A humbling generosity which drives us all
Lyndall Stein’s fundraising career impressed the judges and audience alike at the 2017 National Fundraising Awards. Her Lifetime Contribution Award win gave the humble and generous Stein a platform to thank her peers and kind strangers:
It is a wonderful privilege to have the respect of your peers so it was very special to me to get the lifetime achievement award – both humbling and heartening. The only problem is that a lifetime achievement award does make you wonder if it is a subtle hint to leave the stage. I thought I should just do what I was advised by my friend and fellow performer when we were doing a fundraiser for Marie Curie not so long ago – to just, ‘take the applause’.
Of course it does bring your focus to what you have done with your time on Earth so far. It also offers me a chance to focus on the young people who may be following in our wake and making their own wonderful waves. We must cheer them from the side lines and give them the space to take the stage.
I have never come across any generation of fundraisers who has chosen this career path for glory or money – we are all driven simply by the satisfaction of making our world a better one. All you need is the courage to persuade ordinary people to support your cause.
I have seen in my lifetime how issues dealing with the darkest of times can be brought out of the shadows. I am old enough to remember when the great imprisoned leader Nelson Mandela was forgotten and reviled. My first fundraising role was asking the British public to support him and his fellow freedom fighters. I will never forget the postcard with a pound coin taped to it from a nun who said, ‘I have no money of my own but I was given this by a friend and wanted you to have it for the fight to end apartheid’. It is that humbling generosity which drives us all.
I worked at Terrence Higgins Trust in the 90s when young colleagues sickened and died, so many lost lives. The urgency of our task was so desperate. I made some mistakes, our database was a mess, but our motives were pure and now we can see so much has changed for the better for those affected by HIV/AIDS.
That fundraising event where my friend told me to simply take the applause was for a local hospice in Bradford. Some might say I made a bit of a fool of myself singing in public and that it probably was not a good idea. But that hospice is an amazing place for my friends up north to say farewell. I did think that perhaps the wonderful nurse who looked after my dad in his last hours on this earth was there because someone else was prepared to look silly to raise money for Marie Curie.
A fundraiser’s role is to conduct a vibrant and creative orchestra, to work together with you, our democratic representatives, and the generous people who sustain the jewels of our society – those charities and campaigning organisations working to save our world, to fund medical research, to save the lives of people fleeing wars and famine, to defend human rights, to find shelter for those without a home, to protect and care for children. These are all noble causes and we are all honoured to serve them.
Do you know a fundraiser or organisation deserving of recognition?