INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: MEMBER VIEWPOINT - Spare a thought and a donation for charities which wear a uniform

Hazel Redmond, community fundraising officer at St John Ambulance

I suspect many people who have watched the scenes from the war in Iraq will have thought about our servicemen and their families. However, did you realise that St John Ambulance is working with the Ministry of Defence and the emergency services here in the UK to ensure that, in the event of a crisis, all eventualities are covered all year round.

This is just one aspect of our work that no-one ever hears about. St John Ambulance carries out a wide range of activities aside from our uniformed work. We work with homeless people and run Breakfast Clubs as well as a Young Carers Project. The development of our First Responder Programme is dependent on the donations that we receive. The ability to raise funds to ensure that all our volunteers have the latest equipment to save lives is paramount to our work.

As part of my role as community fundraising officer, I have been given an opportunity to work within one of our counties. The real challenge that St John Ambulance faces is trying to convey that, although our volunteers wear a uniform, we are a charity and are very often providing first aid cover for free or at minimum cost to enable other charities to run successful events.

The vast majority of our 45,000 volunteers join us not to actually raise funds but to practise the skills that they have learned in first aid.

And for other uniformed organisations like us, it is a matter of convincing those who give that we receive no government funding and rely heavily on public support.

Fundraising for uniformed organisations, regardless of profile, is not easy and part of my role is to communicate the fact that we ask for donations because we are a charity.

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