Paul Montgomery, Relationship Manager - Operations, at the Stroke Association

10 May 2024
4 minutes
Relationship Building
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Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
Relationship Manager - Operations, the Stroke Association

I’ve been fundraising for 24 years and, while I’ve only been at a handful of charities, I’ve been round the houses a few times, in various roles at all levels. I love what I do and the causes that drive my working day, and I love nothing better than working across teams to solve a common problem.

My current role is Relationship Manager – Operations and I lead on fundraising operations within the Regional Fundraising team at the Stroke Association, focussing on data, insight, compliance and process development. It’s a national role, helping the team have the best relationships with exceptional supporters.

Moving to Northern Ireland and finding community

I’ve always worked at medium to large sized national charities, so I’ve never needed to look outside for support.

After spending nearly 14 years in England I moved back to sunny Belfast where I live now with my wife and teenage daughters. When I moved back to Northern Ireland I realised this meant I had literally no networks across the fundraising community, bar the Chartered Institute events I started attending. I began volunteering with the Northern Ireland regional group not long after, both because of the great support it offers the sector, and the local relationships that volunteering allows me to build.

As a member of the group I get to work with an exceptional team of volunteers, from all levels and all charity sectors and sizes. They’re now my sounding board when I need one, and I get to see my own work life challenges through their eyes.

If I think I’ve had a bad week, they’ll show me what problems really look like. If I think things are going great, they’ll cut me down to size quick as a flash. It’s exactly what I need and want in a team.

Support for my career and supporting others

Without a doubt being a volunteer supports my career and day-to-day fundraising. Without volunteering and the perspectives it offers, I’d still be sitting in a little echo chamber in my day job.

It offers me access to conversations I wouldn’t otherwise have and ideas I wouldn’t otherwise see. It’s also given me the opportunity to work in a different way to my day job, developing networking, strategic and leadership skills that get rusty otherwise.

Northen Ireland isn’t huge but the fundraising community here really packs a punch. Our annual volunteer led programmes support over 150 individuals from over 70 organisations, and that’s growing year on year. We’re not only here to support fundraisers, we’re here to celebrate excellence too.

Reaping the benefits of membership

I like nothing better than carving out time to sit down with a coffee and Fundraising Magazine. I think when you get away from a screen your mind opens up in different ways. I scribble notes, circle articles and every so often my colleagues get handed my battered copy with post it notes attached. I sometimes get a special look in return, but it makes me happy anyway!

My organisation wants me to be outward looking. They want me to attend events and learn at conferences, but budgets aren’t bottomless. I don’t get paid for my volunteering, but I get member rates, nowadays we get volunteer rates too, and sometimes free places. It makes it so much easier to ask, if the next question isn’t always going to be ‘how much?’

To anyone thinking about joining the Chartered Institute, I’d say - do it. And don’t think you aren’t ready for that yet. I hear that quite often from brilliant people who are early in their fundraising career. You don’t need to serve time at the coalface before joining a group. If we’re going to serve our whole fundraising community we need volunteers of all levels of experience, all backgrounds and abilities, and from every fundraising discipline. In return, it’ll give you new perspectives and it’ll help you massively in your day job.

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