July 18, 2015
I am standing at the top of a 10-story building dressed as a badger for a sponsored abseil. I am 21, and this is my first job in fundraising. It’s fun and interesting. It also pays very, very badly, and means I am rarely at home.
I am watching refugee children’s paintings being auctioned for thousands of pounds to some of London’s wealthiest residents. I am 29. I feel proud to be making a difference.
Between these and other highlights, there have been many moments when I have thought fundraising wasn’t for me. The times when budgets were cut. When trustees or colleagues didn’t understand the fundraising process. When I was staying in another cheap hotel in another place rather than being in my home. When I compared my lifestyle with that of my friends working in the corporate sector. I often really liked my job, but these ‘downsides’ stopped me truly loving it.
In the last 10 years, something wonderful has happened. All the work I put in in the first decade of my career – the contacts I made, the lessons I learnt, and the experiences I have had – have woven together into a rich fabric. I feel lucky to do what I do and to experience all I experience. I have fallen in love with my work.
It is wonderful when someone who you fundraised with 12 years ago reconnects through LinkedIn and asks you to help them again. It’s amazing when you see colleagues you worked with early in your careers taking leading roles in the sector. It’s a true privilege to work with enthusiastic fundraising teams and extraordinary institutions. If I had known at 21 or 29 how much I would love my job at 43, I would have enjoyed it more. I would have known it was worth the effort, the hard work, the frustration, and the salary sacrifice. I am never going to be rich in monetary terms, but I am so wealthy in experience.
So I am sending this message to that 21-year-old abseiling badger and the 29-year-old auction organiser to remind them to relish every moment. Fundraising really is a wonderful career.
– Susie Hills, Managing Director