Helping a fundraiser to hit the ground running

Imperial Health Charity

“The sessions with Annabel were very relaxed and friendly and it was really helpful to get her insight. Her knowledge of the industry is extensive. She helped to prioritise what was most important and to keep myself motivated, as it’s a much more long-term process than I was used to. Best piece of advice? Just pick up the phone and talk to people – don’t rely on email.”

Susan Quach, Philanthropy Manager, Imperial Health Charity

Imperial Health Charity (IHC) helps to improve the hospital experience at the five Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals through grants, arts, volunteering and fundraising. Outcomes of the charity’s work include improving patient care, enhancing the wellbeing of Trust staff and enabling pioneering innovation at the hospitals. In order to enhance the fundraising element, IHC took on a new Philanthropy Manager, Susan Quach, who was required to manage major donors and trusts.

Susan came from an events background and a period with GOSH, which had given her major donor experience. However, by her own admission, the Trust and Foundation side was completely new to her. We were asked to provide Susan with training to bring her up to speed with these aspects of her job and give her confidence in her new job.

Action Planning put the brief in the hands of Annabel James, one of our most experienced consultants, who worked in corporate fundraising for the NSPCC and Capital Radio prior to her 10-year career as a consultant.

Annabel sent Susan a list of questions to gather what she wanted to get out of the training and then spent an hour on the phone to get an understanding of what she did and didn't know. She followed this up with some useful reading matter. She then put together two half-day sessions spent with Susan in person, during which they focused on the prospect list, developing a case for support and building networks and relationships.

A key insight for Susan was understanding how trusts and foundations work and how they differ from major donors in terms of the relationships and process required in applying for funding.

Annabel’s sessions with Susan revealed the need to develop the prospect list – an immediate practical benefit. Annabel went through the list and picked out 20-30 to prioritise and was able to advise Susan on their individual expectations – a major time saving. They were also able to work together on an application for a large funding opportunity, which had made it through to the final round.

After six months, Susan was feeling confident and comfortable in the role of Philanthropy Manager, as well as dividing her time with major donors, and had  grown accustomed to the new way of working

Consultant’s insight:
Starting a new job is daunting. Starting a new job and a newly created role can be doubly challenging, so it was a real pleasure to support Susan in her first few weeks. The great thing about fundraising is that the skills required are similar whether it be for major donors, corporates or trusts/foundations. But there are also specifics and nuances for each, most of which are gained over time and through on-the-job experience.  

Susan brings a wealth of fundraising expertise to her new role, so together we were able to focus on the specifics of trust/foundation fundraising that would enable her to hit the ground running by giving her the tools and some of the short-cuts to success. These included prioritising a prospect list across the calendar year to avoid the mad dash to meet deadlines; how to balance the workload to include large applications and smaller ones – to try and minimise the highs and lows of the application process. We talked about how best to approach individual trusts for information, and the kinds of support and help that is widely available.

By splitting our time together over a few weeks we were able to discuss day- to-day priorities rather than being purely theoretical.

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