I have been working in charity for three years. How crazy is that?! Three years of working for non-profit organisations and finding my place in the sector. I’ve been working for charities for as long as I was in university now. During this time, I have worked for five charities, small, medium and large, and I’ve enjoyed almost all of it. This in no way makes me an expert in charity. Of course it doesn’t! But I’ll tell you what my experience does make me an expert in. Breaking into the sector in the first place.
It also makes me a younger voice in a sector that is full of older and experienced professionals who aren’t always happy about change. I’m lucky enough that I now work in an organisation that is innovative and accepts fundraising as more than just a necessary evil which, lets be honest, is how a lot of trustees can view that side of things. This wasn’t always the case though. I have done my time in a charity where the trustees didn’t take fundraising seriously, enough that they decided they didn’t need a full time fundraiser, and I’ve worked in a large organisation where door to door fundraisers were considered the lowest of the low. It’s the most basic form of asking, sure. But it is still a skill, in its own right.
For the first time this year, I went to the Fundraising Convention in London, and my mind was blown by the number of passionate professional fundraisers there who were talking about change. What I found disheartening, however, was that the majority of these voices were either much older than myself, or worked for huge charities, whose identities are already plastered over everything the charity sector does.
Yes, the older voices are being heard because of their experiences; they want to share them, and that’s great. But people new to the sector should still have their say too. There are experiences we can draw from sectors other than non-profit that could be used to our advantage, and ideas and innovations from newcomers that would help organisations much more than hearing another person from a large charity talk about how much money they spent on rebranding.
Many of the young fundraisers I’ve met agree with me. Charities are under so much scrutiny at the moment what with GDPR and bad media attention that it scares us into thinking we can’t talk about it. But all charities thrive on having healthy communications with the general public – if they didn’t, they would fail. We should be proud to be fundraising, proud to be making a difference in the world. Some people boast about how much money they’ve made on selling a business. Why can’t we boast about how much money we’ve raised to fund medical research?
I’m making my voice – and my peers – heard. I want people to listen to what I have to say and develop a clearer understanding of what working in charity is all about. After all, there are so many interesting things that happen in fundraising every day. We should be celebrating and educating a new generation to do the same.