Case study

Events fundraising assistant — Simon Mihailovic

Simon finds it rewarding and motivating to work for a charity that strives to build a better society…

How did you get your job?

The realisation that I wanted to work in the charity sector, and in particular event fundraising, came about through my involvement in setting up and running a small international development charity working in Uganda. I helped to organise some of the charity's annual fundraising events and was involved in branding, setting up the website and building a social media presence.

I applied for a mixture of entry-level jobs, internships and volunteer positions at charities involved with international development and health and social care, though was turned down several times in favour of someone with more experience.

So, in order to gain more experience and strengthen my skills I spent three months volunteering at an international development charity. During this time I applied for the Charityworks graduate programme and was lucky enough to get a place on the scheme. This gave me a gave me a great introduction to the sector through a mixture of networking opportunities, training sessions with sector leaders and a year's placement at a national charity. The experience I gained helped me secure a permanent position in the events team at the same charity.

Grab every opportunity that you can as this is how you build experience, knowledge and understanding

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My degree subject was chemistry so was not relevant to securing my job but the transferable skills gained during my degree have certainly been useful and particularly the data and Excel skills I learned.

What are your main work activities?

One of my main tasks is to read and respond to emails, including requests from supporters for information, advice or resources. I also write pieces about our larger fundraising events, communicate through newsletters and thank you letters, add information onto our support database and update our web pages.

The rest of my time is spent making courtesy calls to our supporters to see how their fundraising is going and find out if they need any advice or support from us and answering calls and queries that come in throughout the day.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I've been in the role for around six months now and am reaching the stage where I'm familiar and comfortable with a lot of our regular processes and ways of working. I'm now looking at opportunities to begin to develop my knowledge and skills within this role. For example I recently took part in volunteer management training to help me better understand how our team can recruit and retain volunteers to our events. Ultimately my ambition in this role is to be able to use my experience to add value to what we do and continue to develop our events and the way we support our fundraisers.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The best part of any day is hearing from our supporters about the events that they take part in to raise money for the charity. They all have a very personal connection to the charity and it can be very inspirational to hear what they are doing to help us continue our work.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Keeping on top of everything that is going on at once! All of the events I work on follow a similar pattern in terms of what needs doing and how they work but they are all at different stages so keeping track of where each one is and what needs doing can be tough.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

My advice would be to grab every opportunity that you can as this is how you build experience, knowledge and understanding. You need to be realistic about how you get to the role you want and recognise that sometimes you need to take small steps in the right direction to get to your ultimate destination.