Sally Insley - Head of Public Fundraising, New Life Charity

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Sally Insley

In this blog, Sally Insley, Head of Public Fundraising at New Life Charity, tells us about her career in fundraising, the challenges it brings and the power of connections.

The desire to make a difference

I ‘fell’ into fundraising over ten years ago when I took on the role as Community Fundraiser for Acorns Children's Hospice in the West Midlands. As a child, we were always aware of the great work that they did to help local children and families, but I had never thought about it as a career. I was captivated by the enthusiasm of the fundraising team and stunned at how much they needed to raise for such an incredible charity. I knew immediately that I wanted to join a team that made a real difference.

And that is what I love about my job – the positive impact you can make to the lives of others.

A varied career

The scope of opportunities available to fundraising professionals is vast, and I’d encourage others to follow their passion: community, corporate, philanthropy, supporter care, campaigning, data, leadership…a career in fundraising can literally open so many doors for you. It also keeps it fun and fresh – you can learn so much. In my career I have spanned a number of income streams, which enables me to manage our Supporter Care team here at Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children.

A career in fundraising is so exciting as no two days are the same. One day I could be working on an individual giving campaign and meeting with our beneficiaries, another day could see me going out to present to potential supporters or attend a cheque presentation.

Covid 19 challenges

I spent 2 years at Primrose Hospice moving into a new role as Fundraising Manager two weeks before the pandemic hit. I hadn’t been given time to bond with my team and suddenly had to make difficult decisions regarding furlough, which income streams to focus on and how to become innovative during such an unprecedented time. Due to Covid, all face-to-face fundraising came to an immediate halt and took some time to slowly reappear due to restrictions and increasing confidence in the public. We had some amazing supporters who continued to donate, and those who took part in virtual challenges, something that really took off! The JustGiving 2.6 challenge really helped to boost our funds as a team of local cyclists took part in the event virtually, raising over £10k for the hospice. We also introduced a playlist of songs via Give Penny and a virtual quiz to increase staff and volunteer engagement. The support I felt from the fundraising community during that time was a great comfort, none of us had faced a pandemic before, we found so much strength from one another.

Beneficiaries make it worthwhile

The best thing is always working with beneficiaries. Most recently, I’ve been working with a wonderful family who are part of our Newlife Charity’s Christmas campaign. Having direct contact with them, being able to tell their personal story and relay that to our donors has been a wonderful experience. Fundraising can be an incredibly humbling profession, whilst those we support are always grateful for what we do, I don’t think we can ever express enough just how grateful we are for them sharing their personal experiences with us.

Support from Chartered Institute of Fundraising

Throughout my career, the Chartered Institute of Fundraising has been an enormous aide and reassurance. In 2014, when I was relatively new to the profession, I started by attending the local ‘First Thursday’ sessions with Chartered Institute West Midlands in 2014. The monthly meetings were always a joy to attend, it was such a warm and welcoming community. It provided a safe space to talk to my peers – I felt like I’d found my people! At the time, I knew the committee were recruiting and I wanted to support other fundraisers, so I officially joined the committee in January 2015 and never looked back.

The power of connections

We meet monthly and offer this as a hybrid option however the majority of us meet face to face. At the moment we're busy making plans for 2023, looking at how we can extend our reach across the West Midlands region, which training and networking opportunities we can offer locally and most importantly, pulling together our annual conference for autumn 2023. Being a committee member, you can commit to as much or as little as you can, the satisfaction remains that anything you do will contribute to supporting local fundraisers.

The most rewarding part is definitely connecting fundraisers and building a supportive network. Even throughout Covid we carried on hosting our monthly ‘First Thursday’ meetings virtually as we knew how beneficial they were for people, and the value they got from coming together. We continued to have guest speakers covering a range of topics, shared learnings and on some occasions, acted as a safe space for people to share worries or concerns.

We returned to face-to-face meetings earlier this year, and it’s been great. I always get a real buzz when we bring fundraisers together in the room and they share information, ideas, and develop relationships.

I am proud to act as Chair for the CIOF West Midlands region. Over the past 8 years I have attended several training sessions with the Chartered Institute which have helped me to develop my own learnings. Having additional support from a range of people from HQ has been a big help, especially Ronnie Young, Volunteers Manager. And roles such as Head of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion held by David Mbaziira really show the progress that is being made across the sector and I’m proud to play a small part in championing this locally and helping us to reach out to more of the diverse communities that we support across the West Midlands region.

I co-deliver the Introduction to Fundraising session in the West Midlands to new fundraisers with less than 6 months experience. Seeing them leave after a full day’s training, feeling inspired and motivated, is absolutely the best feeling.

The power of volunteering

Volunteers are the backbone of the third sector, whether it’s holding somebody’s hand in a hospice, sorting through clothes in a charity shop or donating your time to support with admin – we wouldn’t be able to make the positive changes without you. And it all comes back to what I started with – making a difference. Some do so through their jobs, some through donations, and some through offering their time. Working together, we can change lives.

Sally Insley
Sally Insley
Head of Public Fundraising, New Life Charity
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