Fundraiser of the Week: Richard James of Music as Therapy International

The fundraiser at the charity that uses music to work with vulnerable people talks to Third Sector

Richard James
Richard James

How long have you been in your role?

I joined Music as Therapy International at the beginning of 2016 as the charity’s first dedicated fundraiser. Besides increasing and diversifying our income, a large part of my role has been to formalise and implement a fundraising strategy to provide clarity on our activities.

What is the best thing about your role?

I'm the only fundraiser in our organisation, so the best thing about my role is the breadth of work I am able to get involved in. From nurturing major donor relationships to running events and overseeing trust and foundation income, as well as developing our external communications and public relations activities to complement all these efforts, I’m able to drive and shape our efforts every day.

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

Be prepared for failure because it’s part and parcel of the job, but remember to celebrate your wins. In a role where you have to be able to take a fair amount of rejection, if you’re not careful your wins can be fleeting in the pursuit of the next income source. Take the time to savour your successes to ensure you don’t get lost on the treadmill.

What’s your favourite book and why?

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has a special place in my heart. It’s a beautiful account of a father-son relationship in the bleakest of situations, but it’s also an incredible exercise in the craft of concise writing. Appreciating the impact so few words can have is something that constantly influences my approach when putting together funding applications, especially those with word limits.

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

Don’t be shy about blowing your own trumpet. Opening applications with a line like "this year we have been amazing" might not be your typical approach, but if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing and what the charity has achieved, it’s unlikely that anyone else will be.

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