Fundraiser of the Week: Kate Dolleymore of Beanstalk

The philanthropy manager at the national literacy charity talks about donor involvement, humility and The Twits

What is the best thing about your role?

Getting to meet some incredibly inspiring people. The world seems a scary place at the moment, but when you work in an organisation such as Beanstalk, you can’t help but feel positive about the future.

Working for a medium-sized charity has its advantages: I get to meet wonderful volunteers who deliver the support in primary schools and often visit schools to observe sessions with children, which is always a highlight of my week.

I also love that my role gives me the opportunity to get to know and work with our fantastic funders, without whom we wouldn’t be able to do anything.

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

Since I started in the charity sector more than 10 years ago, I think the level of involvement that donors want has changed – gone are the days of someone handing you a cheque and not expecting contact for a year.

Now donors want to be involved, whether it’s to volunteer with the organisation in some capacity, host an event for us or advise on an area of our work. I think this is an incredibly positive thing and means you can really build up a meaningful relationship with donors, who often feel much more engaged when they can support with more than just a donation.

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

Passion for the cause is always a key element of any good fundraiser for me. I think the ability to tell compelling stories is crucial as well – it doesn’t always have to be personal, but being able to say you’ve seen the work of the charity first hand is much more impactful than handing someone a leaflet or dictating some statistics.

Some humility is also crucial – you might not be the best person to build a relationship with a donor, so you need to able to let go (even if you’ve done all the work) and let the chief executive or someone in operations engage them.

What reaction do you get when you tell people you are a fundraiser?

I think, especially in the older generation, there is a tendency to think you must be a volunteer and all you do is have coffee mornings or rattle a tin on a street corner, which just shows how far the sector has come.

Favourite book and why?

My son is nearly five and loves when I read to him. I’ve been reading all my old favourites to him and we’ve both particularly enjoyed The Twits by Roald Dahl. He loves the tricks they play on each other – I just hope he doesn’t try anything on me!

Do you tweet and why?

I do, professionally. I think it provides incredible access to an audience that you wouldn’t otherwise have. I’ve tweeted famous authors, sports personalities and actors and had direct responses and even got meetings out of it. 

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