Education in Action: Diploma in Fundraising

05 December 2022
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#CIOFGrad Diploma

The Diploma in Fundraising is a chance for participants to build on existing experience and skills to consolidate and expand their knowledge in all key aspects of fundraising. Rachel Taylor, Income Development & Relationships Manager at the charity Caritas Salford tells us why it has been so valuable to her.

Early career

I joined fundraising after 20 years in business development and a brief time (four years) as a primary school teacher in a Catholic school. Working with young people helped to deepen my faith, and their enthusiasm for what is fair led me to thinking about social injustices and how I could help to make a difference in the world. I decided I could put my sales skills to use for the common good and decided I wanted to join our local charity, Caritas, which means ‘love in action.’ I joined in August 2019 as their Trusts & Grants officer. 

Challenging times

After 6 months of growing Trust income for revenue purposes, we suddenly faced a global pandemic and our services all stayed open but working in a different way to respond to need. I just got my head down and applied for every single emergency grant going. We were really fortunate and secured over £200k in just 10 weeks. It was a whirlwind!

The opportunity to apply to be Head of Income Development came up, so I went for it – and got it. I had to learn everything from scratch – how to set up a CRM supporter database, fundraising campaigns for Christmas, online giving, fundraising events, virtual fundraising, etc.

We had very little fundraising in place in our charity at the time, and the world had changed anyway, because of COVID. Caritas had appointed an Assistant Director who came along at the right time to support me in getting the infrastructure in place to pivot our approaches. I realised I needed training and looked at what the Chartered Institute of Fundraising was advertising. I spoke to senior people in fundraising for what they thought about doing a qualification, including a trusted and respected colleague in Birmingham, who had already completed this course.

Learning with Chartered Institute

I learned so much from the Diploma in Fundraising, which I started in August 2021 and did for a year. How to do a fundraising audit, consider relevant macro-economic issues that might affect giving, what other charities do in our market, our audiences and stewardship, case for support, management theories...the list goes on. It grew my knowledge of the sector and gave me a richer understanding of what I could be doing to grow our fundraising income at Caritas.

The tutors are fantastic – rich in knowledge and generous with time. And I also benefited from the peer to peer support the course offers. We set up a WhatsApp group which has been wonderfully supportive and brilliant for clarifying any confusion or panic we might have personally been feeling related to assignments and exams. It was hard to juggle around the demands of being a fundraiser and it was a busy time of year, but it’s always busy!

Education in action

I use the skills I have learned all the time. To start with, it was essential in aligning our fundraising strategy with our charity’s new strategy coming out of the pandemic. Our charity carried out an organisational capacity review at the beginning of 2021, in order to see how we could build back and pivot following the effects of the pandemic.

We took our fundraising online. We developed campaigns using social media and e-newsletters. We introduced a CRM database and began to segment our donors, in order to better understand and communicate with them.

It has helped me with marketing - considering why people choose to give and how best to speak to them; planning how to make more of our corporate relationships, legacy marketing, using different channels, and so on. 

I believe in lifelong learning to help develop skills and expertise to support the charity and sector – and crucially the community we serve.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
Income Development and Relationship Manager, Caritas Salford
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