At Work: Fundraising - Personal account - Louise Walters

Annie Kelly

Throw off the bowlines, says Diabetes UK's corporate partnership manager.

The best advice I've had

It's actually from an extract by Mark Twain: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." On a more practical level, this is my first job in the charity sector - on arrival at Diabetes UK I quickly learnt to grasp the charity's objectives and policies before talking to potential corporate partners.

The biggest challenge I've faced

Moving over to the charity sector from a job in marketing consumer goods was pretty challenging, but I soon worked out that I could transfer my marketing and selling skills to Diabetes UK and put them to really good use. At the end of the day, my job is still about selling projects that have the potential to attract financial support. My biggest task here has been making 'the ask' for a substantial level of sponsorship funding to support our largest national advertising campaign, and help identify the undiagnosed people who have diabetes.

My greatest hit

One of the most exciting times in my career was creating a brand new market and launching a successful new range of women's vitamin and skincare brands into leading pharmacy and supermarket chains. Now I love being the bridge between the charity and the corporate world because I understand the business needs companies have and how we might tap into them.

My worst moment

Minutes before launching this new range to an eager audience of press journalists, I received a frantic call from our host, broadcaster Vanessa Feltz, explaining that she was caught up in a bomb scare. Luckily we managed to improvise until she arrived, true to form, in a whoosh of energy and enthusiasm.

My top tips

The first meeting with a corporate is absolutely vital, but don't deluge it with information. Allow the corporate the space it requires to set out its vision for a future partnership before setting out your own agenda.

Never promise more than you can deliver, and work out who will be making the financial decisions. Know your own marketplace well - go to events, understand the people you're trying to help. Pace yourself, and appreciate others.

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