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Three Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Consultant

The Management Centre

Three things I’ve learned since becoming a consultant…

We spoke to Cathy Anderson, our newest Senior Fundraising Consultant, on what it’s like to make the transition from being director of fundraising at a large not-for-profit organisation to becoming a consultant in the fundraising sector. Cathy was previously Fundraising Director at Greenpeace UK and has over 20 years experience in fundraising.

>Here Cathy highlights three things she has learnt from the change, as well as giving us an interesting insight into herself and the sector.

  1. First of all, our sector is ambitious as ever.  Undaunted by the ravages of recession and a fairly tough year in the media for charities, I haven’t met anyone who isn’t ambitious for their cause.  It would be easy to say it was just blind optimism, but actually, I have just met a lot of highly skilled, determined people. They see the challenges before them, and are just determined that they will overcome them for the sake of both their beneficiaries and the amazing people that support their work. It’s been fantastically heartening and inspiring to see that commitment. I have no doubt ambition is in the DNA of our sector.
  2. Secondly I’ve discovered that I’m a geek.  I’d always suspected that I may be unusual in this respect, but I’ve actually been called a geek in the last few months, and I now realise that the excitement I feel when I have the opportunity to model anything numerical, especially fundraising performance, is not universally shared! The numbers are – in the end – what we need to make work. So being able to pull them apart, then look at what variables are really driving (or stalling) our performance certainly does deliver control into the hands of fundraisers. In that respect, I don’t think I’m unusual – all good fundraisers want to be able to be able to see what’s happening with the numbers – but I think that my enthusiasm for the actual spreadsheet modelling, the working how to do it, setting it up, making it flexible, and testing it until it really works is not entirely usual. I guess it goes back to my childhood (doesn’t it always?) always trying to pull things apart into constituent bits and see how they worked…. toys, household appliances, insects (sorry about that one!)…. Fundraising modelling is just a more constructive extension of that fascination. But – in the end – I’m also sure it’s useful for those of us who struggle with this bit of fundraising, so I’m embracing my inner modelling geek with enthusiasm.
  3. And third. Well this is interesting. Lots of people who are consultants – and not just my lovely colleagues here at The Management Centre, have said welcome to the ‘other side’ – as if I have joined something that is not part of our sector. And yet, pretty-much everyone I have worked with since starting has been very enthusiastic about the work we do, and about the help, learning and development that we can bring to their organisations. Even though I’m a consultant now, I still feel deeply rooted in our sector and I’m able to do work that really makes a difference. What a great start, and how happy am I to be able to help so many different and great causes!

“Even though I’m a consultant now, I still feel deeply rooted in our sector”

Cathy is currently working on fundraising strategies for Teenage Cancer Trust and Action for Children, as well as coaching senior staff in other organisations. To contact Cathy or find out more about her, click here.

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