Working In The Charity Sector: An Interview With Ed Fletcher
Name: Ed FletcherAge: 23
University: The University of Nottingham
Degree: History & American Studies
Current job title: Student Fundraising Manager
Current workplace: Hope for Children (HOPE)
Career/long term goal: Fundraising Consultancy
How and why did you first get involved with charity projects?Before university, I had done the odd bit of charity fundraising here and there but nothing major. At uni, I got involved with Karnival – the RAG at Nottingham – which is the biggest of its kind in Europe. One of the main reasons I got involved was because I found that most of the people involved in Karnival were very like-minded: outgoing, passionate, and slightly mad.
How did you get your current position?As well as 2 years of being part of Karnival, I was also doing a lot of event management work with nightclubs in Nottingham in my 2nd year. My colleague's housemate was part of HOPE and approached me about working part time in my 4th year when I got back from my studies abroad. That 4th year was exhausting but a brilliant lesson in efficient time management, and in April 2013, I was offered a full time position at HOPE to start after I graduated. Eight months on, here I am.
What skills do you feel are most important in your line of work?Fundraising is all about being innovative. The most successful events are always original because they'll be the ones people take an interest in as they've never seen anything like it before. Communication is also key. When working with students, getting hold of them isn't always easy, so making the most of the time when you do have their attention is definitely key. The major thing you need to work in the charity sector, is passion. If you are passionate about the work that your charity does (which is easy in the case of HOPE), you will find everything that bit more enjoyable because you know that you are having an amazing impact on the lives of individuals less fortunate than yourself for no better reason than they were born into different circumstances.
When I started this job, I don’t really think I had a very rounded appreciation of the other aspects of how fundraising works. Working with the Marketing Department on methods of engagement (eg. the Your Uni, Their Lives initiative) or the Finance Department on budgeting and building strategies for the future are just two examples of how my skill set has expanded outside of the traditional constraints of “fundraising”. Also, being able to have close contact with our Overseas Programmes Team has enabled me to gain a much greater knowledge of the impact fundraising actually has on the day to day running of projects. This, above all else, has definitely developed my approach to fundraising strategy and communications with support networks.
How is this role developing your skill set further?
What is the best and worst aspect of your job?The best is the opportunities to see first-hand the work HOPE does on the ground in East Africa with children living and working on the streets. Witnessing the truly life-changing work that we do as an organisation is unbelievably motivating and inspires me to make every fundraising opportunity as big a success as it possibly can be. I'm also in a privileged position to educate and impassion students about the work we do, which, without their support, would not be able to continue. I was incredibly fortunate to end up in this role and feel it is my responsibility to engage as many people as possible.
The worst aspect is definitely the long hours. Most of my friends assume that because I work for a charity, as soon as the big hand reaches 5pm, I’m out the door. The reality is that this job is like any other: late nights, working weekends, rarely ever truly clocking off. However, somehow none of these seem to bother me - particularly because of the passion that working for a charity evokes from you, and how much I enjoy what I do.
Absolutely. Eventually I want to be consulting charities and companies on how they can maximise fundraising campaigns, but I am a strong believer in understanding and experiencing your profession from every level. I am incredibly lucky at HOPE that I am regularly given the opportunity to expand the basic skills I learnt through working with RAG at Notts and develop the effectiveness of my fundraising projects. I hope that this progression will continue and eventually lead to me sharing my experiences and knowledge with organisations all over the world.
Is your job helping you to achieve your long term career goal?
And finally, do you have any advice for students and graduates reading this article?If you're outgoing, passionate and motivated - consider the third sector. More often than not, you will be given the opportunity to develop and showcase your skills in a much more substantial way than you would going straight into the private sector. I think the charity sector is extremely good at rewarding ambitious and innovative graduates, and it really is a fantastic platform to showcase what you can do.
I would also recommend applying for internships or graduate jobs at smaller organisations, like HOPE. You’ll be more likely to interact with all facets of the charity and have more opportunities to utilise your skills, and gain experience and training from more established members of staff.
If you'd like to find out more about HOPE and how you can get involved, check out the pages below:
Hope for Children:
Your Uni, Their Lives: