My Charity Career – Tim O’Dea

Charity Chats Border centred

Monthly career interview with professionals in the not-for-profit sector

My Charity Career - Tim (centred) (1)

1. What is your current role and how long have you been working in it?

I’m lucky enough to head up the fundraising team in Barretstown, and have been doing so for the past 7 years. Unusually it is my second time working with Barretstown; I was the corporate fundraising manager between 2003 and 2007.

2. How did you get to where you are today and what influenced your decision to work in your chosen field?

Like pretty much every fundraiser I have ever met, I fell into fundraising. A very good friend of mine got a job working in the US for a fundraising consultancy firm, CCS. They mostly worked on major gift capital campaigns and had a number of projects in Ireland and were looking for staff. He mentioned it to me and I threw my hat in the ring which was the start of my fundraising career. Three hectic but incredibly interesting and entertaining years followed working for clients as diverse as the Archdiocese of Armagh and the Northern Ireland Scout Council.

3. What do you love/enjoy most about your job?

Every day is different, and you have the opportunity to get involved with so many different activities when trying to raise funds. And on the bad days, and they are there, it is some comfort to remind yourself that you aren’t just creating profit for shareholders.

4. And what are the most challenging parts of your job?

Constantly juggling with limited resources.

5. How do you relax?

I love swimming, especially open water swimming which I compete in (badly, but points for trying).

6. What skills and personality traits do you think are essential for a job like yours?

Flexibility, tolerance, sense of humour and ability to operate in a fast paced environment.

7. What’s your advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in the same field?

Go for it, it’s a great career that was unheard of a generation ago – people still say ‘well done’ when I say I work for a charity which makes me smile.

8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Problems are always at their worst when you first hear about them.

9. What has been the best moment of your career so far?

Genuinely hard to choose – the older I get the more my perspective changes and I get more from the small wins.

10. What are your career aspirations?

I’m pretty happy where I am – we have some really exciting plans for Barretstown over the next number of years, kicking off with our 25th anniversary next year.

The next obvious career step is as a CEO of an organisation, although I have always harboured an interest in one day going into consultancy so we will see….

If you’re a professional who works in the not-for-profit sector and you’re interested in taking part in the ‘My Charity Career’ interview series, please get in touch by emailing Laura at  We’d love to hear from you!