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#CareersInCharity: An Interview with Anna Jones, Fundraising Director at CALM

 

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.

 

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is an award-winning charity dedicated to preventing male suicide, the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. Their end goal is a happier, less miserable life – for you, your friends, your family and for all men.

CALM takes an active and positive approach to change this dark picture to a brighter and more encouraging future. This is done in two ways:

  1. They operate on the frontline, delivering services to men who are feeling down or distressed, supporting the people around them and those bereaved by suicide.
  2. They campaign for long-term culture change to redefine and open up masculinity, so that any man in crisis feels able to seek help.

 

Anna Jones is the Fundraising Director at CALM, overseeing the fundraising team and all areas of income to CALM, with particular focus on corporate relationships.

 

She has worked in the charity sector for over 10 years, concentrating on a variety of functions, including marketing, education, conferences, B2B sales and now fundraising.

 

We interviewed Anna 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 does a Fundraising Director do? What does a typical day look like?

As the Fundraising Director at CALM, I’m responsible for all income into the charity, and all the activities we undertake on a day to day basis to generate that income. I report on our progress to the CEO while also managing a team of six fundraisers and one volunteering coordinator.

 

A fair amount of my time is dedicated to supporting my team to be able to meet our income targets. Having worked in a variety of areas of fundraising myself, a lot of this time means advising on approaches or processes that I have learnt on the job from my previous experiences. The team is very dedicated and the fact that we’re dealing with suicide every day can be tough, so there’s also a fair amount of pastoral care to the role.

 

I also develop the strategy for the department – plotting out a plan of action for the next few years so that we can continue to increase income to the charity, and therefore help more men who need it. I’ll work on making processes more efficient, figuring out where we can invest more time or money in order to expand our income and making sure our approach is in line with the corporate strategy. As a member of senior management I also feed into this strategy, and work with the other directors and CEO to steer the charity in the right direction.

 

A typical day starts with planning and brainstorming on my early morning dog walk. This is definitely when I have my best ideas and I’ll send a couple of messages to team members so I don’t forget them. I’ll also probably have a 1-2-1 with at least one of the team to check in with them and see how they’re getting on, though I also like to sit in the middle of the team in the office so I can keep up with everything that’s going on.

 

Then, I might have a cross-departmental meeting, bringing together people from across CALM who work in similar areas, such as supporter management or corporate partnerships, to ensure we’re learning from each other and working efficiently. I also oversee a number of our corporate partnerships who I may have meetings with, preparing proposals, or catching up on their progress. I reconcile our income on a monthly basis – checking that what we have in our accounts is what the fundraising team thinks we should have had in. I will then do some analysis on where the money is coming from, what’s working, what isn’t and what else we could do to continue to drive income.

 

What drove you to the charity sector, rather than the private or public sectors?

My mum always worked in the charity sector, so I suspect it was partly because I wanted to please her! I wanted to be a bank manager when I was little (no idea why!), and I guess this isn’t a million miles from it.

 

I believe strongly in the charity sector, and I think that it so often encapsulates all that is good with the world. I’ve never thought of myself as altruistic enough to do frontline charity work, so I would rather focus on making charities as business-like as possible in their income generation and core functions. If charities can operate as businesses, they can run more efficiently and have a greater impact on the change they’re trying to make.

 

What do you think is the most important skill for someone in your role to have?

So much diplomacy! It’s a skill that doesn’t come naturally to me, so I’ve had to work hard at it. You also need to be confident about making decisions, which only really comes with experience of getting things wrong!

 

What advice would you give a graduate looking to get into the charity sector?

It’s a much more competitive industry than you might think, so don’t treat it as a back-up plan. Make sure you’re getting experience in the industry through volunteering – this is valued more than any other sector. I’m so impressed these days by graduates and the experience they have already built up. The ideal experience will vary somewhat, depending on what you want to get into, but anything is a bonus – from event management to fundraising or being a member of societies.

 

Don’t be too proud to start at the bottom. You can learn so much from assistant roles, and once you’ve had that first job, so many more doors open for you.

 

Students interested in supporting CALM should go to: https://www.thecalmzone.net/calm-students/

 

Social media: @annarj; @thecalmzone

 

 

 

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