As you may know, I work as a fundraising manager for a charity who support people with sight loss and other disabilities. I’m (nearly) 9 months in to being a dad now and I can definitely see some similarities between the type of job I do and what it’s been like having the bairn. Here they are.
You never switch off
Just like as a parent, you never switch off as a fundraiser. As a parent you’re constantly thinking about your baby. Is everything ready for heading out, when’s the next bottle, is it nap time, etc. Things become more natural, and easier, but you still don’t have the chance to switch off.
Fundraisers never switch off either. For me, I’m constantly noting what other charities do (and sometimes being harsh about their campaigns), looking at what’s going on in the industry and just see what inspiration you can take from what is going on around you – no matter where that comes from.
Sometimes it’s just guess work
It’s 3am in the morning the day after you’ve just got home from hospital and your baby won’t stop crying. Nappy is clean, they’ve just had a feed, no temperature and they’re just crying. What do you do? You just start doing stuff and hope it works; singing different songs, using white noise machines, gently rocking the baby in the hope of helping them settle. Each stage of parenting brings new challenges and new situations where sometimes you just have a guess.
Fundraising can be a little bit like that too. You can look at how your campaigns have done in the past and make sure all your supporter contact is spot on but sometimes you just have trust yourself and take a stab in the dark whether it be a phone call, letter, email, changing a campaign focus. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Having the right people around you can all the difference
Having support is so key for being a parent, and a fundraiser. Your partner, family, friends and people like health visitors are so important as a parent. Whether it’s medical support, babysitting, someone to whinge to, etc they are all vital to helping you through parenthood.
In fundraising having a good network of people is so important too. I’ve been lucky to work with, meet and become friends with some fantastic fundraisers and great people who have been there to bounce ideas off, have a moan at or simply just listen to and learn.
There’s always someone who thinks you should be doing something differently
In parenting it’s sterotypically a mother/mother-in-law and in fundraising it’s the trustee who thinks a golf day is the best thing going. And for some reason both of them have this urge inside of them to tell you as a parent/fundraiser what you should be doing instead of the thing you are doing.
They may have they best intentions and sometimes you just had to nod and agree to keep relationships happy but deep down it’s just a bit annoying.
You feel guilty
Parents get guilty all the time – as I write this I’m feeling guilty that we dropped the bairn off for his first day at nursery this morning. He’s probably loving it but in my head, he’s thinking that we’ve woken him up, dropped him off with some strangers and abandoned him.
Being in a job where what you do can have a direct impact on the support people feel you’re bound to feel guilty at some point. An appeal not doing as well as you’d hoped or missing an annual target can have a direct impact on the work your charity can do can be quite stressful and make you feel guilty but…
At the end of the day, it’s the best job in the world
Just like I’m lucky to be a parent, I’m consider myself lucky to be in this line of work. I get to go to work and know that what I’m doing has a positive impact on the lives of those who need support and that is pretty awesome.
Until next time.