At Work: Fundraising - Personal account - Suki Dale

Samaritans' senior corporate fundraiser on relationships, passion and angst.

The best advice I had

My manager always tells me "don't take it personally" - or, to put it another way, don't be worried about rejection because this will inevitably happen in fundraising and it isn't anything to take to heart. At the same time, my colleagues have advised me that whenever you're in a partnership with a business, try to form a good personal relationship with your opposite number in the partner organisation. That person may well move on to another position or even another company and, if you've got on well with them, who knows - that could be another client and company for your charity. It's all about having genuine, good relationships and contacts.

The biggest challenge I faced

When I started this job I took on my first corporate partnership with the Vodafone UK Foundation. The partnership had already been running a year and was worth £1.5m to Samaritans over three years. It was my responsibility to continue the relationship, build upon it and take it forwards to new areas. It's been a steep learning curve, but it's a partnership that constantly throws up new challenges and pushes me forward as a fundraiser.

My greatest hit

First, scoring with Samaritans' first retail partnership - linking with Outfit, the out-of-town retail firm that has chosen Samaritans as its charity of the year. Second, I was proud we were short-listed for the Hollis Sponsorship Award for a marketing campaign.

My worst moment

Not getting a partnership with a large national corporate that would have been worth £150,000 and would have been particularly beneficial to volunteers based at our branches around the UK and Ireland. The partnership had been designed for work 'out and about' among communities. Sadly, it didn't go ahead because of serious internal problems within the company concerned.

My top tip

Believe in the charity you're fundraising for. With us, it isn't about a sales pitch. We're dealing with people's lives, not selling second-hand cars. People tell me that when I'm talking to them they can see my passion - and I use my own life experiences when I'm talking. I volunteered at Samaritans before joining its staff. I've battled with depression and I know about anxiety and angst - but now I also know about help, support and strength.

- Interview by Annie Kelly.

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