'It helped me deliver more effective campaigns'
Andy Heald found the online Certificate in Fundraising so valuable that he later took on the online Diploma in Fundraising. Here, he shares what the experience was like and importantly, how his new expertise helped him deliver fundraising projects with excellent outcomes.
What made you decide to undertake the Certificate and Diploma qualifications?
Although I had more than 15 years of sales and marketing experience and had been working for charities for more than four years, I had not had any formal fundraising training. I wanted to learn best practices to further my knowledge and increase my confidence.
The Certificate had given me a very solid foundation in fundraising practice which had affirmed and extended my knowledge. It helped me improve my work and deliver more effective campaigns.
After four years of increased experience, including a wider breadth of fundraising methods and managing a growing team, I felt that I needed to formalise my knowledge again so I went back to do the Diploma. The topics covered in the Diploma (including trusts, major gifts and management) suited my needs.
What made you decide to take both the Certificate and Diploma online?
I work full time, have a family, volunteer for a couple of organisations and don’t live near any of the IoF’s training facilities. Taking full days at a time out of my work or personal life just wasn’t an option, so the online delivery of the course made the Certificate accessible to me.
I’m pretty self-disciplined so I felt that the flexibility fit my studies into my working week, would work for me. It did (I even managed to move house during the course!) and it was this flexibility that made me feel I could complete the Diploma too.
What were the advantages of doing it online?
I think that the flexibility to be able (within reason) to complete the work when you can fit it around your other commitments is its biggest advantage. You also have all the course materials available to you, so you can get ahead (if you know you’ve got a really busy period coming up) and you can refer to them (like the online lectures) as many times as you like, which means you can really embed the knowledge.
Also, for me, working through the course little and often meant that the information stayed fresh.
Additionally, the course uses a variety of teaching techniques and multimedia, to engage with different learning styles. I found this really helpful, as it kept me interested and I wasn’t limited to reading long articles and writing essays.
Did you find any challenges in doing it online?
Although I am pretty self-disciplined, it can still be tough to come home from a full day’s work and commute, put the kids to bed and then work for another two to three hours. Both courses included a lot of material, so if you get behind it’s really hard to catch up.
I found that the best route to get through this was to fully read through the course requirements and schedule and then make a weekly plan for each unit (including proper rest and reward times) – and then stick to it!
The lack of human contact is the biggest challenge – you’ve got no real way of benchmarking your performance or of sharing ideas with others. But there are forums, which do help (and your input is graded for the Diploma) and fortunately, I had access to a network of other fundraisers. I work in a fundraising agency which supported my learning so I also had the opportunity to discuss ideas with other professionals there. And I had great access to my tutors both times and took the opportunity to ask them questions whenever I needed to.
What did you find most valuable about each qualification?
Both courses really affirmed and increased my knowledge of the best practices in fundraising. Each has propelled me to a new level in a specific area (such as individual giving) or extended my knowledge into a new area (like major gifts). I think that beyond the value of any specific skills and understanding, the most valuable thing I obtained from either course was affirmation of my knowledge and abilities.
How have you applied your learning?
I work for a fundraising agency and have applied my learning to every client campaign or programme I’ve been involved in creating or running ever since. I’ve been able to develop our range of services, grow our team and deliver increasingly effective campaigns (ultimately, raising more money) – and that’s been good news for everybody!
What benefit has your qualifications expertise had on your organisation’s initiatives and outcomes?
I lead the consultancy team at our agency. Following the completion of each qualification we have increased the number and type of fundraising projects we deliver, from new and existing clients.
I know that my increased and qualified knowledge has helped us deliver more effective campaigns, build trust and strengthen our reputation.
I’ve also used it to benchmark and hone the skills of our team, one of whom has now also completed the Certificate online.
What project/s are you most proud of since achieving your qualifications?
Genuinely, a hard choice as I’m privileged to work with so many great organisations. With one we raised £1 million in six months from trusts and major donors to enable the charity to grow and deliver a wider range of services.
My qualifications have also given me the skills and flexibility to work on projects as diverse as developing a fundraising strategy for a start-up charity in my home town to a fundraising programme for one of the world’s largest children’s charities!
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about doing the Certificate or Diploma online?
There are guidelines about how much time you need to devote to across the courses but we all learn in different ways and at different speeds. You get out what you put in, so if you want to get a higher grade and to increase your understanding of a topic then you have to put more hours in.
Andy Heald BSc (Hons) MInstF(Dip), Director of Marketing and Fundraising Services at Yeomans
Find out more about taking the online Certificate or Diploma