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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Climbing fundraising hills

This opinion piece is about 8 years old
 

Charlotte Bray believes her fellow travellers make the struggle of fundraising so worthwhile

It's not stretching the metaphor to say that working in fundraising can sometimes feel like trolling up and down some pretty big hills

I'm standing at the bottom of a massive hill.

The morning has contained several such hills. At first these were attacked with gusto and a cheery whistle (when there was breath left for such things). Later in the day, they are approached more with a hearty sigh and look of grim determination. Just how many steps are there in Cornwall? This is obviously the reason for a diet that includes cider and clotted cream.

This is the last hill in the 14-mile trek between the start of our walk in Bude and the first night's stay in Boscastle. My knees are letting me know they don't appreciate this sort of thing. The bag that looked small at 9am now feels as though I've brought my ski boots along for emergencies. Actually, there's little I wouldn't do for a handy ski lift right now.

I take a moment, apparently enjoying the view, actually getting my breath back. It is stunning. The south-west coastal path is very beautiful. The turquoise sea and white sandy beaches are reminiscent of Barra where we kayaked last year. Yellow, pink and white flowers dot the green landscape. Dramatic geology creates sea stacks and caves. And hills of course.

One more moment. A small child overtakes me. Probably wearing flip flops. Skipping.

The hot sunshine glints off something at the summit of the hill. My friend (who is like some sort of hill walking ninja) is already at the top. She's holding something – jelly babies! I start the ascent with an extra spring in my step.

The experience, despite the tough times, is rewarding and, most of all, the company is terrific

At my interview for my current job, my boss, an apparent fan of this blog, mentioned my love of hiking.

'Imagine we've been up the first two mountains. We've got planning permission for the new building (mountain one). Our members are on board and internal fundraising has been very successful (mountain two). Your job is to get the external funding needed to build on that (mountain three).'

It's not stretching the metaphor to say that working in fundraising can sometimes feel like trolling up and down some pretty big hills. Even in the space of a couple of weeks, there has been the disappointment of an application being rejected that I was sure would succeed, followed by an unexpected grant from a new source.

Negative opinion about a new project (no plans for the future are ever 100% well received) is followed by a kind letter of support. Sometimes the gifts that make a real impact can be the small but significant sacrifices. A bag of jelly babies shared at the top of a hill.

So why do we do it? For the same reasons I put my knees through over 40 miles of tough coastal path. The landscape is stunning: the size, range and scope of charities are what makes the Scottish voluntary sector the inspiring thing it is.

The views are spectacular: think for example of some of the stories we read every day, people and animals helped, beautiful heritage preserved.

The experience, despite the tough times, is rewarding and, most of all, the company is terrific. It doesn't matter how high (or low) the hills are, if your fellow travellers are keeping you company.

I was struck by this only last week at our Institute of Fundraising (Iof) meeting debating the referendum. At every IoF trust meeting we get 40 to 50 people. You'll never get to mix with a nicer group of people; so happy to share experiences and worries, to advise, support and celebrate. When you do summit that hill (a big cheque comes in) they are the first to cheer with you and share your excitement.

Working in the charity sector, it is virtually impossible not to be emotionally engaged with the cause you work for. If you aren't, you might as well be selling vacuum cleaners. This in turn makes the hill higher, but the summits all the more rewarding.

So when you are finally sitting in the pub in Boscastle with aching knees and a feeling of weary satisfaction, that well earned pudding (with accompanying cider and clotted cream) is going to taste so much nicer when it's shared with friends.

 

Comments

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Elsie Riley
about 8 years ago
Great article Charlotte, and very true!
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Betty Rose
about 8 years ago
i think you have to be quite a confident person to have fundraising jobs, you need to be willing to speak to the public!