Camp Quality's Events Manager, Susan Fleming, finds the supporters and volunteers she works with some of the most inspiring people she has ever met. Lise Taylor reports.
How did you first get into the work you do?
I had been working for an agency providing event management services for nonprofits and associations for over 10 years, and was really looking to move in-house and start managing my own events as well as move towards nonprofit events. I saw a job advertised with Camp Quality and knew it was the exact organisation I wanted to work for – I didn’t get that particular job, but was persistent in my applications for jobs and eventually worked my way through to now managing one of its largest fundraising events.
Who and what shaped your early views on fundraising?
I would have to say the supporters and volunteers. The commitment, passion and drive these people have is very inspiring. Working in fundraising, it is so easy to get caught up in the figures and budgets, but it’s so rewarding and grounding to hear the stories about why and how these people do what they do.
Tell us about your current role.
My current role is managing Camp Quality’s largest fundraising event – esCarpade – as well as our national campaign. My main duties include managing the event logistics, marketing and promotion, as well as fundraiser support. My favourite part is definitely working with our supporters. I’ve built some really great relationships, and am always looking at ways of improving our processes or implementing growth in our events and campaigns to support these guys as well as increase revenue.
What have you learned about yourself since getting involved in fundraising?
My passion has really developed over the years since moving into the nonprofit sector. I have always been pretty driven and motivated, but being able to see firsthand the difference the work I do is helping our cause helps step it up a notch. I am now always striving for the next best thing or how can we do things better or raise more money!
What is the most interesting/successful campaign you have been involve in?
I was asked to assist with creating an event to launch our revised Primary School Education Program (Puppet Show), which was being broadened to start supporting children who have a parent living with cancer. We wanted to showcase this to some of our supporters, and also thank the people who were involved with the new development. The event was very different to anything we had done before, and was initially just an engagement event, however resulted in us receiving some new donors and further funding for the program.
What are your key goals for the future?
Developing a revised national campaign for Camp Quality, as well as supporting a community fundraising strategy that can streamline our events and campaigns.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you during your career?
During opening night of my first year managing esCarpade, I was on stage welcoming the 300 plus participants, and knocked a glass of water over that spilt all over me, the laptop and the stage. There was nothing I could do other than admit to my nerves and keep moving along.
Tell us something unexpected about yourself.
I grew up in country Victoria, but wanted to be a marine biologist – however lived nowhere near the sea!
What are your five top fundraising tips?
1 Keep it simple It is so easy to overcomplicate processes and start developing systems or events that you think work, but in the end may not be what your current supporters want or even need.
2 Account management Build a friendship with your fundraisers, regularly communicate with them and not just about their fundraising – a quick catch-up phone call to have a chat is invaluable.
3 Engagement Don’t segment your fundraisers too much – the connections they have are endless. Invite them to other events outside of the areas they are directly involved in. Share with them stories from the people they are raising money from. Offer them to participate in other areas of your business – they are your best ambassadors and advocates!
4 Gratitude Thank and acknowledge your supports – committed fundraisers are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to their fundraising efforts but they want to be recognised for that before their peers and also through your organisation.
5 Don’t reinvent the wheel If you are looking for ways to grow your fundraising or revenue, don’t start from scratch and think you need to develop a new initiative or get new supporters – sometimes it is as easy as tapping into something you are already doing or working with your current supporters to raise more.
Susan is presenting the We couldn't do it with you! Retaining and managing your volunteers session at F&P's EventRaise Conference on 2 & 3 May 2017. For further information or to book click here.