Tell us a little bit about the organisation you represent
I joined Chuffed.org in October last year. Chuffed.org is a global leading crowdfunding platforms for social causes. In the past 3 years over 120,000 people supported 4,000+ projects on our platform, raising more than $13M for social causes, incl. community, refugee, environment and animal welfare projects in 27 countries. We’re an Australian start-up, with 5 staff in total: the Founder/CEO, 2 Developers, a Customer Advocate and a ‘Growth Manager’ (me). The organisation is set up as a ‘Social Benefits’ company, similar to a Social Enterprise structure in the UK. In contrast to most fundraising platforms, we charge no fees or commissions, instead, we operate on optional donations: donors choose if and how much they donate to Chuffed.org when supporting a campaign.
What does a typical month look like (if such a thing exists)?
I work closely with the CEO, who moved to London in July last year after completing a £1m investment round in Australia to expand the platform internationally. My main focus is getting more projects funded on Chuffed.org. To help more people start campaigns and reach their targets, I work on a variety of growth initiatives and no month (no week) is ever the same! In the past months I worked on a variety of Growth initiatives, ranging from PR and media, paid advertising and direct communications to events and more recently, looking at creating communities of donors using Chuffed.org to find projects to support. In short, I identify and define growth initiatives, set up experiments to measure the impacts and decide which ones to implement, repeat and/or scale.
Describe your career path and how you got to where you are now
My career is full of unexpected twists and turns. I didn’t plan to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector. I started in science with a B.Sc in biology and M.Sc. in biochemistry, followed with a PhD in biochemistry (in Belgium, where I grew up). All set for an academic career in science (or so it seemed). I started to question the purpose of a career in science, but had no clue what else was out there. Meanwhile, I met another PhD student who wanted to unite doctoral students to collaborate across sectors. We founded a nonprofit organisation called PhD Society Leuven, and I joined as Career Chair. Within a few months I pulled together a team of 8 fellow PhD students to organise Belgium’s largest cross-disciplinary job fair for doctoral students. At the Job Fair I connected with employers, but had a strong desire to move overseas and took a 3-month break, travelling across Latin America, followed with 2 amazing years in Australia (joining my partner on a 2-year transfer for his job). In Australia I not only changed careers but also ‘found my purpose’.
So how did this happen?
I first accepted a commercial sales job in global biotech (ambitious to leverage my scientific degrees) but quickly discovered that wasn’t my true calling. Although I did a good job, I felt drained of energy and motivation levels dropped. I left the role after 6 months, not knowing what came next. I started to work from a local coworking space called Spacecubed, where my love for animals (and great connections) introduced me to PetRescue and the world of fundraising for social causes. I was supposed to work with them for a few weeks, but stayed part-time for a full year – and it was the best year ever! Meanwhile, I also joined TEDxPerth to help secure $100k worth of Corporate Partnerships and ran a crowdfunding campaign for Spacecubed. That’s how I got introduced to Chuffed.org. The CEO coached me how to run a successful campaign, which helped us raise over $50k in 30 days. Such an exciting experience! At the time I was about to return to Europe for my partner’s job and Chuffed.org has no immediate plans to expand internationally. Nonetheless, we stayed in touch throughout the years.
Back in Europe, I decided to progress my career in the nonprofit sector, focusing on corporate fundraising. I moved to London and joined WaterAid as a Corporate Fundraiser for 1.5 years. I enjoyed my role, working with a very talented manager and great colleagues, developing and implementing a new corporate fundraising strategy for a leading international NGO. However, when my manager left in July last year, the role had transitioned from being quite entrepreneurial and exciting to rather repetitive and transactional. Meanwhile, the CEO at Chuffed.org had moved to London and after a few conversations, I was very excited to get on board at this stage of growth in a purpose-led organisation.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The flexibility, team, variety, responsibility, and knowledge that I am helping to make this world a better place, supporting a wider range of causes, from international development and environmental causes to animal welfare and social causes, while working in a fast-paced and dynamic environment, using all of the skills I gained of the past years.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in working in the charity / social enterprise sector?
First, ditch the concept of a ‘career ladder’. The career ladder mindset forces you to move in only one direction (up), but what if you’re on the wrong ladder? Instead of climbing up these ladders, and assuming you have to start at the bottom each time, visualize your career as a series of interconnecting leaps between different opportunities (like a ‘lily-pad’). What holds everything together are the roots of the lily pads—your purpose. Your purpose may be driving you to do one thing now, but that may change in five years. Now, this doesn’t mean you should quit your job every six months, but it does mean you should question whether your current role excites you, or is helping you make a valuable contribution to society.
Second, look outwards. Talk to others in the sector. Do a LinkedIn search and contact people already in the job you are interested in, asking them if they are interested to have a chat. I also benefited from conversations with experienced recruiters in the sector, especially when positioning myself after moving to the UK. They helped me identify relevant skills, experiences, organisations and positions. If you find a good recruiter that’s genuinely interested to help you on your way, it’s well worth the effort.
Last but not least, read the book ‘Doing Good Better’. Getting familiar with the concept of effective altruism and shaping your own thoughts early in your career will help you find a way to make meaning, not just money.
To find out more about Chuffed.org and to get involved go to www.chuffed.org
If you want to find out more about Marlies, come along to our monthly charity networking event on the 25th January where she will be speaking about running crowdfunding campaigns, more details can be found here: https://www.iamrecruiting.co.uk/event/charity-non-profit-drinks-networking-3/
What is I Am all about?
What do we do? We love connecting people in charities, social enterprises and not-for-profits to learn, share knowledge, make meaningful connections and find jobs! We organise regular social networking and learning events and help people find jobs through our recruitment services.