CareersInCharity: An Interview with Kerry Russell, Director of Income
GISMA Business School, London School of Business and Finance, and University of Law Business School have partnered for a campaign to raise awareness of the UN’s International Day of Charity, and raise the profile of the charity sector as a rewarding career destination for graduates.
In addition we’ll be soon launching an Accelerating Women’s Careers executive education programme which aims to inspire and provide women with the skills for future success.
Kerry Russell has had a flourishing career in charity, working in a number of health related charities and successfully progressing from community and events fundraising roles to now Director of Income Generation for CoppaFeel!. With the likes of Teenage Cancer Trust and AsthmaUK, Kerry has a perfect blend of charity experience to competently organise fundraising events, negotiate large partnership agreements and confidently fundraise for CoppaFeel! to ensure a healthy future for the charity.
We interviewed Kerry for the International Day of Charity 2018, to raise awareness about how the charity sector can be an incredibly rewarding career destination for graduates.
What is CoppaFeel!?
Checking your breasts can be fun but it can also be lifesaving. We’re a breast cancer charity and aim to educate people about getting to know their breasts. One day this could save your life. Coppafeel! was founded by Kris and Maren, twin sisters, after Kris was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 23 – her aim is to make sure that other people don’t have to suffer in the same way.
What does the Director of Income Generation do? What does a typical day look like?
I am responsible for all income generating streams for the charity, so naturally any day can be extremely varied and involve working on a number of different projects. This can be from traditional fundraising events like treks, runs, cycling events and so on, all the way through to corporate partnerships and working with these organisations who want to support us in a number of ways.
Finally, I manage a team of three so each requires my time to ensure they are adequately supported and motivated to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
What drove you to the charity sector, rather than the private or public sectors?
Spending my time making a difference – I’m personally very motivating to spend my time and energy to do that. I love being part of the organisation.
What is the most fun or rewarding thing you’ve done in CoppaFeel! To date?
It’s all about the life changing/saving experiences and hearing these stories first hand. Last year over sixty people went to Oman to participate in a five day trek through the desert. We worked with the Sun newspaper who covered the before, during and after of the event, which really maximised coverage and awareness of our charity. The project even involved working with celebrity captains who took part which was a crucial part of the campaign as these influencers enabled us to reach new audiences and grew our social media following.
Overall the campaign raised over £250k which is an amazing feat, but each fundraising event, big or small, is really important to us, we’re forever thankful to our volunteer and fundraisers.
Any funky benefits or pros of working for CoppaFeel!?
We’re a pretty young and modern organisation, so whilst the charity sector is not well known to offer too many benefits and ‘perks’, we do offer a fun environment with like-minded, friendly and welcoming people.
We have yoga in the office, have team brunches and do regular away days to keep spirits high and to ensure we’re all on the same wavelength and take a moment to just be a team – here it is important to note that charities really do appreciate the need for a healthy/work-life balance, although we do still work hard and are committed to our jobs! We are a competitive bunch too, having recently won our soft ball tournament in which we have a team of sporty colleagues representing CoppaFeel!
The organisation is flexible to suit the individual, so we can offer working from home, flexi-working and I often find myself even working in partners offices, which I find just energises me from being in different environments that suit my daily tasks, meetings or needs.
What do you think is the most important skill for someone in your role to have?
So I’d like to focus on three skills as each are equally as important for different reasons.
- People skills are super important – it is vital to build relationships with partners, fundraisers and other stakeholders, so having the flexibility to work in different environments and to meet people from all walks of life is essential.
- Good organisation skills – Whether it is working in a small or large charity, there are lots of opportunities to be involved with projects so you need to be very hands-on and able to prioritise. I always ask myself ‘what will have the biggest impact for the charity?’ and how can I prioritise accordingly.
- Good sense of humour and able to maintain a balance – You can be surrounded by amazing stories which are truly inspirational. In contrast you are also surrounded by stories that are overwhelming, so it is important to step back, find humour at times and to see the bigger picture along with the positive impact that the charity is making.
What advice would you give a graduate looking to get into the charity sector?
I’d say that any individual looking to work in the charity sector needs to have team spirit, a lot of enthusiasm, and lots of energy. Jobs can vary so much within charities and roles so I’d also advise work experience, volunteering or helping with events or fundraising activities will also provide that insight into the charity and the sector, helping you to discover what you enjoy doing.
Naturally, if you do get to the interview stage, do your homework on the specific charity as it shows enthusiasm and aptitude for preparation.