This month we ‘spend’ the day with Lee Ferraro – Donor Development Manager at RSPCA Victoria… and heads up, there’s some furry cuteness!

Lee Ferraro RSPCAMy fundraising journey began at Wildlife Victoria, working out of a shared office incubator for growing NGOs called Kindness House. Starting my career with such a small team gave me the unique opportunity to work broadly across fundraising disciplines including appeals, regular giving, gifts in wills, sponsorship, and community fundraising. From there, I joined Diabetes Victoria and experienced a very different organisation and mission, working with larger teams and resources, before again returning to animal welfare at RSPCA Victoria in 2015.

Dedicated to protecting and caring for animals for more than 150 years, RSPCA Victoria was the first RSPCA in Australia. With a vision of ‘ending cruelty to all animals’, the organisation works with the community to achieve outstanding animal welfare through education, advocacy, and animal care and protection. Last year more than 14,700 animals in need came through our shelter doors, while the Inspectorate team received 10,745 reports of cruelty across the state.

My day at a glance…

Many of my days since joining RSPCA Victoria have begun with feeding a foster dog, and taking them for a quick walk and lawn break before preparing for the day. I brought home our first foster dog not long after joining the organisation and being part of the foster program has enriched our lives. I encourage everyone to consider animal fostering! Witnessing animals learn to trust and come out of their shell is really special. As a fundraiser it also helped me feel even more connected to our work and other teams across the organisation.

Lee with foster dog, Shep.

Recently however, our morning routine has changed a little. Not just with remote working but for the last eight months, mornings now start earlier with bottle feeding our son and a nappy change – and I’m a creature of habit when it comes to coffee.

I constantly prioritise, and re-prioritise throughout the day, balancing critical campaign elements with the cumulative effect – this effort may not be fully felt for weeks or months down the track. As our fundraising program has grown over the last few years, the need to constantly review program budgets, performance, and adapt timelines also inevitably occurs most days. I do genuinely enjoy working closely on appeal and regular giving content and find it incredibly fulfilling. With the patience of our small team, I still involve myself in the development process wherever possible.

A program highlight and opportunity for collaboration

As a program highlight, adding an annual matched giving day to our campaigns has been an exciting new challenge and has driven greater collaboration among our events, corporate and philanthropy areas as it’s a unique proposition that brings our audiences together. This campaign, which started as a modest Victorian trial, and has grown year-on-year from $618,950 in 2018 to $843,837 in 2021 (VIC results), now has full national federation participation (there is an RSPCA in each state and territory). Working as part of a federated model also provides opportunities to support each other and share testing and development of new campaigns.

A multifaceted workforce

We were fortunate that our Information Systems team were able to rapidly adapt to a remote work setup in early 2020. For so many of our teams across the state, work really is only possible onsite at the shelter, in the clinic, or on the road investigating cruelty. It made it even more important for those of us who could work remotely to do so; to minimise any chance of compromising those essential onsite teams where people are directly handling, treating and caring for animals in need.

One of the best aspects of working at the RSPCA as a fundraiser is the unique position to talk with truly inspiring team members across the organisation in so many different roles. Sharing the daily experiences of passionate people including veterinarians and nurses, animal attendants and behaviourists, inspectors and more is a constantly fulfilling undertaking.

As a fundraiser, remote working did present challenges to collecting stories, images and catching those spontaneous moments around the shelter or clinic that are perfect for sharing with supporters. Pre-pandemic it was easy to grab a photo of an animal in our care; this wasn’t possible through large parts of 2020 and 2021. Remote working through the pandemic certainly necessitated the development of solutions to keeping the stories and content free flowing.

Thankfully champions across the organisation really went above and beyond to help us keep that channel open, covering everything from Zoom interviews to taking photos on our behalf. It is a testament to their dedication to the cause that so many still wanted to help share impactful content with our community.

Looking ahead for the year, I am grateful to be back at the shelter more frequently in 2022, and to the stories to share that each day brings.

If you’d like to learn more about the rewarding experience of animal fostering through the RSPCA, click here.

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