Tell us about your career in a snapshot.
I worked as a regional fundraiser for a couple of national charities, before focusing on capital appeals with Manchester Children’s Hospital and then Chetham’s School of Music. From there I moved into consultancy with IFC. I’m in the lucky position that I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve had more than the one before it.
What led you down this path?
I started at university, where I was Chair of Sheffield Rag, and discovered that fundraising was far more fun and rewarding than my degree. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Consultancy had appealed to me for a while; the variety of working with different organisations and helping people who want to change the world to raise the money they need to do it. When I met with IFC CEO, John Baguley, and he told me about his vision for IFC, I knew it was the right place for me.
Tell us about a fundraising success?
In terms of pounds raised, Chetham’s is the biggest single success, but I am incredibly proud of working with Alton College to help them raise funds for their new Engineering Block. As far as I am aware, it remains the largest successful capital appeal for a state school or college in the UK.
What do you see as the biggest fundraising challenge facing charities?
Where to start! So many challenges, but I think the biggest is to find ways to engage with younger people while not alienating older, existing donors. Received wisdom is that younger people are less charitably minded, but I’m not convinced that’s true.
What does the future hold for charitable fundraising?
You can’t underestimate the importance of technology, but at its heart, fundraising doesn’t change. It is now, and always will be about building relationships. Technology won’t change that fundamental truth, just the way we go about it.
Where would you like to see charitable fundraising be in the next 5 years?
I would love to see professional fundraising become better understood and embraced by the public. The whole debate over fundraising costs is a distraction when we should instead be focusing on the money raised and the difference that is made: the ground breaking medical research which couldn’t take place otherwise; the great or challenging art which would never be seen; and the support which the most vulnerable members of society would never receive. The Institute of Fundraising’s Proud to be a Fundraiser campaign is a good place to start.
You’re voted in as the next Prime Minister, what’s the first thing you do?
It may not seem like the most immediate problem, but I’d reform party finance. I don’t believe the country’s very real social, environmental and cultural issues are ever going to get sorted while vested interests can directly – and quietly – influence decision makers.
Tell us a fun and interesting fact about yourself
I am a published poet and an Olympic level athlete. Oh, sorry did it have to be true? Well, I’m finally getting to the end of studying for a theology degree. Does that count?