'I'd never experienced this before'
I began my role with Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home on 2 October, 2017. On my second day in the job, I attended the Scottish Fundraising Conference in Glasgow. I don’t have a fundraising background; I’d worked in financial services recruitment before joining the Home. So, if I’m being totally honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from the event.
I remember my first thought being 'wow, everyone knows each other'. I’d never been to a conference like that before. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to see each other and it was the perfect chance for ex-colleagues and industry peers to catch up.
Throughout the day I noticed that this conference was different, it wasn’t a ‘sit down and be preached to’ event, it was social, hands-on, welcoming and up-lifting. It was incredibly easy to start a conversation and everyone I spoke with took a genuine interest in the conversation – I’d never experienced this before.
Despite being formed in 1883, Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home only formed an active fundraising team in June 2016. We’re now fully structured and I was last to join the team as the Partnerships Fundraiser, dealing with our corporate relationships. The seminars at the conference were easily split between specialisms, such as Community, Individual and Corporate Giving, which made my choice of seminars easy to associate and relevant to my role.
I remember attending two seminars specifically; the first with Amy Ford from Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity with her take on Simons Sinek’s 'Start with Why'. Hearing directly from Amy was fantastic and this provided a unique opportunity to learn more about corporate fundraising from an active fundraiser. The second seminar was a panel discussion with representatives from companies such as BrewDog and Baillie Gifford.
The Q&A from the panel board was equally interesting and shed a lot of light for me. I quickly learned that many companies won’t support animal welfare charities and even more have rules dictating they won’t support charities that have an annual income over a certain amount. Of course, for each business with these rules there are just as many who align with our mission. It was at the conference that I learned about BrewDog's Unicorn 2.0 Fund, which I later secured for the Home with their Cowgate Bar in Edinburgh.
The day was closed with the awards ceremony. Again, I wasn’t sure about what an awards ceremony would entail but it was, without a doubt one of the most inspiring aspects of the day. It was inspiring to hear the stories and achievements of fundraisers and volunteers in Scotland. I really can’t give justice to the winners here but as a day-two fundraiser, hearing the tales and incredible achievements was the perfect way to end my day.
Thinking back on the day, I found the conference to be an exceptionally uplifting and unique experience. The delegates were engaging, the seminars interesting and the environment motivating. The event provided practical and relevant information for my job, but more importantly provided each of us with the encouragement to continue our vital work. If you have the chance to attend or are considering the event then I would highly encourage you to do it.
Calum Nicol, Partnerships Fundraiser at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home
Calum has a strong background in corporate affairs, having spent many years in the recruitment and hospitality sectors. He is a keen advocate of animal welfare, the environment and the outdoors and spent a number of years as a cycling guide in the French Alps.