Meet Andrew Johnson

“Half of my time I am advising clients what not to spend money on!”

Andrew Johnson Photo.jpg

“Consultants – aren’t they all boring academic theorists? That’s not for me – I’m a creative thinker and a doer.” That was the response I had when an old boss tried to persuade me into the world of charity consultancy.

After working at large charities (BHF and CRUK), I was enticed into consultancy by said former boss and thought I’d give it a try for a short while until I got a ‘proper’ job again. Eight years later I guess this is now my proper job.

Following a marketing degree and a short stint in publishing, I was undertaking a short-term contract for COI (the Government’s communications agency) when I had my eureka moment. Looking in the loo mirrors one day, I was suddenly struck by the realisation that I could use all this marketing know-how and learning for good! Who knew?! In my mid 20s I was suddenly running million-pound national TV sponsorship campaigns for the Department of Education and national Fire Safety campaigns for the Home Office. It all finally made sense – marketing could be a force for good.

As a Marketing & Fundraising Consultant, I now split my time between different charity clients and different skillsets. What gets me out of bed (apart from the noisy sheep outside when I’m working from home) is working with people and teams to get creative and use innovative approaches to solve problems and develop new realistic strategies.

What I love about being part of the Action Planning community of consultants is that we’ve all been there and worn the t-shirt. We can help clients because we’ve been in their shoes. Rather than blinding them with science, we can offer real practical advice grounded in reality. The way in which we all work is to act as a critical friend, to help clients identify and, if necessary, implement realistic and practical solutions that save them time and money. Half of my time I am advising clients what not to spend money on!

Sometimes it hurts my brain, as a typical day can involve so many different things. Just in the last few days I’ve been:

  • Helping a homeless charity develop a survey for supporterst to get read insight into thousands of donors and work out how to raise more money for existing contacts, whilst also developing a strategy to target and acquire new 'look-a-likes'
  • Coaching two fundraisers from a cancer charity to give them confidence to go out and target new companies after working up new, refreshed propositions for them;

  • Writing two briefs for prospect research for two different clients: one to find new Trust and Foundation funders, one to find new companies to target;

  • Enjoying working with one of my oldest friends (old as in time as friends, not age!) to develop a joint proposal for a fascinating piece of research and strategy work for a major UK funder;

  • Developing and signing off a design brief for a health policy charity to help them find an agency to refresh their brand, after I led the development of their new organisational strategy last year, and also doing some thinking to plan out their Board Away Day this coming April;

  • Working up project briefs for a major medical college to help them decide which of their key projects are ‘ready’ for funding bids;

Whether it’s getting to know new clients, old clients becoming friends or spending quality time ‘listening’ to beneficiaries, stakeholders and supporters on their behalf, it’s all about the people. I’ve realised over time that even though I work remotely some of the time, the people side of the job is what I enjoy most.