Fundraiser of the Week: Laura Howard-Jones of Pancreatic Cancer UK

The head of philanthropy and partnerships at the charity discusses spinning plates and what impresses fundraising bosses

Laura Howard-Jones
Laura Howard-Jones

How did you get into fundraising?

I started off temping at Diabetes UK as the PA to the director of fundraising and admin support to the chief executive. The PA role gave me great experience and an insight into the different income streams at the charity. It also enabled me to take on some discrete projects of my own. After a while, a role came up in the corporate team helping to manage a big charity-of-the-year relationship. I got the job and absolutely loved it. An initial three-month contract turned into four years.

How long have you been in your role?

I joined Pancreatic Cancer UK last September. My role is to lead the high-value fundraising team and maximise our income from corporate relationships, trusts and foundations, and philanthropists. 

What is the best thing about your role?

I enjoy working with and getting to know our supporters. Many of them have lost loved ones to pancreatic cancer. Only 7 per cent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive for five years. Our supporters are resolute in their commitment to us and in their determination to improve the future for others affected by the disease.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

You have to keep many plates spinning! We are a small team with big ambitions, so a big part of my role is prioritising effectively and ensuring the team is focused on the things that are going to make the biggest difference. 

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

To take advantage of all opportunities that come your way. It’s important to learn as much as you can, even if you don’t see a task or project as being directly relevant to your role at that point. It’s important to be a team player. You should be willing to help your colleagues out, especially at big events such as a marathon or a gala ball. Not only does this help you forge strong relationships with your wider team, but you’ll also get the chance to meet and chat to your supporters and beneficiaries face to face. Your colleagues will also owe you a favour in return – you never know when you might need it. 

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

The best fundraisers I’ve ever worked with have got a few things in common: they have drive and resilience, and they are great relationship managers who are able to build rapport with a whole range of people. They can also read people and situations very quickly and can adapt accordingly. Good fundraisers are passionate about their cause and really connect with it emotionally.

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