How long have you been director of fundraising at Whizz-Kidz?
I started working with Whizz-Kidz as the interim director of fundraising in January 2017 to evaluate the existing fundraising strategy and activity.
What is the best thing about the role?
The best thing is that we have a lot of opportunities to collaborate with our beneficiaries, who are often in and around the office interacting with staff. This is fantastic because it helps us to keep the voice of young wheelchair-users central to our work.
What are the most challenging things about the role?
The biggest challenge, and the most crucial part, is hiring the right people and building the right team. It’s also important to keep my staff motivated in their jobs and what they are working on. I find that regularly meeting the young people that we help is a great way to do this.
Do you rely more on grants or funds raised from the public, and why?
Whizz-Kidz started in 1990 on the back of the London Marathon – as one of our largest fundraising events of the year, it has brought in more than £20m since then, with a fantastic £1.3m raised by our runners last year alone. However, Whizz-Kidz has historically relied more on grants and corporate partnerships than on individual giving.
What advice would you give to organisations that are applying for grants?
My advice would be to pick up the phone and have a conversation with the people you are applying to. There is a bad habit nowadays of doing things by email, but I find that in conversation you can acquire more information and a better idea of what they are looking for. Most funders will get a lot of applications, but will speak to only a very small percentage of those. This not only helps you get a better idea of what they want, but also helps them to get better applications. I find that being able to personally address an application to a grant officer is much more effective.
What difference can grants make to organisations such as yours?
What’s helpful is to have a particularly enlightened funder who is happy to support our core expenditure with unrestricted funding, which covers running costs, allows us to plan for the future and lets us get on with the work we do in changing the lives of young wheelchair-users. We’ve just secured a grant like this from the People’s Postcode Lottery, but it is very unusual for a funder at its level because it usually expects to fund specific projects or programmes.