Laura Croudace chats about self development, cereal bars that save lives, and why sheís getting rid of her possessions
You started your career in PR and marketing. Why and how did you end up moving into fundraising?
I really got into fundraising to give back to the hospital that treated my son when he was very poorly with pneumonia in 2012. I wanted to thank the hospital ultimately for caring for him. Around the same time I was contacted by a friend to talk about running a charity event with them, the Birmingham Zombie Walk. I got involved and started helping to raise money, which was easier than I thought. The morning after the event, I applied for a job in fundraising. I got the job.
In your career to date, what is the most important thing you have learned about fundraising?
Communication is king. If youíre able to deeply connect with the person youíre speaking with, actively listening and reading the situation, itíll really help create a great relationship.
You are passionate about self development. How can fundraisers invest in themselves to be the best they can be at their jobs?
I think self development needs to customised for you. Personally, I think itís super important to be learning lots of different skills that compliment a fundraising career, whether thatís marketing, publicity, business models, e-commerce, video production, live streaming, writing impact reports, social mediaetc.
My advice is also to find a coach or mentor who you really connect with, Iíve invested in two coaches in the last few years and the pay off for my fundraising results has been huge - raising more money, but also learning a huge amount along the way.
What does Ďgood donor careí mean for you?
I think the main pillars are great communication, transparency, and giving donors real-time information on how we are using their money to invest and change the problem or issue theyíve come on a journey with us to solve. When I look at the work 3 Sided Cube have done on the Blood Donor app, Iím blown away by how theyíre able to give blood donors up-to-date reports on how their blood is being used. When I run a for-impact organisation one day, this is how Iíll report to donors!
Organisational strategy or organisational culture?
Culture trumps strategy every day of the week!
Iíve spent a lot of time researching organisational culture, and speaking to experts in the field, such as Sarah Carter from Wisdom Fish, and Iíve seen how changing your culture changes your organisational impacts, resulting in more money being raised. Ultimately, if you have a team thatís working well youíll thrive with a complimenting strategy, but if you have a great strategy and a bad culture, the culture will act as a bacteria and create issues, in my opinion.
Youíve said charities should send social impact reports instead of annual reports. Can you tell us why, and give us an example of a good social impact report youíve seen?
Annual reports serve a purpose for some organisations but on the whole, a powerful piece of content which is around the impact youíve helped create is far more powerful.
I donít think it would need to be a Ďreportí as such, more a story of impact, which reports. Thereís an organisation I love which produces cereal bars, called This Bar Saves Lives - they send me awesome update videos which show the impact you make from buying their cereal bars.
Another social impact report I love, and look forward to reading, is by Dr Bronners, a soap company in the States. Each year they produce the All One Report , and itís packed full of the incredible impacts theyíve made by making the best soap on the planet. Check it out, as itís inspiring and resonates with their audience perfectly.
You keep your eye on the latest developments in tech; what do you think is the most exciting new or future innovation to affect fundraising?
Tech is moving so fast, and I am constantly excited about the innovations Iím seeing. I think the thing Iím excited about most is the way in which we can connect donors in real time to the impacts theyíre making through tech - the Blood Donor app being a good example. Iím also obsessed with looking at how tech is developing, such as the Chat Bots (Beth Kanter has written a fantastic series on this, which Iím glued to) and what we can learn from it in the charity sector, whilst still remaining human.
What would you personally like to achieve in the next 12 months?
In general, my goal is to create as much positive impact as possible, helping organisations tell their story, and working with them to define what will resonate with their social audience, donors and possible partners.
More specifically, in my day job there is a corporate partnership I want to nail, which would open up so many doors for my organisation - so much so I dreamt about the partnership last night!
Also, Iíd like to work with a really interesting organisation to create an incredible story, and perhaps help them build an online community like Humans of New York - an everlasting obsession of mine!
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
ďIf itís both terrifying and amazing you should always pursue it.Ē
Followed by, ďGo the extra mile, itís never crowdedÖ.Ē
Give us an unusual fact people might not know about you?
I started selling my belongings, including my furniture, just this month, because I want to live a minimal lifestyle, where I have just what I need, so that things that donít serve me, or a purpose, arenít clogging up my mental and physical space.
I watched The Minimalists on Netflix on Boxing Day last year, and I realised what freedom you can have if you are able to live with what you need, and move around the world when you want to because you can pack up your stuff in one bag. Thatís actually quite a privileged position to be in.
What is the most exciting new thing you have coming up?
Iím excited about IFC 2017 , because it gives me such a rush of energy and excitement when Iím there - there is nothing like being surrounded by 1,000 fundraisers who are so driven and passionate about creating the best fundraising possible, itís the best event in the sector and gives me new things to think about and new tools to walk away with every year.
Laura Croudace is partnerships and engagement manager at The Resource Alliance