Alice Sockett: Insight and Experience

By December 20, 2018 News & Events

Graham-Pelton is pleased to welcome Alice Sockett as a new Consultant.

Prior to joining Graham-Pelton, Alice was responsible for realigning the Legacy and In Memoriam Gifts programme at Cardiff University. This was crucial in underpinning Cardiff University’s ambitious strategy to treble new funds secured from philanthropic sources.

Previously, Alice held development positions with Cardiff Metropolitan University, including managing the Development and Alumni Relations team, deputising for the Director of Development where necessary. She significantly increased alumni giving through targeted fundraising appeals and campaigns, as well as developed, managed, and evaluated fundraising strategies and action plans. Alice has also fundraised and volunteered for arts, health, and children’s charities.

Alice recently shared her thoughts on her early interest in fundraising, the challenges of fundraising in the U.K., and her passion for her work.

When you began as a student caller on fundraising campaigns years ago, did you have any idea that you might one day work in fundraising? 

I did. That job was a really transformative experience for me. I had come over to the U.S. the summer before that for a direct sales job where I sold door-to-door. When I came back to the U.K. I knew I wanted to use my sales skills to do some good. Then the student caller job at the University of Reading came up and I loved everything about it. I had not been involved in any kind of strategic fundraising before that so just phoning people and asking for £20 a month—which, as a student, was a huge amount of money—and hearing them say yes was powerful.  Seeing the impact of that and being able to report back was amazing.  I loved it, called on four annual fund campaigns, and knew that HE fundraising was what I would really like to do long-term.

When you were running the Legacy and In Memoriam gifts programme at Cardiff University, was there any one aspect that stuck out to you as being monumental? 

Absolutely. Just being able to play a part in getting the word out about the difference and the impact that legacies make at the University was monumental. People may think that when they leave money to a university it will just go into a black hole. But seeing it from the other end proved quite the opposite. Cardiff University was very good at aligning causes with the donors who had left money. Working with the executors and the family of the deceased, we would really look at who the donor was and what they were hoping to achieve. For example, an individual left a legacy in memory of a relative. We found out from the family that this relative had died from tuberculosis, so we used the gift to fund Ph.D.’s in tuberculosis research. It was incredibly rewarding to help make this happen.

Related, was there any aspect that was particularly challenging?

Sometimes it can be challenging in a big institution to make sure all people internally know where to send prospects. For example, a colleague of mine once overheard someone at the main University reception saying that they wanted to make a donation and were incorrectly told, “Oh no, I don’t think we can do that.” Fortunately, my colleague was there and was able to step in and help the donor to fulfil her gift. Blocks like that in the donor experience and in those lines of communication can be really challenging.

You have been in philanthropy for a while. How do you see philanthropy at this point in time? Do you think it has changed from when you began and how so?

What really resonated with me when I first started in university fundraising is the fact that there was a lot of education to be done within the U.K. in regard to establishing that universities are charities. Whereas, twenty years ago the idea of giving to a university was much less common; I think this sector has done a huge amount to fix that and it is becoming much more normal to give to your university.  In that respect, it’s changed a lot.

What issues do you find in especially critical need of fundraising in the U.K.?

NHS trusts have undergone tremendous cuts and will continue to face more in coming years.  Because of this, NHS charities are under significant pressure. This is an area of fundraising that is going to need to rapidly expand and professionalise. There is a huge scope here for some amazing work. I’ve been working with a client in this space recently and seeing the work that they are doing and the impact of philanthropic income. The potential is extraordinary.

The NHS had been such a stalwart for so long.  What do you think is going to be required to change the culture around that?

A lot of people are quite angry that it is now having to fall to philanthropy to fill that gap within the NHS. I think it is going to be a challenge because the average donor will not be used to seeing healthcare as a charitable cause even though they are aware of just how important it is. There is a huge amount to be done to elevate philanthropy within the National Health Service and I’m delighted to see that Graham-Pelton is already starting to move in that direction in the U.K..

What do you find the most rewarding about being involved in the field of philanthropy?

When I get to connect donors with the people that they are supporting, that is amazingly rewarding. Seeing how happy they are when they achieve what they wanted to—and more—by making a gift. I think it is incredible when you get to the stage with a donor where they have given a seven-figure donation, but are thanking you because you’ve got them to that point.

What was it that attracted you to Graham-Pelton?

When I was a telephone fundraiser, I was fortunate enough to cross paths with and be mentored by people who now work for Graham-Pelton. I kept tabs on how these individuals progressed their careers and saw them move into consultancy. I know Graham-Pelton because of their standing work within the U.K. and when I saw people who I respect and admire then go to work for Graham-Pelton, it was a bit of a no-brainer when the position came up. I knew I would be in great company and that I would learn a lot.

Contact Alice directly via email or by calling +44 0207 060 2622.

 

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