We were eager to catch up with former CCI candidate Carla Ankiah to hear of her achievements and challenges as Head of Fundraising with Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland. We are currently recruiting a Corporate Partnerships and Philanthropy Manager to join Carla’s team, to find out more about this exciting opportunity click here.
What is your current role and how long have you been working in it?
Head of Fundraising, Partnerships & Supporter Relations. I have been in this role for 2 years and spent a year prior to this working for the same organisation as the Community Fundraising, Volunteer & Events Manager.
How did you get to where you are today and what influenced your decision to work in your chosen field?
I previously worked in the commercial sector in business development and operations management. I was looking for a new challenge and stumbled upon the role at AADI advertised by CCI. After a lovely chat with the recruitment manager at CCI I was convinced that a role in fundraising would be perfect for me and I got really excited about the possibility of working in the non-profit sector, something I had never previously considered.
What do you love/enjoy most about your job?
I get a huge sense of achievement and rush of adrenaline when I see the organisation’s revenue growth. I am very results driven but knowing ultimately the revenue I bring to the charity is literally transforming the lives of children is incredibly rewarding.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
The most challenging part of the role has always been speaking to the families that have received an assistance dog and hearing of all the wonderful benefits the dog has brought to the family and knowing that there are so many more families out there needing our support. The demand for the charities services does outstrip our current capacity but with the growth in revenue over the last few years we are helping gradually increasing our operations to support more people each year.
How do you relax?
I wouldn’t exactly call it relaxing but to switch off and clear the head I ride my horses. In the evenings I do also enjoy winding down by reading or watching Netflix.
What skills and personality traits do you think are essential for a job like yours?
I think being results driven is important and an interest in the cause the charity you work for is supporting. I also think it’s important you are very personable as most roles in fundraising require you to regularly communicate and work with a variety of individuals from various backgrounds whether they are colleagues, volunteers, service users or corporate partners.
What’s your advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in the same field?
Develop a variety of transferable skills and reach out to companies like CCI for advice on roles that may suit your skill set and experience. I would also suggest volunteering for organisations and causes that interest you so you can experience what it is like to be involved as a volunteer for different organisations. Whilst participating in the recruitment process for my first role in fundraising I volunteered for the charity at an event and I learnt so much about the organisation, its work and current fundraising practices in that one day it really was extremely valuable..
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Accept that you can’t do everything and the most important decisions you will make are prioritising what to do when.
What has been the best moment of your career so far?
Winning the ‘Fundraiser of the Year’ award at this year’s Charity Excellence awards was a huge highlight. In all honesty though every time I speak to the families the charity has supported and I see the difference my work is making to individuals it is a highlight.
What are your career aspirations?
I hope to continue my career with AADI for the next few years and help them reach a point where they are better meeting the demand for their services. Long term I would like to continue to develop my skills with the goal of moving into a C level, strategy focused role that not only allows me to develop fundraising strategy but also develop and implement team management, and operational strategy.
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 [email protected] We’d love to hear from you!