then, our income has grown but we’ve remained a very family-focused and friendly charity. I find the families we work with, some of whom have only received their heart-breaking diagnosis months before, the most inspiring people I’ve ever met and supporting them to raise money and sharing in their achievements keeps me passionate about my role.

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

Try as many different types of fundraising as you can. Get involved in other team’s initiatives and events and join a variety of not-for-profit forums. When you first start fundraising it can be easy to settle on one area and then to become a specialist. If you’re aspiration is to become a team leader or head of fundraising one day then you’re going to need a breadth of knowledge and in my opinion having involvement in a variety of projects is the best way to achieve this.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I was really interested in politics at school and took a degree in the subject. I did a couple of internships for an MP and sadly discovered that making change is actually really hard to do. In a charity setting I’ve found it much quicker and easier to genuinely help people.

How did you get into fundraising?

I was really fortunate to secure a three-month placement at a local charity while at university. The charity was growing and I was working on its gala ball - special events have always been a particular love of mine. Once I finished my degree, I applied for fundraising co-ordinator role at the charity.

How do you switch off from work?

I enjoy spending time with my one-year-old son. He keeps me pretty busy on my days off with swimming, soft play and baby sensory. It's a good way to completely focus on non-work things.

What’s your favourite book and why?

My favourite book is The Rain Before It Falls by Jonathan Coe. It's a really moving story following several generations of women as they uncover some tragic events in their families. It has some surprising twists and turns. I like the simplicity of it and it's the only book I've read more than once.

If you could have any superpower what would it be?

My chosen superpower would be teleportation - and the ability to bring people with me when I teleported. It would allow me to get to a beautiful sunny white sand beach in a second and instantly get home after a night out.


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