I was two and half years into fundraising at a national charity, and I was looking for development opportunities with the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, such as training days similar to ones I had attended before, when I came across Certificate in Fundraising qualification. I didn’t know there were professional fundraising qualifications available – and I thought how exciting!
After reading through the course content for the Certificate in Fundraising, I was slightly anxious but very excited! I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and it was going to be a big commitment on top of working full time, but I could see from the course handbook the skills, knowledge and understanding it would give me to benefit my role and help me become the best fundraiser I can be. I chose the distance-learning online option, as I felt this was most appropriate for my lifestyle and the most achievable route for me.
So, I got started! Due to being remote, I was a little concerned about having enough support and accessibility to tutors, or that I would find some of the theoretical content harder to understand with no one readily available to explain it in a way I could understand, or for me to ask questions. I needn’t have worried – start to finish, the support has been outstanding. There is a good mix of lectures, readings and practical tasks to reinforce learning and cater to all learning styles. The tutors were available whenever I needed them. My tutor, Emma, always responded quickly, giving me different perspectives and alternate ways of approaching something so I could understand better.
The support from the team in regards to my many deadline extension requests, due to chronic illness and a disability, has been amazing. The course usually takes 1 academic year (9 months) to complete, but it took me 20 months, and because of my health it was a monumental struggle – but I was determined. The team were fantastic, very welcoming and accommodating, at no point did I feel nervous to ask for support, nor embarrassed, or like I was being a nuisance. I was fully supported the entire time. I’m not sure I could have finished without their support.
The course content is excellent, grounded in research, evidence and theory. I was already a couple of years into fundraising and using generally accepted techniques, and I knew they worked, but this course taught me why and how they work, giving me a deeper understanding and informing my decision-making. The course also showed me how to compose fundraising copy, conduct a fundraising audit and devise a full fundraising strategy, which are crucial, operationally useful skills.
I conducted an audit of the past 5 year’s trusts fundraising performance for the charity I was working for at the time, highlighting trends, strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and making recommendations to the Director of Fundraising. It is large organisation with thousands of employees, I wasn’t sure if my recommendations would be heard, but they were. As part of a review, the audit findings were used to inform strategy and changes to our brand, marketing and fundraising messaging, as recommended. I wouldn’t have had the skills to conduct an operationally useful audit or the confidence to submit it without the Certificate.
Since then, I have secured a role at Kaleidoscope Plus Group, an amazing, inspirational, national mental health charity, as the first and sole fundraiser, responsible for implementing a trusts and foundations fundraising strategy as well as a legacy fundraising strategy. It’s such a huge opportunity, my dream role for a cause I am passionate about, and I wouldn’t have the skills, knowledge or confidence to even apply for a self-directed role like this, without this course.
I use what I have learnt on a daily basis, whether that’s around strategy and planning, creating fundraising copy or relationship management, and these are skills I will take with me throughout my fundraising career, so thank you, Chartered Institute!