We caught up with Jo, our new Head of Philanthropy and Major Partnerships who shared why the work of our fundraising team is so important, and why it isn’t just about us as a charity. It’s about listening to why you might want to get involved with the giving.
Hi, I’m Jo. I’m a mum of two children (think adults – not kids!) and I’m recently divorced, motivate others as an inspirational speaker, and I’m an essential oils educator in my free time. Before coming here, I was Hotel Chocolat’s Regional Experiential Manager, based in Covent Garden, London, managing delicious chocolate tasting experiences for corporate businesses and the public. I used to be a national journalist and I’m a published author. I also paint.
I’d wanted to move into a charity role for the past five years, over which time I’ve evolved to a more holistic way of living and looking at the world. I felt drawn to a role where I follow my purpose and make a positive difference to others, and my role allows me to combine my skill sets of relationship building and networking with writing and being creative.
We’re moving to work in a way that reflects the positive impact our services have on those who need us. We want every communication to tangibly demonstrate the real-life outcomes for those who come through our doors and leave months later, having been emotionally supported by the people they meet. Our services, which can be accessed for free, have to be funded of course, and the biggest challenges we face are finding the right grants to apply for, which are aligned to our cause and to keep up with the growing demand by finding extra sources of income. The current economic climate means everyone is thinking much more carefully about where their money goes and how it’s spent, and this means we have to work much harder at finding new trusts and foundations, nurturing new corporate relationships and building stronger and better bonds with funders and the volunteers who already support us.
I divide my time between working at our Head Office in Chandler’s Ford, working from home and being out and about meeting potential supporters at events and networking groups across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. I work through emails from interested parties, attend meetings, liaise with businesses who have made us their charity of the year, speak at corporate events, set budgets and write strategy reports for the years ahead. I oversee applications and I’m currently working with colleagues to create a database of major donors who share our vision of providing free support to clients within their local area.
Our charity works on a person-centred basis, which means we provide packages of tailored support for anyone affected by cancer. This might be someone at any stage of their cancer diagnosis, or it might be a loved one who is supporting them. We offer a breadth of help across different areas; from counselling to Reiki and from peer support to arts and craft groups, through our four support centres and our online hub. Everything is available within your local community. Because we don’t receive any government funding, it’s crucial that people support us in any way they can. If we didn’t receive ongoing donations and nobody participated in our challenges and events and partnerships, we couldn’t pay for the services we deliver. We also rely on volunteers to help man our events, support us in our shops, and befriend in our support centres, and online.
Clients often report coming to us with feelings of low mood, isolation and pain, which improves during the time they spend with us, so the changes we can facilitate have a profound effect.
In its origins, philanthropy’s literal definition is Phil – to love, and Anthro – mankind, which I find amazing as it really is the essence of an abundant mindset – loving your fellow man, which in turn makes us feel good, too. Today, it generally refers to charitable acts or giving to help others or society as a whole. The act of giving or helping in our setting obviously helps our clients tremendously, as more people are able to receive more treatments, guidance and therapies as a result of monies received or time given.
The work we do in the fundraising team is tremendously important because it enables us to provide for those who need us, but I think something that is overlooked with philanthropy is that it isn’t just about us as a charity. It’s about how we might help the person or organisation who might want to get involved with the giving. People and businesses really want to give back and do something philanthropic for all kinds of reasons. It’s down to us to listen to what that might be. For example, people donate money or time because of personal experiences, wanting to divert wealth, social responsibility or striving to be a better workplace for their employees.
I want people to know I’m here for the conversation. To find out how we might work with you to achieve your goals while supporting local people affected by cancer.