Fundraiser of the Week: Yvonne Dickson of Bloodwise

The head of regional fundraising and supporter relations at the blood cancer research charity talks about great teams, meeting celebrities and the importance of a sense of humour

Yvonne Dickson
Yvonne Dickson

How long have you been in your role?

I started at Bloodwise 12 years ago when I set up the Scotland office. Over the years my role has developed: initially I managed three regional managers based around the UK, then five years ago I became head of regional fundraising. Last year I also took on the line management of the charity’s supporter relations team, and I now manage a team of 19.

Before Bloodwise I worked as community investment consultant with a large pension and assurance company. I managed charity of the year partnerships, staff fundraising and its staff volunteering programme, including secondments to charities.

What is the best thing about your role?

The variety of the work, meeting so many interesting people and, ultimately, my team – a great bunch of people with varying skills and expertise, but with a common aim of generating income and giving supporters and donors the best experience they can.

I also get to attend some amazing events, such as the annual Christmas with the Stars concert at the Royal Albert Hall and, last year, the opening night of Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s musical The Girls in London. Over the years I’ve met a variety of lovely people, including the original Calendar Girls and Outlander star Sam Heughan (who is now Bloodwise’s Scotland President).

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

Get as much experience as you can before specialising in a particular area. Starting out in a supporter relations team environment is one of the best ways to learn about an organisation. And find a cause that you are really passionate about – it makes asking for money so much easier.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A social worker. That seems a strange choice for an eight-year-old, but my friend at school was in foster care and her social worker was a lovely lady. I decided not to continue down that path in the end because, when I was a grown up, I realised that in reality a social worker’s role is extremely difficult and I would probably have wanted to take a lot of people home with me.

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

An interest in people, a curious mind and the ability to listen and ask the right questions. You also need patience, a great sense of humour and the ability to laugh and move on when things don’t go the way you want them to.

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