Paul Farthing talks to us about climbing a frozen waterfall, the importance of consistency, and his favourite historical mysteries.
How and why did you get into the voluntary sector?
I left university with a strong sense that I wanted to do something with a social purpose, reinforced by spending a year working with ICI. I got an admin job with the campaign organisation Charter 88, then got asked to work on a donor mailing with the great copywriter George Smith. Two months later I was marketing manager… and the rest is history.
What are the most important things you've learned in your fundraising career?
To keep asking questions and, as I’ve learned after years of working within agencies, never assume anything. I’ve also learned how important it is to keep giving people the key messages you want them to hear, and to be consistent, as it can take time for them to get across.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
I try to spend it with my family, particularly my young daughters who are six and three. Getting away from the office on time is important to me, as it means I get to say goodnight and read a bedtime story.
What is the most out-of-the-ordinary thing you've ever done?
While on holiday in Finland, to my surprise (and the rest of the group’s), I climbed up an ice wall - a frozen waterfall - using ice axes, without stopping. I then spent two hours standing on a frozen lake, trying to catch a fish through a hole in the ice. I caught nothing except a chill - odd day!
What's been the best moment of your career?
Seeing the first mailing I ever worked on for Charter 88 in a printed form, and then seeing the responses coming into the office. It was a great moment.
What do you love most about your charity?
That we are developing and delivering real solutions to one of society’s most horrible and seemingly intractable problems - child abuse. There is a tremendous commitment by staff and volunteers at the NSPCC to protect children and fight for every childhood, and I genuinely believe we are on the threshold of a major breakthrough in tackling child abuse in our society.
What's the most exciting new thing your charity has coming up?
Keeping children safe online is the biggest child protection challenge of this generation. We are rolling out a new campaign called ShareAware with advice for parents that will help them to feel confident speaking to their children about who they are talking to online, and what they are sharing. We are also committed to working with others towards an ultimate goal of ridding the internet of child abuse images.
Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to your ideal dinner party?
I have always been intrigued by historical mysteries, so I would invite Amelia Earhart the aviator, the Captain of the Marie Celeste and the Babushka lady - the missing witness of the Kennedy assassination. I would get some great stories and they could discuss the impact of their experiences on history.
If you won £20m on the lottery, what would you do with the money?
I would use some of the money to set up a fund dedicated to getting charities to work together, creating shared resources or encouraging mergers where appropriate. I think there is so much to be gained by pursuing these opportunities. For my own benefit, I would buy shares in a good French vineyard, add a small library to my house and buy first editions of the original Lord of the Rings books.
Paul Farthing is director of fundraising at NSPCC.