Fundraiser of the Week: Jane Beaven of the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, Putney

The director of fundraising and communications at the medical charity talks about meeting beneficiaries, the GDPR and competitiveness among charities

Jane Beaven
Jane Beaven

What is the best thing about your role?

The variety is great, but the best thing for me is being on site with our patients and residents, because you get to know them really well and become very fond of them. It also puts things into perspective when parts of the job are challenging.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

I would say the competitiveness in the charity world. We are not a well-known brand or cause, which sometimes makes it harder for us to fundraise and compete with bigger charities. Invariably, when a funder visits and sees the wonderful work we do and how we help our patients and residents – and, indeed, their families – they often become long-standing supporters. Another challenging aspect, of course, is the introduction of the GDPR and the impact this is having for us as a relatively small charity. 

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

Yes, it is much slicker, but also much more competitive. I personally think there are too many charities out there competing for the same pool of donors. I think efficiencies of scale could be achieved by more mergers occurring. I also think the larger charities with huge marketing budgets have unintentionally made it harder for smaller charities to attract support.

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

Know your cause and make sure it personally resonates. Know your patients and residents personally and know what you raise funds for in terms of projects and funding posts. And when it comes to funding applications – you win some, you lose some and it’s never in the bank until the cheque clears! Be friendly, open and transparent with your supporters and network well.

How did you get into fundraising?

After studying international relations at Keele University, I spent five years at Aviva on its graduate scheme, becoming a client manager, which was a great foundation for working in the charity sector. I moved to Macmillan Cancer Support at a time when charities were really raising their game in terms of professionalism and working more strategically, particularly with corporate partners. I also find it personally rewarding that fundraising does a little good in the world and makes people’s lives easier in some way.

How did you find the process of preparing for the GDPR?

It was hugely important for us because our database is relatively small and has a natural shrinkage each year of about 20 per cent, so it is vital that we grow and replenish our database. We started preparing for the GDPR well in advance and have now moved to magazine inserts to try to maintain our growth. We will follow closely what the sector trends are in the coming year.

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