November 22, 2016
Graham-Pelton is pleased to welcome Andy Wood as Director, Education. He will lead the development of Graham-Pelton’s services to the education sector in Europe.
Andy has worked in a variety of senior roles in the development and alumni relations sector, in both established and new operations – most recently serving as Director of Development at Queen Mary University of London. Prior to QMUL, Andy spent almost a decade as Development Director first at Mansfield College, Oxford, then at the University of Reading.
Andy has significant experience working with institutional leadership and volunteers, building teams, and developing individuals. He is an expert at starting fundraising operations from a low-level, leading them to great success. Andy has been a CASE volunteer for many years, providing training on a range of fundraising topics, and is a past Chair of the Development Directors’ Forum.
What made you decide on fundraising as a career?
My first fundraising job was managing the first-ever telephone fundraising campaign at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, which I believe was also the first run at a state school. I also made a few calls being an alumnus myself, and whilst I’d like to say I was the star caller (I wasn’t), the ability to talk to such a diverse range of people with one common thread tying them together was great experience for the last sixteen years of engaging a wide variety of people and organisations to support common causes in universities and schools.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
In my final months at Queen Mary, we closed a ten million Hong Kong dollar (just shy of £1 million) scholarship gift from a small group of philanthropists – both alumni and non-alumni. Whilst, as a fundraiser, gifts of that size are always pleasing, it was the fact that the donors’ intentions – taking talented but financially challenged students, for whom an education in the UK would otherwise be impossible – mirrored Queen Mary’s own commitment to supporting and educating students hailing from less traditional backgrounds, and the East End of London in particular. It was also a fantastic lesson in working with volunteers across cultural and economic boundaries.
What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the fundraising sector right now?
Regulation and Brexit would be at or near the top of many lists of concern, and reasonably so. However, a focus on external factors can often distract us from the elements within our control. It’s no coincidence that the institutions which have flourished in fundraising terms over the last five years or so, following the global financial crisis, were those that kept their heads from a fundraising perspective. Whether that was through sustaining what they had, or investing when and where possible, or simply focusing on maintaining and building relationships for the longer term. Development is the most youthful of professions in education and can easily fall victim to the ‘last in/first out’ school of thought when backs are against the wall. What I hope to achieve with my new colleagues at Graham-Pelton is to help our clients make the right decisions with regard to their philanthropic ambitions that will allow them to successfully weather whatever is thrown at them in the future.
Two main reasons – firstly, the people. I have known many of the European team for some time and I now have the chance to work with a group for whom I have a huge amount of respect as practitioners and leaders in their respective areas of expertise.
Secondly, but no less important – the clients. I have been able to work with a range of clients over the last two years in my role as Associate. The sector continues to make great strides, and I’m excited about working with those in the vanguard of the profession to help them achieve even greater successes, as well as those who want to follow in their footsteps and those just starting out to ensure they can succeed in the future.
I was – and think I still am – the youngest ever Club Champion at my old golf club in Lancaster, at 16 years old. The last twenty-odd years has seen those old powers fade, if you’ll pardon the pun, as career and family have taken over, but I still enjoy spoiling a good walk when I get the chance!