At Work: Fundraising - Personal account - Beth Read

It's vital to focus, says the churches development officer at the Bible Society.

The best advice I had

My previous fundraising manager gave me the best advice, which is to make sure you don't try to do everything, but focus on five key projects.

I've found putting this into practice really helps because fundraising is a juggling act, keeping all the plates spinning. I find that it helps to set a small number of key targets and really prioritise. That way you can really make progress, complete the job and then move on to the next target.

The biggest challenge I've faced

One of the biggest challenges I face on a day-to-day basis is meeting the needs of a diverse audience. I need to create a huge range of fundraising resources, from materials for all-age church services to youth group interactive events and parachute jumps. I also need to think about the formats we use for our resource packs because data projectors or DVD players are not always the most appropriate media. This means I need to be creative in coming up with imaginative and engaging talks and activities that tell people how our work is changing lives around the world, without always falling back on PowerPoint presentations or DVD clips. There are always those times when you arrive at the venue to discover there is nowhere to project on to, or you click to start the PowerPoint presentation and nothing happens - it's good to be able to ad lib quickly.

My greatest hit

My favourite moment was interviewing Jeremy Paxman when I was area fundraising manager for The Children's Society. He came to open a fete for us and he was happy for me to interview him. It was quite strange interviewing someone renowned for his interviewing skills.

My worst moment

Organising an It's a Knockout competition for staff teams from 10 companies, outdoors in the pouring rain in Wiltshire for The Children's Society, with everyone getting wetter and wetter through the day. Another bad moment was giving a presentation to a Mother's Union conference, thinking I was engaging with the audience and then noticing that a lady in the front row had fallen asleep.

My top tip

You can never say thank you to your supporters too often. It's also good to give people the option of supporting in the way that is best for them. This means taking the time to listen to what people are looking for and then talking through the options.

- Interview by Annie Kelly.

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