Who would be a fundraiser these days? Judging by this year’s Fundraisers: The New Generation list, an inspiring group of people determined to make a difference. This year’s winners come from a wide range of backgrounds and causes, but they all have one thing in common: they’re intent on raising the funds necessary to help charities improve the world.
Those who made the list this year include Katie Chandler, who started fundraising in her teens to help autistic young people like her brothers, and has since gone on to excel as a fundraiser at the single-parent charity Gingerbread, and John Dunford, a digital specialist who has helped international aid agencies to radically improve their digital giving.
In order to impress our expert panel of judges, the fundraisers had to answer five questions in their online entries about their career motivations, their biggest successes to date and their hopes for the fundraising sector in the future. And impress they did. The world of fundraising will be brighter with these fundraisers leading the way.
Aimee Castle: Corporate partnership officer, Girlguiding
Aimee Castle wanted to become a corporate partnership fundraiser because she believed it suited her "competitive nature, opportunistic eye and desire to cultivate relationships".
She joined Girlguiding in 2016 and says in her entry form that she is driven by the charity’s aim for all girls to have the same opportunities as boys. Since joining she has taken over managing its relationship with a major firm to engage more young women in engineering. Castle says that through her fundraising and account-management skills, she has helped to increase the financial value of the partnership by 60 per cent.
She’s also been developing her experience of acquiring new business and recently helped to secure for Girlguiding a significant new financial corporate partner.
Lauren Ambrose, philanthropy and partnerships manager at Girlguiding, says Castle is a "fundraising powerhouse and future force to be reckoned with". She is particularly adept at coming up with solutions and new ideas, says Ambrose.
In five years’ time, Castle would still like to be working for a gender equality charity. As for the sector more generally, she’d like charities to become "more innovative, fast-paced and collaborative".
She says: "Being overly risk-averse restricts charities from generating income and, ultimately, from helping their causes."
Katie Chandler: Fundraising assistant, Gingerbread
Katie Chandler’s younger brothers both have autism and epilepsy and, when still in her teens, she raised more than £2,000 for the National Autistic Society and Epilepsy Action.
She was inspired by the fundraisers she encountered and, after university, became an intern at the sudden infant death syndrome charity the Lullaby Trust before joining the single-parent families charity Gingerbread as a fundraising assistant in 2016. At Gingerbread, she has concentrated on individual giving and events and community fundraising. She exceeded her first-year financial target by 10 per cent.
Since then, she has worked on a range of the charity’s digital products and was involved with launch of The Big Ginger Bake, which encouraged the public and organisations to host bake sales in aid of Gingerbread throughout November.
In the next five years, she wants to develop her own experience, but also to see the fundraising culture at Gingerbread flourish. "The ethos of those within the fundraising sector drives me to be a better person and work to keep the fundraising sector thriving," she says in her awards entry.
Liz Draper: Head of corporate partnerships, Hull UK City of Culture 2017
"I didn’t consciously choose to become a fundraiser – the job found me," Draper says in her awards entry.
Draper wanted to be part of the Hull UK City of Culture 2017 project in order to give back to her home city and be involved in its resurgence. She joined the team as a personal assistant and two-and-a-half years ago was offered a role as a development manager, looking after corporate partnerships. "Working on such a high-profile project with no direct fundraising experience, I was thrown straight in at the deep end," she says in her entry form. "But I realised I had found my professional niche."
Within a year she was head of corporate partnerships, leading income generation and relationship management for more than 50 corporate partnerships worth £7.6m.
Standing among the crowd at the opening of the city of culture, "it was both humbling and inspiring to witness the public reaction, and to realise the contribution my work had made to bringing it to fruition. As fundraisers, we strive to support causes we believe in, and this moment will stay with me throughout my career."
Her ambition is to become a leading figure in arts fundraising, and to bring more collaboration between arts charities and the business sector.
John Dunford: Campaigns lead, The Developer Society
Digital-savvy John Dunford began his fundraising career in 2015, advising Oxfam on best digital practices for online giving and lead generation. From there, he moved to the Syria Campaign, serving as public campaigner and digital lead. His focus on a lead-generation strategy in partnership with the online content platforms Buzzfeed, Upworthy and VT paid off, leading to the amount raised through online fundraising to increase by 25 times to more than $10m (£8.3m) and the number of donors to increase 30-fold.
In his current role at the Developer Society, a not-for-profit digital agency that works with charities, he’s part of a pro-bono project to transform the online donation process for Help Refugees, an offshoot of Prism the Gift Fund.
The new purpose-built platform Dunford helped to develop allowed Help Refugees to create new pages, enabled supporters to create their own pages for free and take donations in multiple currencies. In the first two months, the organisation has taken in more than £150,000 in three currencies.
Dunford says he wants to help charities to access better technology. "I want to see a democratisation of the technology needed for digital fundraising," he says. "By working to open access to key technologies, I want to help charities and NGOs to take in more donations with easier-to-use systems costing a fraction of current tech."
Edward Harvey: Development associate, Cause4
Edward Harvey first became interested in fundraising at university after helping to secure £4,000 from its internal philanthropic fund to establish a women’s cricket team. "From that point on, I wanted to be a fundraiser because of how rewarding it was when you got it right," he says.
He joined Cause4, a fundraising agency, a year ago and helps charities to put together fundraising bids to trusts, foundations, corporates and individuals, as well as carrying out benchmarking and research projects. He estimates he has raised more than £700,000 for clients in his first year.
Annie Jarvis, development manager at Cause4, says Harvey has already displayed the qualities needed to become a fundraising leader. "His ambition, dedication and passion make him an exceptional member of our team," she says.
Harvey says he’d like the sector to become braver. "The sector is under a lot of pressure, with the funding environment becoming really competitive, but demand for charitable services increasing," he says. "I think that by being bold and showing their value, charities will help to rebuild public trust in their operations."
Evie Hutt: Campaign fundraising executive, Save the Children UK
Evie Hutt’s interest in fighting poverty started when she worked at a prestigious school in India. Driving past the slums every day, she saw the injustice of poverty and its impact on children. Having worked for a few charities as a part-time fundraiser at university, she decided to pursue this as a career, joining the disability charity AbleChildAfrica two years ago.
Despite being the charity’s only fundraiser at the time, she was able to put together its first full team for the London Marathon in several years. Under her stewardship, the runners raised more than £90,000, which was £30,000 more than the target.
Last year she joined Save the Children as campaign fundraising assistant and has become a "rising star" on that team, according to Brea Thibodeau, the charity’s campaign fundraising manager. She was promoted to campaign fundraising executive after just seven months.
In her short time at Save the Children UK, she has worked on its Christmas Jumper Day campaign, helping to streamline processes to ensure "more cohesion" across its campaigns, she says.
In five years’ time, she’d like to be working in a managerial role on a new and innovative mass-participation fundraising campaign, she says.
Marta Jimenez Varela: Fundraising officer, Shaftesbury Young People
When Marta Jiménez Varela finished her degree in economics, she wanted to find a job that would use her qualification but also contribute to building a fairer, more sustainable society. She realised fundraising was the perfect fit and joined the charity Shaftesbury Young People as a fundraising administrator in 2016.
The charity, which supports young people in care, hadn’t had a fundraiser for five years, so she set about creating a fundraising department by developing a framework to apply for grants, preparing the charity’s approach to donor relationships ahead of the General Data Protection Regulation and increasing income from events and trusts.
The trustees promoted her to fundraising officer after a year in the post. "Being the sole fundraiser is a challenge, but I am pleased I am part of a very cohesive team and I can count on their advice and support," she says.
Sarah Lake, chief operating officer at SYP, says: "I am sure she has found her role daunting at times, but she has never let herself be overcome by the challenge. Marta’s internal resourcefulness convinces me she will be a powerful fundraising leader in the future."
Jiménez Varela says she is keen to learn more about the broader science of philanthropy and is considering studying for a Master’s degree or another professional fundraising qualification.
Ahmed Khan: Senior area fundraising manager for south England, Mencap
In the two years since he left the commercial sector, Kahn has raised more than £350,000 at two charities – TeachFirst and Mencap. "In my previous roles, the profit went to investors I’d never meet," he says. "I realised I wanted my job to mean something more and to contribute to society in a positive way."
Now, he says, he’s loving the challenge and the engagement with supporters and volunteers he’s found in his new career. His biggest financial success to date came from his work on Mencap’s corporate team, helping to secure a charity-of-the-year partnership worth £200,000 over two years with a leading recruitment company. But he is also proud of the £100,000 he helped to raise when he joined Mencap’s newly established community fundraising team. Ryan Pitts, product lead for community fundraising at Mencap, says: "He is a bright, articulate and forward-thinking individual with a passion for fundraising."
Khan says achieving such results has been hard. "But through tenacity, the right attitude and being a team player I have achieved my personal income target. We started with nothing, but now we’re a team with ambitions."
He wants to be a team leader in three to five years’ time and make a mark on the charity world: "I am in this to further my career but, most importantly, raise funds for causes that change people’s lives."
Amy Petterson: Relationship manager, Guide Dogs
After leaving university, Amy Petterson found herself miserable, jumping from job to job, trying to find her feet. In her spare time, she volunteered as a fundraiser and it was one of the ladies she volunteered with who suggested that she should consider fundraising as a career. She spent six months in a fundraising-related admin role before landing a part-time job as a community fundraiser at Guide Dogs.
She was taken on full time and then became a community fundraising development officer 18 months ago. She has recently been promoted to relationship manager. "I am proud of the small things, of making a difference," she says. "I’m proud of ‘ace-ing’ fundraising targets and celebrating every success."
Her proudest moment was winning the "staff member of the year" category at the Guide Dogs Annual Awards in 2016, after volunteering to be a sighted guide and helping a blind man to achieve his dream of taking part in a 100km trek.
In the future, Petterson says, she’d love the sector to have more of a grass-roots pathway: "If I knew that this amazing job was a possibility when I was at university, I would have jumped at the opportunity."
Giulia Vallocchia: Ambassador manager, ActionAid
Giulia Vallocchia grew up in seven different countries, which left her with an understanding of the challenges and struggles people face across the globe, a desire to make a difference and an ability to develop relationships with people from a wide range of backgrounds.
She joined ActionAid as a major gifts fundraiser a year ago. Her proudest moment so far was securing £200,000 from a donor who wanted to support the charity’s Not This Girl campaign to tackle violence against girls in Kenya. The gift was match-funded by the British government and, with Gift Aid, will total £450,000.
She has helped to develop the charity’s Funding Futures network, a new programme that hopes to engage the next generation of philanthropists. She has also taken ownership of the Ambassador Network, a group of long-standing donors giving £5,000-plus.
Vallocchia says she feels incredibly lucky to be working in a profession that is so fulfilling and stimulating. "I wouldn’t change it for anything," she says.
Over the next five years, she says, she hopes to become an accomplished fundraiser and develop her management and leadership skills.