Community fundraising is where my heart is
My fundraising career began in 2002 when I joined NSPCC as a Community Fundraising Co-ordinator. I had recently signed up as a fundraising volunteer and was so inspired by their Sussex Community Fundraiser, Ros Bird, that I went for a job in their South East team.
I spent five years at NSPCC, learning as much as I could from the South East Community Team, supporting their volunteer fundraising groups and taking on as much responsibility as possible. I also worked closely with teams in head office which helped me to understand the bigger picture of fundraising. When the time came to move on I chose to seek out a role that covered multiple fundraising areas.
In 2007, I joined The Disabilities Trust, based in Burgess Hill. As Fundraising Co-ordinator I oversaw all fundraising including corporate activity, celebrities, major events, the London Marathon team, community fundraising, regular givers, major donors and trusts. This broader overview was a valuable experience, significantly developing my knowledge - and ultimately confirming that my heart was in Community!
In 2008, I decided to return to this specific area of fundraising, this time looking into local charities. I spent the following six years as Community Fundraiser at St Catherine’s Hospice where my initial focus was on developing specific areas of community income, in particular schools fundraising. I worked closely with teachers to find a way to approach the subject of death and dying with children and young people. This lead to the introduction of several awareness raising and fundraising approaches, including the Enterprise Challenge - an annual ten week interschool competition, which I designed to engage secondary schools. This initiative went on to raise £35,000, received the Education Business Partnership ‘Enterprise Award’ and was promoted by Help the Hospices as national best practise.
In 2009, the St Catherine’s catchment area expanded. With minimal brand awareness in this area, I was tasked with laying the foundations for support, establishing relationships with individuals, companies and groups. Over the next five years, this lead to significant new support including three high profile concerts, local mass participation events, major donor recruitment, corporate support, a new volunteer fundraising group, MP involvement and the Hospice’s first celebrity patron. I utilised this experience further to promote a sense of community throughout St Catherine’s, leading on ambassador training and encouraging all volunteers, staff and trustees to actively seek opportunities for hospice promotion and support.
In 2013, I completed the Diploma in Fundraising with the Institute of Fundraising. To anyone who is considering signing up, I would certainly recommend it. I gained a huge amount, particularly around strategy writing and donor development. My assignments also prompted me to collaborate with other fundraisers which helped to strengthen my abilities further.
Successfully establishing and developing hospice fundraising in a new area gave me the desire to take on an even larger challenge. In 2014, I joined Battersea Dogs & Cats Home where I am now the Regional Community Fundraiser for Kent, Sussex and the south of Essex. Battersea may be a household name, but community fundraising is relatively new to the Home. There are significant opportunities and I am enjoying putting my experience to the test by establishing grassroots support on a far wider scale.
I love working in the ‘Charity World’. You get to meet so many positive and enthusiastic people and no two days are alike. I have recently signed up as a mentor with the Institute of Fundraising and am looking forward to having further opportunities to grow as a fundraiser and share what I have learned over the years.
Victoria Lawrence, Regional Community Fundraiser, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
Follow Victoria's #bestyoucanbe story: watch her video below, and look out for the full version at National Fundraising Convention 2015