YMCA DownsLink Group is the biggest provider of youth services across Sussex and Surrey, supporting over 12,000 young people each year and providing critical services that wouldn’t otherwise exist. This includes 550 units of accommodation for vulnerable young people at risk of homelessness, as well as a broad range of advice and support services.
As part of the charity’s bold ambition to significantly increase fundraised income to support even more young people, it is launching a brand new five-year fundraising initiative and is recruiting for a team to pioneer the campaign, including a trusts and foundations manager and a digital marketing specialist.
We spoke to Nikki Mason, director of fundraising and communications at YMCA DownsLink, for insider insight into the career opportunities on offer in her team.
Nikki, tell me more about YMCA DownsLink and the work you do
Our holistic support approach for young people includes everything from mental health support, counselling and family mediation, to practical advice around housing, training and employment, and even more in between. Brighton has the biggest homeless population in the UK outside of London, and as is well documented, mental health issues are rising in young people.
As an organisation, we directly support young people locally and make a big impact regionally.
What roles are you currently recruiting for?
We’re forming a new team to plan and execute our five-year fundraising initiative focusing on three key issues: youth homelessness, mental health issues in young people, and young person’s exploitation (sexual or crime-related).
Among the exciting roles we’re recruiting for are:
- A trusts and foundations manager to take ownership of trusts and foundations income and activity across the charity. You’ll be responsible for prospecting, managing and growing trust and foundation income.
- A digital marketing specialist to help drive our impact message forward, and educate the local community and key stakeholder groups about the work we do.
- A head of marketing and communications to lead, develop and implement our communications and marketing strategy.
- A corporate and events officer to work closely with the head of fundraising, taking responsibility for activating, managing and growing local corporate partnerships and YMCA fundraising events across Sussex and Surrey.
- An experienced design and brand specialist to work within the communications and marketing team and take ownership of all aspects of our brand and design, including establishing an organisational wide blueprint for creating exciting, engaging visual marketing and communications.
Why are these exciting opportunities?
This is an exciting opportunity for any fundraiser or marketer interested in highly relevant youth issues to join a pioneering new team. We’re very fortunate to already have a long history of impact and success to build on as we embark on our new strategy.
These are challenging roles in terms of the amount of work involved and the cultural shift the team will be part of. However, it will also be very rewarding and you’ll learn a lot from each other and about the issues we tackle. We’ll all be on an exciting and challenging journey together, with fantastic opportunities to develop your career.
All of the roles are located in central Hove - a lovely location surrounded by pubs, restaurants and cafes, just a five-minute walk away from Brighton and three minutes from the beach.
Some of YMCA DownsLink Group’s motivated staff team
What kind of people would enjoy working in this new team?
Passionate and creative people who want to make a difference and who would enjoy developing something completely new. You will have some experience already and be able to demonstrate how you’ve made a difference in a similar role, though not necessarily in a charity. You will be able to relate your experience to fundraising and how we encourage local businesses, individuals, trusts and foundations to donate to a worthwhile organisation. You will need to be focused and determined to succeed in the role and meet your individual KPIs.
How would you describe the working culture?
We have an open and friendly culture, and we’re all very passionate about what we do. The beauty is, the new team will create its own culture within the wider organisation, and we’re very open to a cultural change. Whilst many of our employees have worked here for a long time, we’re all enthused about the future opportunities for young people and how we can deliver those in new and exciting ways.
What attracted you to join YMCA DownsLink Group?
I joined because of the incredible work YMCA does. It’s a charity that can absolutely demonstrate the impact it has on young people in such a large region, covering areas including Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton and Hove, Worthing, Guildford, Horsham and Crawley - we have a presence all over.
We know it’s not just about ensuring young people have a bed for the night but they have other needs which require support. Our holistic approach aims to ensure their needs are met and that we listen to their views and opinions about how we shape our support package moving forward. Our staff have close knit relationships with the young people they work with, and genuinely care about and support them - from homelessness, mental issues health and child exploitation to anti knife crime. It’s quite rare for one local organisation to cover such a wide range of issues.
Teamwork and sharing ideas is a valuable part of YMCA DownsLinkGroup does.
Nikki Mason has the following top tips to help you stand out in your job application:
- Demonstrate the impact you’ve had in your current or previous roles
- Remember this initiative is about fundraising, so highlight how you could increase supporter engagement.
- Show an understanding of why people donate (or buy your product).
- Demonstrate your ability to create empathy through written or branded material.
- Show you’re not afraid of trying something new.
- Give examples of working collaboratively as part of a team to achieve shared goals.
- Show a willingness to have an opinion and stand by it, whilst listening to other people’s opinions too.