Fundraiser of the week: Vanessa Chang of Cafod

The individual giving manager at the Catholic international development charity talks to Third Sector about being a people person and the importance of recognising a good story

Vanessa Chang
Vanessa Chang

What is the best thing about your role?

What I enjoy is that we have the chance to be involved in both the creative side but also the numbers side. It’s nice to have the variety of looking at fundraising propositions, but also to be involved in the numbers side through forecasting or post-campaign analysis. Having worked for Cafod for eight years, one of the things I love about my job is also being around colleagues who are motivated by and truly believe in the cause. You wouldn’t believe the difference that makes.

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

Hearing a story and being able to see what fundraising potential it has is probably the most important thing. You also need to be a people person because you work with lots of different teams, whether that’s designers and writers who produce the fundraising materials, people who work in the projects/services teams who you’ll need to get case studies and stories about our work from, or external organisations such as printers or other suppliers. Finally, being good at numbers always helps.

Which fundraiser do you most admire and why?

Ken Burnett. I’ve been on some of his courses and always feel re-energised afterwards. He helped set up the Commission on the Donor Experience, and I’d really recommend trawling through some of the reports that have come out of it. There is something on pretty much every aspect of fundraising. Or just read any of his books.

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

It is a real mixture. Some people don’t really understand what it means. A lot of people think the money just rolls in from street collections, so they picture me shaking a can at a station. When I explain it’s similar to what would be a marketing role in a different sector, they start to understand it a bit more, and often say they wish they could do something they believed in too.

What’s your favourite book and why?

Anything written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I love everything about her.

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

Tell a story and tell it well.

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