Personal account: Anna Massey, fundraiser, HIV/AIDS Alliance

The fundraiser for the International HIV/Aids Alliance gets a rude awakening.

- The best advice I've had

Don't be scared to talk to donors, no matter who they are. My ex-boss told me that as long as you don't insult their mothers, you're probably going to be OK. This advice stood me in good stead when I was working at the Prince's Trust: I was at the Globe Theatre helping out with a celebrity fundraising event when I started chatting casually to a glamorous, tall, blonde lady with big sunglasses and I suddenly realised I was talking to Gwyneth Paltrow. Once the ice was broken I was able to talk to her about all the good work she was supporting.

- The biggest challenge I've faced

Helping to get other colleagues in the organisation on board with the fundraising agenda. This could be helping programme managers to understand their role in maintaining the donor relationship, compliance with donor restrictions or understanding the importance of trying to cover the costs of the less sexy side of running a successful organisation.

- My greatest hit

The biggest successes are always when you've played the long game and won. We managed to bring both the Canadian and Danish governments on board as strategic donors after three years of trying to develop relationships with them. But the small hits are also great: I play in a samba band and all 30 of us get out onto the streets of Brighton each year on 1 December, World Aids Day, to raise money for the alliance and other local HIV charities.

- My worst moment

Collecting money in a bucket as a volunteer for Action Against Hunger during rush hour at Liverpool Street station. Many of the commuters were generous and pleasant, but hearing some of the ignorant comments from passers-by was very disheartening. We tend to live in a bubble of mostly like-minded people, but sometimes you get a rude awakening and realise that some of the battles for international development lie very close to home.

- My top tip

Find ways to stay inspired by your organisation. When you are in meetings all day and rushing to hit deadlines it is easy to lose sight of the good work you are trying to fund. If you are not able to travel to visit your projects regularly, talk to people who do and read your organisation's own communications materials.


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