Monthly career interview with professionals in the not-for-profit sector
1. What is your current role and how long have you been working there?
I’m very proud to be a Director and Co-Founder of Charity Careers Ireland since 2014.
2. How did you get to where you are today?
Like many others, I “fell” into fundraising. My background was in Public Relations and I had a passion for the arts, so took a role in publicity and sponsorship for Scottish Opera. That got me interested in raising funds for the arts and a career in fundraising was born. I became a full-time fundraiser in 1990 when I joined the Scottish Society for Autism, eventually becoming their Director of Fundraising. I left in 2003 to become a consultant and worked for charities in Canada, the US, Sweden, Spain and Holland before setting up my own consultancy and recruitment company in Scotland in 2007 and then joining Mary O’Kennedy to set up Charity Careers Ireland in 2014. Even though I’m no longer directly employed by a charity, I still consider myself part of the non-for-profit sector and would never work anywhere else.
3. What do you love/enjoy most about your job?
Helping great charities find great staff is hugely rewarding. When people that I’ve introduced start “clicking” right away, it’s a privilege to be part of that. It’s like being a “matchmaker.”
4. And what’s the most challenging parts of your job?
We try really hard to tell people that we aren’t like other recruitment agencies and we are genuinely different. We know, understand and love our sector – so I don’t like being compared with people who just see the non-profit sector as a place to make some money.
5. How do you relax?
The “Real Bruce” sings and play guitar in a blues band. When I’m up on stage, it’s like being a whole different person for an hour or so – that’s very satisfying and a great stress release.
6. What skills and personality traits do you think are essential for a job like yours?
Both fundraising and recruitment are about the same two things: communication and honesty. If you can be a great and truthful communicator, whoever your audience is, you’ll go far in any job.
7. What’s your advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in your field?
While there are courses that you can go on, recruitment (like fundraising) is all about people. Get to know how to read people, take a genuine interest in the people that you work with, learn how to inspire people and how to show people that charities are brilliant.
8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
In my first fundraising job, another fundraiser advised me “not to get too close to your cause.” She meant that it was important to keep the same perspective as a potential donor that still needed to be educated about a cause or charity. That was great advice.
9. What has been the best moment of your career so far?
I was very proud to be awarded Fellowship of the Institute of Fundraising last year.
10. What are your career aspirations?
I believe that there are many other sectors that need the approach to recruitment that Charity Careers Ireland offers. Mary and I are looking at these other sectors and hoping to do more work there. I’m also doing some work in Canada which is a country I really love, so to spend more time there would be great.