Reflections of a Community Fundraiser
My eight year-long career in fundraising has had various guises, predominantly Events, but with a hefty stint in Trusts and Foundations, and a brief but satisfying flirt with Corporate and Individual Giving. Community fundraising however was never an area I had actively pursued. So when it came my way unexpectedly, I jumped at the chance with the mind that it would be a good move for my CV to gain a closer insight into yet another strand of the woven cloth that is fundraising. As it turns out I got rather more than I had bargained for!
Luckily for me, the very nature of the charity I work for means that I am in the rather enviable position of having a daily, very welcome, barrage of supporters wishing to fundraise for us. And whilst I have always enjoyed the rather unpredictable nature of being a fundraiser, working within community takes that unpredictability, multiplies it by a thousand and then adds on healthy dose of surrealism for good measure. It feels to me like I am working at the very coal face of fundraising, the grass roots, the very nub of what it’s all about, where you genuinely have absolutely no idea how your otherwise carefully planned day might actually pan out.
As a community fundraiser, I relish the fact I get to meet people from absolutely every aspect of our diverse society who then cover absolutely every area and level of raising funds. For instance, in one day I could get a wee person selling loom bands or donating their birthday presents; an uncharacteristically enthusiastic teenager organising a bake sale or taking part in a sponsored head shave; an adult prepared to hurl themselves out of a plane, run through deserts or hitchhike to Paris; comedians or people in Fringe shows taking collections or hoping to ‘auction a croissant’ for us; and of course, the spritely grandparents, who may want to raise funds by perhaps holding a tea dance, or a knit-a-thon or a sponsored cycle from Lands end to John O’Groats. I also get to meet entire families who wish to raise funds as a way of giving something back to the charity that has made a positive impact to their lives. Often I get to know these families personally as I support them through their fundraising journey and bear witness to how their incredible fundraising can have a cathartic affect and provide focus at the hardest of times. However within all this, I also get to share in a fundraiser’s joy and sense of achievement at having raised funds they know will benefit others perhaps in similar position as them.
Whatever the reason people are fundraising for, albeit for friends, family or just because they have a sense of empathy for poorly children in hospital, I have come to consider my role as a community fundraiser as a position of extreme privilege, as I get to play a small part in somebody’s story, even if it is for a short while.
On a day to day basis I am genuinely inspired by people as they push themselves to their limits to perhaps finish a marathon, or walk for 40 miles following spinal surgery. People are amazing, and we as community fundraisers get to witness that all the time. We should, then, always remember we are here to facilitate and support them in their fundraising, steward them during the course of it and celebrate them and their achievement however big or small at the end because they may come back, like an old friend, to challenge themselves further, and bring more friends with them. However if they do not, then we still want to know they have left with an overriding sense of achievement for having done something for a charity that genuinely appreciates it.
Victoria Watson, Community Fundraiser, Sick Kids Friends Foundation
Victoria has worked in fundraising for around 8 years, having begun her career at Fairbridge in Scotland. She then moved on to The Sick Kids Friends Foundation in 2011, where she now works as the Community Fundraiser. Fortunately, she likes to be busy, and lives in Portobello with her husband and three children, managing to fit in a bit of photography, writing and DJing when time permits!