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From teaching ‘I can sing a rainbow’ on a university gap year to breaking into Regional Fundraising for a major UK charity

Charlotte Jones, Community Fundraiser at Marie Curie Cancer Care shares her story of how she carved a career in fundraising.

Charlotte Jones

June 2011, Perpignan, France – 30 pairs of eyes gazed at me as I sang ‘I can sing a rainbow’ to 7 year old French children trying their best to say ‘red’ rather than ‘wed’. Whilst these are the moments I now treasure in hindsight, it took only 3 months into my British Council assistantship to realise I was not going to be a teacher when I graduated.

I’d been volunteering for two charities during my time in France; Les Blouses Roses and Action Contre La Faim. Although the charities had completely different missions, both voluntary roles involved participating in and managing local fundraising activities. I quickly learnt I loved speaking to members of the public and gaining their support.

June 2012, Durham – Two representatives from Marie Curie Cancer Care questioned me during a mock interview careers workshop. Here I told them about my experience in France, the month I’d spent teaching IT skills to women in India and my university fundraising for Save the Children. Then the most important thing happened; I made a contact.

So What Does My Day Really Look Like?

The contact led to my current role as Community Fundraiser. The role is immensely varied and rewarding opening up several opportunities for personal development. My diary for tomorrow is as follows:

  • A coffee with a volunteer who wants to know more about the charity
  • A meeting with one of my fundraising groups
  • Setting up a Gifts in Wills display in a Funeral Director window
  • Picking up daffodil boxes
  • A meeting with a local solicitors about a fundraiser they are planning

Then I will return to the office to manage two volunteers before phoning supporters to let them know about a fundraising group information evening I’m holding, alongside the usual emails and admin. Juggling all of the core products and campaigns whilst trying to ensure good stewardship is challenging but it does mean that when I leave Marie Curie I will have a wide range of experience from my first job in the sector.

What I’ve Learnt….

So this is what I’ve learnt in my very short career; networking, making contacts and making impressions is fundamental, especially in such a competitive world. Always have a business card on you and an elevator pitch ready to go. I made a great contact on my train journey home at Christmas very surprisingly. Sure, you have to have genuine enthusiasm and experience to back it up but really it’s just about taking opportunities and speaking to people.

You can find out more about Marie Curie Cancer Care at www.mariecurie.org.uk.

This blog is brought to you by the I Am Group.  We work with charities to provide networking and learning events and help charities and not-for-profit organisations recruit the best staff.  You can find out more about us at www.iamenterprises.co.uk and to join our monthly networking events visit www.monthlycharitynetworking.eventbrite.co.uk.  

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