The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is the UK’s leading sight loss charity. Wanda Hamilton, group director of fundraising, tells Third Sector about the importance of community engagement and volunteering, and the rewarding but challenging times ahead for fundraising careers.
Why would someone want to work for the RNIB?
We are the leading sight loss charity in the sector with a fantastic leadership team. Our head office in Kings Cross has excellent transport links and we also have other offices around the country, including Birmingham and Scotland. We offer great career development opportunities both internally and externally, and testament to the RNIB being a great place to work, we have a brilliant record of employees celebrating 20 years service with us.
What exciting fundraising campaigns are you working on?
Every October we run Wear Dots Raise Lots - a fundraising campaign where we encourage people to wear dots to raise awareness and funds. We organise various running, cycling and triathlon events, as well as challenge events for those adrenaline seekers. We do a four-day Iceland Trek - a challenge where we trek through a striking mix of geothermal valleys, beautiful mountain scenery, streams and waterfalls.
What roles are you recruiting for?
We are constantly looking for talented fundraising professionals across the board. Right now we are recruiting for a fundraising fulfilment team leader, a senior supporter data officer, a senior telephone fundraiser (home-based), an LSE fundraising officer and an acquisition manager.
What kind of people make good fundraising professionals in your charity?
We are looking for passionate individuals with an ability to challenge the status quo and bring innovative ideas to the team. A good fundraising professional should have impeccable integrity and a genuine concern for people. They should be highly energetic, a hard worker with perseverance but also someone who knows when and how to listen. Experience working with under-represented groups is also useful.
What career development opportunities do you offer?
We offer team development programmes where we map out team skills and areas of development so we can implement bespoke training programmes. We offer development programmes to help officer level employees progress into managerial positions. On top of that, we have a Fundraising U programme where we train managers to develop their leadership skills and become more efficient leaders. Every new starter undergoes a day of training to understand sight loss.
How important is community engagement and volunteering?
Community engagement and support is fundamental to achieving our goals and helping us increase our reach to beneficiaries and supporters. Volunteers are extremely important to us as they are often highly engaged and committed to the outcomes of their work because they are acting on behalf of their communities out of a desire to help. They often have specialist skills that can significantly improve the quality of services and add real volume to fundraising activities.
What challenges are fundraising professionals facing?
Finding enough agencies to maintain the volume of fundraising activities required is among fundraisers’ biggest challenges. Also, in our uncertain economy, people are cautious about how they spend any disposable income, yet many charities will still be expected to raise more money than last year, or at least try to maintain their levels of income. Fundraisers also need to be aware of tighter fundraising rules, including the fundraising code to protect vulnerable people and their data.
What is the future for fundraising careers?
It’s an exciting but challenging time to be a fundraiser. With a new regulatory framework being developed and implemented, there will no doubt be continued and critical focus on fundraising methods and how charities spend donors’ money. People embarking on or progressing their fundraising careers need to stay on top of the latest regulations, generate new ideas and have the resilience to overcome the challenges.
The RNIB will be hosting a careers breakfast briefing on the importance of volunteering and community engagement and support on Wednesday 20 April 2016, as part of Fundraising Week.