‘It felt incredibly refreshing to share experiences with colleagues from the wider sector’

28/06/2021 | by Natalie Chan

Last year Natalie Chan attended Fundraising Convention Online with a RAISE bursary. In this Q&A she explains why it was so beneficial to share experiences and challenges with other fundraisers at Fundraising Convention.

1. Why did you attend Fundraising Convention Online last year?

Around this time last year during the pandemic, I was let go from my previous role as Development and Marketing Assistant at a charitable arts organisation and was actively job-seeking, I felt attending Fundraising Convention would definitely add to my skillsets and help me stand out in the job search process hence wanted to go.

I was particularly keen to remain connected to colleagues across the sector, keeping up to date with trends. I also wanted to upskill and learn more in corporate fundraising which is not the area I’ve previously worked in

2. How did you find Fundraising Convention Online worked being online?

I’ve only been to the online convention and not the in-person one so I don’t have that experience to compare with. But from my perspective, it worked really well for me, I love networking, talking to people and socialising, but I also crave time for myself, for example, in the middle of the day after say two very exciting meetings with lots of people, I love to have 10 minutes just for myself and / or nap before conferencing again (literally, I’m now back in the office with an incredible team and I still crave having 5 minutes outside in my headphones dancing to myself every hour!!), so it being online & me being at home felt comfortable and safe.

3. Coming from an arts fundraising background, how did Fundraising Convention Online specifically benefit you? 

As the arts sector, it goes without saying that we’ve faced huge fundraising challenges as well as and other financial – due to not being able to open, sell tickets etc. It’s very easy to be stuck in our bubble and not realising, actually, whilst it’s not exactly the same, the wider charity sector is facing very similar challenges, such as not being able to do community fundraising events, bake sell, marathon runs. It felt incredibly refreshing to share experiences with colleagues from the wider sector and certainly empowered me to think more innovatively and boldly about fundraising.

4. Would you recommend others at arts organisation apply for a RAISE bursary?

Absolutely, alongside all the benefits and positive experience I shared, and just to be totally honest and transparent, the fact that you’re applying and hopefully successfully obtaining a bursary to support your professional development is a really attractive quality to employers.

5. Are there any learnings from Fundraising Convention that you’ve been able to apply to your job?

Gosh so many, but one thing that was particularly memorable was the funders panel on the last day, where funders were sharing honestly about their process distributing emergency grants in relation to COVID-19. I will now always remember that behind every organisation, trust or business, are human beings. As General Manager at Creative Youth, I liaise with a lot of people on a daily basis and many of them are valuable stakeholders, I’ve been applying that and building genuine and authentic relationships with others with kindness, empathy and tenacity.

6. What was your highlight from Fundraising Convention last year?

There was one session about public speaking and the facilitator challenged attendees to put themselves forward to do a 1 minute speech about any topic of their choice, which I did, and I shared my personal experience of applying for emergency funding to Arts Council England, Stage One, Film TV Charity and others as an individual during the pandemic. I have learnt that my lived experience is valuable and inspiring to others and feel very proud about that.

7. Would you recommend someone attend Fundraising Convention Online?

Absolutely – Fundraising Convention, I have realised that whilst most of my experiences are in the arts, individual giving and trusts & foundations, they are 100% transferrable. I’ve since then applied and got interviewed for a Development Manager (Corporate) role and a Fundraising Officer role at a non-arts charity, the convention gave me the confidence to do it. I didn’t get both jobs, and I’m so lucky to be working for a wonderful organisation (Creative Youth) as General Manager now, but that was a huge empowerment for me.

Natalie Chan is General Manager at Creative Youth