Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A year in fundraising

I’ve worked in fundraising before – but for higher education. I am a nature lover and I’ve worked in conservation before, but as a volunteer on a nature reserve. So imagine what a wonderful opportunity it was for me to combine my marketing, communications and fundraising skills with my passion, conservation.

I joined Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in February 2010, taking a maternity cover post for the Major Donor Manager. By strange coincidence Liz (who has been with FFI for several years) and I worked together in the past, but I was assured by my interviewers that it was my presentation that won me the job. Before meeting the folks at FFI I researched the organisation and was very impressed and inspired. That most certainly influenced my performance at interview and I had no trouble talking about how I could contribute.

One of the first things I did was join FFI as a member. With very little cross-over time before Liz left (to produce her second beautiful bouncing baby girl), I was thrown in at the deep end (what other end is there?). I quickly became involved in producing reports for donors, getting to grips with the database and in planning for a major event – our spring Conservation Circle dinner with guest speaker, Stephen Fry. A man as charming in person as you may imagine. And he spoke with real feeling about the rhino relocation project and his own interest in conservation.

But it wasn’t all about posh frocks - meeting millionaires, celebrities and royalty. There was plenty of groundwork to do, and I enjoyed seeing the fruits of our labours. From researching potential individuals to approach to working with existing donors, there’s always plenty of paperwork to go with the fun stuff. What really engaged me about the job was the learning. Every report I wrote I learned more about the work of FFI. I was privileged to meet and work with the individuals who had hands-on influence in making change happen. In meeting donors, I met a cadre of individuals who, no matter what their background, all shared this common passion for conservation and the work of FFI.

From celebrities to bankers, from my next-door-neighbour (a retired Canon) to donors in far flung places, I was given a wonderful opportunity to engage with people who love and support what we do here at FFI.

In other words, fundraising isn’t just about putting out your hand and asking for money. It’s about understanding people, listening to what they want and making sure you are on the same wavelength, and if you aren’t, finding the right person who is. For me it’s about believing in what you are doing.

I have had a fabulous year at FFI where I have met some incredible people and developed my own knowledge far beyond my expectations. I have discovered new interests and learned new skills. But most importantly of all, I have discovered FFI and the amazing work that the committed people both within and external to the organisation do around the world.

www.fauna-flora.org/

Photo credits: Wildlife at Work Day; the Brooks's Club, London (featuring Carolyn, Rob, Catherine and Kelly with guanaco in the background) and school children engaging in active conservation education (photo by Helene Barnes). Photos (C) FFI
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