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Volunteer Fundraising Board – Godsend or God Help us!

11 Oct 2017

Volunteer Fundraising Board – Godsend or God Help us!

Volunteer Fundraising Board – Godsend or God Help us!

19 October 4.30pm – 6.00pm, James Street South

Speaker: Jennifer Coleman, Director of Development, Institute of Imagination

Formerly Head of Volunteer Board Fundraising at the NSPCC, Jennifer was part of the core team that drove the £250m FULL STOP Appeal and developed the Society’s flagship Art Ball.

Jennifer is a bit of an evangelist about charities working with volunteers to enable them to make the greatest possible difference for their cause, but she also knows that volunteers and volunteer boards can be a drain on resources if not managed well.

That is why she established the Institute of Fundraising Special Interest Group focussed on Volunteer Boards, a forum for sharing best practice and peer support.

Did you always aspire to be a fundraiser or what led you to this line of work?

When I was a child if someone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up I would confidently reply, “I want to save the world”!. I realised as I got older that that was easier said than done. As I better understood my skill set I decided that the best way for me to make a positive difference would be to raise funds for important causes.

Who has inspired you most as a fundraiser?

Giles Pegram, who was Director of Development at the NSPCC for the first few years of my career there. I remember him giving a conference speech after I had just started, and he spoke with such passion about his work, I felt incredibly proud to work for him.

What do you find most challenging about fundraising?

I find the pressure challenging at times, knowing that the work of my charity will only be possible if we raise the funds we need. It’s also the thing that motivates me the most!

I guess you are asked for fundraising advice a lot. If you could put one answer on a repeating loop and then just hit the play button, what would it be?

No one will ever be offended by you asking them to help children (or animals, or elderly people…), they might not be able to say yes at that moment but asking for money is never something we should be embarrassed about. (I have to remind myself of that sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly British about it all!)

Do you currently sit or have you sat on any Board or Voluntary Committee and how do/did you find it?

Yes, I set up the Institute of Fundraising’s Volunteer Board Fundraising Special Interest Group and Chaired it for the first few years. I was also asked to join one of my senior volunteer Boards when I left the NSPCC, and remained on the Board for a year or so. It was incredibly valuable to sit on the other side of the table, as it were, to understand that simple things (like getting papers in advance of meetings) really matter. It also underlined for me that the reason people get involved is that they care. Working with volunteers can sometimes be frustrating, which is why it’s so important to remember their motivations – they could be doing so many other things with their time and yet they’re trying to help your charity, you learn to be more flexible when you remember that.

If money was no object, what would be your dream project?

That’s an impossible question to answer! There are so many causes I wish I could give my time too, from climate change to social justice. That said, I find the resurgence of space exploration very exciting, and think there are huge benefits to reminding people how small our planet really is and how interdependent we are. We’re all just hurtling through space together on a pale blue dot, we should take care of that dot and each other much more.


The Institute of Imagination

What do you get if you cross a community centre, a laboratory, a studio, a gallery, science centre and a museum? The exciting hybrid model of the Institute of Imagination is certainly one of a kind. It is a world-class London destination with children at its heart.



Our Funders & Partners

Arts & Business NI is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.