Friday, 16 January 2015

Being a young trustee - why you should do it!

At 25 surely it’s too early to say it, but I’m starting to feel old. People born in 1997 are old enough to drive – as I found to my horror when I sold my car last month. Friends my age have told me they’re already using anti-ageing cream.

I’ve found a better approach to feeling young - surrounding myself with people who are older than me. This is why I became a trustee.

It isn’t. Actually I stumbled into it. I had supported the charity for a long time and went to their AGM last year to get more involved. I met the Director, and a conversation about volunteering led to one about fundraising, which in turn led to her emailing me when a trustee position became available.

What clinched the interview was my enthusiasm. I walked away from it knowing that while I might not have as much experience as other candidates, the interviewers couldn’t doubt my dedication.

Being a young trustee is absolutely brilliant. I get to support a cause I love. I have a huge motivation to learn about all types of fundraising, not just my field. And I get to see the inner workings of a charity.

What does the charity get out of it? Someone who understands and loves fundraising. I’ve drawn on everything I know about fundraising and put together a plan for new income streams like individual giving and challenge events.
The charity is totally reliant on trust income – and if we don’t branch out it simply won’t survive. It’s terrifying and exciting in equal parts.

They also get someone with a good work/life balance - I don’t have an all-consuming job, or any responsibilities at home. It’s us young’uns and the oldies who have time. Both categories are equally needed.

So why don’t more young fundraisers do it? Firstly, I think young people may feel they don’t have much to offer. But if you’re working in the sector you will almost certainly have vital skills and experience other charities need.
It’s well known that people can be wary about fundraising – even if you sit on the board just to fight its corner or explain why you need a proper database, you can make a massive difference.

Secondly, on a practical level, it can be tricky to find these opportunities. Try groups on LinkedIn like Young Charity Trustees or UK Charity Trustees, where roles are sometimes advertised. And be proactive – network, find charities you’re passionate about and go to their events.
There are small charities crying out for support from trustees with time and energy, it’s just a matter of finding them.
Seek out these opportunities and give it a go - I really can't recommend it enough. You will learn stacks and it's incredibly rewarding - and it's cheaper than anti-ageing cream!
Ruth Stokes

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Our fundraising bubble

Christmas is over, 2015 has started. We’re all back at work – counting the end of year pennies, and planning for the next one. Having spent two weeks with my family I’ve been in a work-free zone. It’s been rather lovely I have to admit. But it also made me realise what a fundraising bubble I can live in.
It’s no secret that I love what I do, and when I love something I can have a tendency towards all-encompassing absorption. (I still have my folder full of Michael J Fox pictures and interviews…). So fundraising tends to take up a lot of my time and thoughts.

I contributed to this article for Fundraising magazine on my favourite campaigns of 2014. Being proud parents, my Mum and Dad love to read anything I write so I showed it to them.

Also in the article Liz Tait writes: “Fundraising in 2014 will no doubt be forever remembered for the no make-up selfie, the ice bucket challenge and the Commonwealth Games text giving.”

And my parents made a couple of comments that shocked me to my fundraising core :-)

Firstly my Dad asked what on earth the Commonwealth Games text giving ‘thing’ was. Then, to my astonishment, my Mum asked me what the ‘no make-up selfie’ was. I had a reality check there and then.

I work in a bubble. While they’d both heard of the ice bucket challenge (and my Dad took great pleasure in explaining ‘no make-up selfie’ to my Mum – he’s on Facebook so saw this one), these two pieces of fundraising had completely passed them by.

Yet conferences were full to the brim with presentations about #nomakeupselfie and #icebucketchallenge. And I’m pretty sure we’ll see the Commonwealth Games crop up a few times on the 2015 conference circuit. And colleagues just can’t stop talking about them.

We’ve seen and heard so much about all of these that we have started rolling our eyes and ignoring what we can learn. Fundraiser fatigue is setting in.

So, this 2015 I will make sure I look outside my bubble, continue to remember all my audiences, and try and deliver fundraising that works for them.

Here’s to a great year!

Danielle Atkinson