At Work: Fundraising - Personal account - Graziella Campisano

Annie Kelly

Macmillan Cancer Support's fundraising manager for Wiltshire on how silence pays.

The best advice I had

Recognise the power of silence and listening. As a fundraiser, I can be enthusiastic, which can lead to lots and lots of talking. My line manager once said "silence is a tool - use it", and she was right: it gives you time to collect your thoughts, hear key points in the conversation and reassess your strategy if necessary. I once used this when talking to a corporate organisation that wanted to make a donation. I asked that dreaded question "What level of donation were you thinking of?" and then I just shut up for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually the reply came back "oh, minimum £25,000". I'll be honest, my knees were knocking under the table.

The biggest challenge I've faced

To raise a million pounds. I joined Macmillan from the NHS in 2002 and was the charity's first paid fundraiser for Swindon since 1997. It was my first paid job in the voluntary sector, and my target was to raise £600,000, but then it was upped to a million. It was frightening because I know how hard it is to generate £100, let alone a million. But we did it and hit our target this March.

My greatest hit

I was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship Award by one of my local Rotary Clubs for my services to charity. It was totally unexpected: I had gone to collect a cheque and was asked to receive my award, which consisted of a leather-bound certificate, a medal and a pin badge.

My worst moment

The end of the appeal - I guess it was a bit like watching your first child go off to school. At the beginning, it seems like the biggest challenge you've faced to date - you don't know how you're going to do it, but then all of a sudden you're there, you've hit the target, you've had the celebration and congratulations, and you fall flat - until you are given the next challenge, that is, and it starts all over again.

My top tips

Prepare, prepare, prepare. I know I work in a sector that is very competitive in the sense that we are all after the same money. You need to be clear about your charity's aims and be able to communicate and deliver those aims to anyone who might be able to help, whether it is a company or a local group. You must also believe in what you are saying. After you've done all of this, always say thank you. You'd be surprised how many don't.

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