How did you get into fundraising?
I’ve been in fundraising for 11 years and started off in face-to-face. I highly recommend everyone goes out with a face-to-face team for the day. The personal conversations, the amazing things you hear from supporters, as well as the amount of resilience you will build up are all invaluable to being a great fundraiser.
I then did a voluntary internship for eight months, learning about different fundraising disciplines. I learned how much I love inspiring people to give or fundraise for their causes.
What is the best thing about your role?
One of the best things is the diversity. I’m able to draw on my varied experience and expertise to work on a lot of exciting projects. In any week I might be on the phone to our supporters, interviewing a teacher who has been helped by us so I can tell their story authentically in an appeal, or emailing comedians for our fundraising comedy night event The Funny Thing About Teaching.
What is your charity’s main income stream? What are the positive aspects of that, and what are some of the challenges?
Our main income comes from our regular donors, most of whom give through their pensions or union contributions. This is different from most individual giving teams, but the principles remain the same. We look after our donors and inspire them to want to continue giving. Many of our donors have been giving for decades and, in our recent supporter survey, many donors said how proud they were to give to us. The challenge is finding new donors. A key part of my role is to diversify income, which is why I started implementing fundraising events such as our comedy night, which was a huge success.
Do you think fundraising has changed since you have been involved with it, and how?
The difficult press the charity sector has had recently has made some donors wary. They are also savvier and expect authentic communications. More than ever, relationship fundraising is fundamental because, at its heart, fundraising should remain true to what it is – a way of connecting individuals to change lives. I believe we do this well at Ed Support. We wouldn’t exist without our donors, most of whom are education professionals or retired teachers themselves, and every communication reiterates this.
What qualities do you believe are important in a good fundraiser?
Resilience. Fundraising is tough and you need to be able to view the "no"s as learning opportunities, not failures.
Positivity. When faced with so many awful things happening in the world at the moment, you need to hold on to your resounding faith in the goodness of humanity, because together we can make a difference.
And a good sense of humour because when you or your colleague is having one of "those" days, it’s important to be able to look for the silver lining.
Do you tweet and why?
I do, from @FundraiserSarah. It’s a great way to keep up with sector news and fundraising innovation. I often RT @EdSupportUK – especially our recent videos from stand-up comedians sharing their favourite school and teaching moments.