I’d always hoped that when it came to look back at my time at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising I’d have some real lightbulb moments to remember; instances of genuine clarity when I knew that for me I was in the right role at the right time.
I’ve been lucky to have lots of these moments over the last 10 years. But this September I’ll be moving on to a different role at a new organisation and so I’ve been reflecting on some of those moments I’ll most remember. Don’t worry I won’t list them all! But perhaps you’ll indulge me with two that bookmark my time here.
The first lightbulb moment was just after I’d started here when I heard someone on the radio who had been bereaved say “Being able to fundraise saved my life.” Listening to them made an instant impression on me as for the first – but not last - time I realised the act of raising money for a cause could have such a transformational and meaningful impact on someone’s life.
The most recent was just a few months ago when I had the opportunity to talk with a range of our members to share and celebrate stories about who they are and why they do what they do. The thing that I loved was the humanity it brought out, both in what it means to be a fundraiser, but also who fundraisers are as people and how life and events shapes and drives them. Sometimes a policy & comms job can be a bit technical – regulations, legislation, parliamentary processes, press deadlines. But being able to ground my work in the experiences and stories of the people that I am working for, gave me continued inspiration and motivation. It’s these kind of stories I know I’ll remember.
Over my 10 years here I hope I’ve helped fundraisers navigate big regulatory changes as I worked closely with the Fundraising Regulator as it was being set up and with transfer of the Code of Fundraising Practice, as well as helping fundraisers to get to grips with GDPR. I have been proud to lead our work on producing sector-wide guidance on fundraising with people in vulnerable circumstances, Trustees and fundraising, and gift acceptance or refusal. COVID was an awful time for so many, but fundraising stepped up to deliver, and I am glad I could work with Government to produce guidance on fundraising safely, as well as join up with colleagues across the sector to research the impact on charities and advocate to secure emergency funding.
I’ve also relished the chance to speak up about fundraising to civil servants, Government Ministers, and the Information Commissioner, as well as appear on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky news channels to respond when prominent stories concerning fundraising and charities have been in the public eye.
I kind of envy the person that takes over from me. (It’s a bit like the feeling I have for people who are yet to watch The Shawshank Redemption for the first time.) You’ll get to work with a great team and a brilliant community of 5,000 members representing so many inspiring and important causes. You’ll get to learn so much about ‘life’ through the prism of fundraising: you’ll be inspired by the human need to give and be able to work on policy areas as diverse as charity law, data protection, gambling, community cohesion and so many others. And FYI, lookout, something called AI is on the way and won’t come with easy answers!
If anyone wanted to chat to talk about the role then please do get in touch. For those members, partners, colleagues and volunteers who I won’t get to say goodbye to in person – I’m sure I owe each and every one of you more thanks and appreciation than you owe me. It’s been a blast and a privilege. And while I’ve never been able to put a suit jacket on quite as stylishly as Jed Bartlett, it’s time to tap on the table and look ahead to say ‘what’s next?’.