Case study

Development manager — Kieran Jones

Kieran's love of music and his people skills make him a perfect fit for his role as fundraiser for a music arts charity. Find out how his degree and work experience helped him get the job

How did you get your job?

I studied music at Cardiff University, graduating with a BMus, and since then have held various London-based fundraising roles.  My first position was at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra where I was a development assistant, and the second at the Royal College of Music where I held the position of assistant to the director of development, alumni engagement and the More Music Campaign.

These two roles provided an invaluable insight into the world of fundraising in the arts/education sector, and gave me the necessary grounding to undertake my current role as development manager for an arts organisation that helps build the careers of emerging classical artists.

What's a typical working day like?

As development manager, I'm responsible for directing the delivery of all aspects of fundraising.

There are never two days the same working as a fundraiser, particularly for a small charity. A 'typical' day can involve anything from writing letters, preparing proposals and doing the research required to organise events, meeting current/potential donors and attending our artists' concerts.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There are many things I enjoy about my job, such as the ability to be creative in my own work and being the driving force behind the success of a charity's mission. Most of all, however, I enjoy the marriage between my two greatest passions - people and music.

What are the challenges?

As fundraising sits at the heart of every activity, multitasking all the different aspects of fundraising can be a challenge. It's like trying to keep lots of plates spinning all at once.

Being patient can also be a challenge. As public funding becomes increasingly sparse, everyone looks to their fundraiser to bring in the money necessary to deliver a mission. However, building meaningful relationships and trust with a range of donors requires time and can't be rushed.

How is your degree relevant?

To be successful in fundraising you need to be personable. You have to be able to talk to people and earn their trust in order to gain their support. It's really important that you believe in what your charity stands for. Each of my jobs has been within the arts, specifically classical music, so having a music degree has been a tremendous asset.

During my degree I developed an in-depth understanding of music, both academically and as a performer, which really helps when speaking to a variety of people about the organisation I work for as part of my fundraising role.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

During the next five years, I'd like to develop my skills in the area of development and gain the experience needed to attain a senior role within the arts/culture sector.

What advice can you give to others?

If you're unsure about which career path is right for you, development is a perfect place to learn a range of skills. Fundraising is a fascinating, rewarding and important area for any arts organisation, and there's a tremendous sense of pride and satisfaction from seeing projects you've helped fundraise for come to life.

Don't be afraid to talk to people you know in different areas of work. Speak to and meet as many people as possible to build your own network. It's from these contacts that you're likely to find opportunities.

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