Fundraiser of the Week: Lorainne Nicholls of Mencap

The fundraising team assistant at the learning disability charity talks to Third Sector about being creative, using your contacts and why fundraising is like training for a marathon

Lorainne Nicholls
Lorainne Nicholls

What is the best thing about your role?

Mencap has been picked as the official charity of the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon. I’m really enjoying calling London Marathon runners to welcome them to Team Mencap and to let them know that we’re always here to help them with anything to do with fundraising.

People tell me they’re running for Mencap because it’s a good cause for people with learning disabilities and  they want to raise as much money as possible.

I think people are supporting Mencap because they might have friends or family with learning disabilities. That’s often why people want to fundraise and help us make a difference. Many people with learning disabilities face discrimination and aren’t accepted in society. Some people think we’re different from them.

My job helps fundraisers to raise more money, and that helps the charity to make a difference.

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

Be creative. Think about doing a mix of activities, from quiz nights to bake sales as well as collections. You also need to be clear what you’re raising money for and how much you’re aiming to raise.

I fundraise for Mencap and recently helped with a collection at Canary Wharf. We raised about £700 in one day. I went wearing a Mencap t-shirt so people knew who we were, and we went early to catch people rushing into work. My advice is to always be friendly and likeable.

What reaction do you get from people when you tell them you’re a fundraiser?

I have a learning disability and, when I tell people what I do, I think they are chuffed and pleased. There are five people with learning disabilities in my team. I think it’s good that people with learning disabilities are working alongside people without them because at the end of the day we’re all human and everyone is different. No one should be excluded.

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

Use your contacts and think about your interests to get people to help you. I love running: I’ve done 10k and 5k races at which I’ve raised money for Mencap. Last year, I ran a 5k race in Greenwich and recently did a 5k race in Hyde Park.

My niece did the London Marathon last year and raised £4,000 in total. Throughout the year leading up to the marathon, she did lots of fundraisers, including holding a quiz night with her family, as well as bucket collections and cake sales. It all adds up.

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

You have to be a doer, be proactive and make things happen. It’s a bit like training for a marathon: start slow and gradually build up. So do lots of little fundraisers, then build up your contacts and activities.

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