Russell Delew joined Unicef UK last year as the new director of philanthropy, having delivered transformational growth for high profile charities including Cancer Research UK and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Now established in his first international development role, Delew’s vision is to create and deliver a long term strategy for Unicef UK’s philanthropy team. This involves growing the team in order to attract more high net worth individuals to support the charity, and working more closely with philanthropists to increase the impact of their contributions.
From working in new offices overlooking amazing London views, to fantastic career development opportunities, Delew tells us more about what it’s like to work at Unicef UK and the philanthropy roles he’s recruiting for.
Russell Delew, director of philantropy, Unicef UK
Russell, tell me about Unicef UK and the work you do
Unicef’s focus is on protecting and supporting children across the world. People often see the charity being active in emergencies such as earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis, and supporting families when they’re resettling. But we don’t just wait for emergencies to happen. One of our many projects include vaccinating half of the world’s children from polio and other world diseases, essentially helping to sustain life. Our main focus at the moment is on long term development across the 190 countries where we have a permanent presence.
How did you land your role as director of philanthropy?
My background in delivering transformational growth in high profile charities puts me in a strong position to increase the contribution Unicef UK receives from philanthropists. I joined a year ago, initially as the interim director of philanthropy - it’s my first ever role in international development. I observed the passion that all the employees have for the work Unicef does and I spotted a tremendous opportunity to grow support through philanthropy, so I decided to stay on permanently.
How does the philanthropy team make a difference?
We’re a team of 25 philanthropy specialists incorporating three elements: philanthropy fundraising, special events, and a resource hub involving work such as prospect research and case support writing. We are the link between Unicef UK as an organisation and the major philanthropists who want to navigate through the global charity. We help identify the most meaningful programmes for them and determine what outcomes they’re likely to achieve by working with us.
What is your vision for the team?
One of my main priorities is to create a long term vision and ambition for philanthropy at Unicef UK. My overall vision is to unite our philanthropist supporters with Unicef’s work more closely to really get them behind the programmes. It’s about valuing our relationships with them and investing in long term stewardship, and we intend to restrict support to enable donors to understand the value of their contributions. To help realise this vision we’re investing in the team’s growth and in refining our case for support for donors.
What is the team culture like?
We have a high performing culture and a great team environment. We attract talented people who want to accelerate their careers in an international fundraising role, with opportunities to travel globally and potentially continue their careers overseas, whether it be Geneva, New York, Costa Rica, or pretty much anywhere across the globe. We share a common passion for wanting to see the best outcomes for children, and we’re excited about the organisation and the impact we can have at scale.
View of Stratford from Unicef UK's offices
We love our new 18th floor offices in Stratford with amazing views of London. However, you don’t need to be visible in the office every day to make an impact; we sometimes work from home and we use virtual tools to communicate with each other, especially for our frequent international meetings. Each employee receives the resources they need to support our flexible and agile working culture.
Our employee benefits go above and beyond the norm. For example, our early moments leave policy gives women and men equal paid time off, underscoring the UNCRC's principle of making the best interest of the child a primary consideration.
Unicef UK is also a fun place to work. We all have opportunities to get involved in events throughout the year such as our Soccer Aid football campaign established by Robbie Williams, where a lineup of football legends and celebrities battle it out on the pitch to raise money for children around the world.
What exciting projects are you working on?
We’ve just launched the David Beckham 7 Fund Giving Club which aims to raise £5 million over three years to tackle bullying, violence, child marriage and missed education, and ensure children - especially girls - get a true chance to realise their potential. The project involves bringing together a group of philanthropists who, collectively, will make an even greater difference than they would individually. We have also recruited a new development board of senior volunteers. It’s a very exciting campaign for us as it’s different from anything Unicef has done before, and David Beckham is personally involved in leading this campaign.
Another exciting project we’re planning to launch in 2020 is a major fundraising campaign which will be our transformational platform for the next few years. We’re primarily investing in the team’s growth in order to run this project, with the core aim of attracting more high net worth individuals to support Unicef.
Watch now: Unicef UK employees talk about working for the charity
Tell me more about the philanthropy roles you’re recruiting for
We’re currently looking to upskill the team by recruiting for some senior and mid-level philanthropy roles. These include:
If you’re looking for an opportunity to step up in your career, this is an exciting time to join us and be part of the early stages of the development and delivery of a major fundraising strategy. The roles will enable you to focus on managing relationships with high net worth individuals and bringing together key stakeholders in the organisation.
What top tips would you offer someone applying to join the philanthropy team?
- Highlight your relationship-building skills: I’m keen on hiring people who can build relationships with individual philanthropists and trusts and foundations, and look after them for a number of years.
- Be ambitious: I’ve always been open about wanting people to take on greater challenges and stretch themselves. Demonstrate your passion and drive and show you’re tenacious and keen to step up in your career.
- Have a long term career plan: To be successful in philanthropy fundraising you need to stay in a role for two to three years to allow enough time to show the impact you’ve had. Show how the position you’re applying for is a big part of your long term career goals.
- Get in touch: I’m open to talking to people before you apply so you can hear more about Unicef and explore what the organisation is about before you commit to joining. You can contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sum up what makes a ‘wonderful workplace’ for you
A wonderful workplace for me offers an environment to bring together a diverse group of talented people and enables success. Unicef is a tremendous brand and a great organisation to work for. We have an open, honest and inclusive culture where colleagues can bring their true self to work and feel safe to speak up. Having been here for a year, I've seen the impact we have on the ground for the most disadvantaged children around the world.