Esc Hero #20: From Recruitment to Charity Fundraising

by Rob on November 26, 2009

1. What are you currently doing?

My name is Mohini Raichura. I currently work in Corporate Fundraising for the charity The Outward Bound Trust.

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2. What did you do before?

Worked as Operations and Training & Development Manager for a niche, start-up recruitment company for 3.5 years

3. How long have you dreamt of doing this?

I have had aspirations to work within the Third Sector ever since graduating from university but like many people “fell” into my corporate role and continued up that ladder.

It was only in the last 1.5 years that I began to realize how unhappy I was and decided to make a change.

After some time spent researching and considering the different options available to me in the Third Sector I decided upon corporate fundraising for charities and spent all my energy getting my foot through the door!

4. What inspired you to do it?

It was a combination of exasperation with my previous job and having a birthday! Turning a year older is, in itself, not an issue for me but in the context of not enjoying what I did for 60 hours of the week it forced me to  adopt a real “now or never” attitude and I decided to actually change my life.

5. From a practical perspective, how did you plan for it?

I, perhaps rather unwisely, resigned and then dedicated my full resources to writing [and re-writing!] my CV, gaining voluntary experience, meeting as many influential/well connected people within the sector as possible and applying for interesting roles.

6. How did you fund it?

Whilst I was ‘unemployed’ and looking for new roles I found myself some opportunities to use the skills I attained as a Sales Trainer in my previous role to secure some freelance sales work and would often do the odd day temping every week to tide myself over.

I also re-prioritised my spending and accepted that I wasn’t going to be able to afford the same lifestyle I previously had so made some sacrifices and reminded myself of what the end goal was.

7. What was the hardest thing about making this happen?

The hardest thing was keeping the momentum going and finding new leads to chase, applying for new jobs and speaking to new people after a few knock-backs.

There were days when it all seemed bleak and as though it would have been better to maintain the status quo in my “previous life” – and it was times like that when either my friends, my family or the “future me” had to give me a bit of a kick up the ass!

8. What has been the best thing about having made this happen?

Through my networking I have secured myself as a role for the CF Trust, a charity I am very passionate about, and consult with them on a number of issues from communication and marketing to major donor fundraising.

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They also send me out to events such as Richard Branson’s “Raising funds from the rich” seminar which takes place in London next week and it’s brilliant for me to have these sorts of opportunities and experience.

9. What advice would you give to other people who want to do something similar?

I think that anyone looking to jump ship and dive into something new [excuse the awful puns] needs to read about and speak with as many relevant people as possible.

Using the experience I had gained in the world of recruitment I was able to approach a director of fundraising at a major charity who I had seen present at a third sector networking do. My conversation with him over the telephone resulted in my being invited in to shadow him and his team for a day at work. At the end of this day, to my great delight, I was offered a contract role as a researcher in their team for two months, without which I would never have been considered for an interview at my current job.

Network, network, network! And be prepared to get your hands dirty and volunteer/intern/shadow people wherever possible.

10. What resources (books, websites, articles, events etc) did you find really useful?

The Guardian obviously has a very good site but I think you ought to find as many niche sites/recruiters for your chosen sector as possible and make yourself known!

For the world of charity I highly recommend Third Sector and the recruiters Kage Partnership, Harris Hill and Eden Brown.

11. What else?

Outside of the resources mentioned above one of the tools I found most helpful in getting a foot through the door was listing every person I knew on a piece of paper and asking them who they knew who would either be able to speak to me or put me in the right direction to gain work experience, look at my CV or just provide me with their insight into the industry.

Some of the most valuable information came from friends of mine who do not work in the third sector and who I would not have even considered asking for help. Again, network, speak to people, get out there! Make it all real for you.

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