In our new monthly series, we take a peek into the working day of a fundraising professional. First up, Rochelle Cannington from St Kilda Mums.
Rochelle Cannington’s fundraising path has traversed industry-side (for the Melbourne-based DTS Group) and big charity (Leukaemia Foundation and Mercy Health Australia) before taking her to community-based organisation, St Kilda Mums in 2019.
St Kilda Mums, and its branches Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums (Ballarat), receive requests from Maternal Child Health Nurses and social workers on behalf of families in need. The organisation then meets each request with new or pre-loved nursery equipment including cots, prams, car seats, children’s clothing and toys, and all the material essentials a family needs for their baby or child. Many of these items are donated by the community, but there is always a gap between supply and demand, and that is where Rochelle and her team come in.
Purchasing cots, prams and car seats at cost price, keeping the organisations’ van on the road, paying for couriers and staff to transport orders to remote Victorian towns, and covering the cost of running four warehouses are just some of the expenses Rochelle needs to consider when putting together the annual fundraising plan.
It’s worth mentioning that in 2020/21, the organisation provided material aid to 19,140 babies and children for a mind-boggling low cost of $137 per child (that figure consists of every organisational expense, including staff costs). A large part of the low-cost magic is down to the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who support the team of 39 (mostly part-time) staff across the charity’s three branches.
The annual St Kilda Mums, Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums “Impact Tree”.
So, what does a ‘typical’ working day look like for Rochelle as Head of Fundraising and Communications in this bustling, highly efficient organisation? Let’s find out…
A day in my working life… Rochelle Cannington
There are two things that kick off the workday for me. Exercise and coffee!
I find exercise is the best way to start the day with a clear head. Either an F45 or Pilates class followed by a walk with my two-year-old cavoodle Cooper. Then a cappuccino!
Every working day is different for me, that’s one of the reasons I love my job. Some days I’m at one of our warehouses in Clayton (Melbourne), Geelong or Ballarat. Other days I’m planning for the next fundraising appeal, which is always exciting, and includes the June Giving Day, our largest annual appeal. Our next big campaign in May is “Make a Mother’s Day” with Mother’s Day as the central focus for fundraising.
You can also find me analysing the fundraising budget, strategising, meeting with the team to ensure we’re all on track with our goals and much more! I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a very talented team of five, all from different backgrounds with a great deal of experience.
The pandemic has changed the way we work (as it has for most people!). Thankfully we’ve always been a tech savvy organisation that has accommodated flexible working arrangements wherever possible. So when “work from home” orders were enforced way back in March 2020, the Fundraising and Comms team picked up their laptops, went home and adapted to the changing ways of the world whilst continuing to communicate with our incredible community and raising much needed funds.
One of the highlights for me over the last couple of years has been seeing our incredible community band together when times have been tough. Back in March 2020, we weren’t 100% sure what the future would look, but incredible campaigns like our Giving Day in June (which raised $1,565,043 in 2021) – where all financial donations were quadrupled by incredible matchers – have shown us that we can get through anything when we have our amazing volunteers, goods donors and financial donors by our side.
Corporate volunteers with just some of the material aid made possible by community support and fundraising initiatives such as the annual June Giving Day.
I’m big on lists and ticking things off, so I have a very clear electronic task list that I use every day. I always end my workday by checking that list and setting it up for the next day. Sometimes this works perfectly, and I can hit the ground running the next morning, other days it doesn’t quite go to plan! Either way, I always find it helpful finishing the day knowing that I have something in writing for the following day.
My favourite moments are the ones when I get to speak with someone who has benefited from our service, often a social worker who is sharing the good news about how excited a family was to receive our nursery goods. Or when I hear from a donor about what motivated them to donate to us. Those are the moments that make it all worthwhile.
To find out more about St Kilda Mums, Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums, click here.