Meet the Fundraiser: Sam Butler, St John Ambulance

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Posted in Interviews

Meet the Fundraiser: Sam Butler, St John Ambulance

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Sam Butler, acquisition and communications manager for St John Ambulance, chats to us about going from acting to fundraising, living in the moment, and channelling The Boss.

Why and how did you get into the fundraising sector?

I started as a street fundraiser in 2000, as a way of supplementing my acting career! So I fell into it really. The peers I became friends with were really creative and politically motivated, which was a very refreshing environment to be in - I enjoyed their energy and commitment to moving things forward. When my son was born in 2004, I wanted to be a dad that was around, not away on acting tours, and so I took a permanent role at the agency.

What do you love most about your job?

The challenge. Raising money isn’t easy, and we often have to fight for a campaign we believe in as a team. I love the solidarity and collaboration that requires. I also enjoy helping to change people’s perceptions of fundraising. As a sector, our fundraising methods often spark debate, and initial reactions and opinions can sometimes be negative. I enjoy helping people understand why we choose to fundraise in a particular way. Through communicating openly and honestly, it means I can learn new things too.

Give us an unusual fact that people might not know about you?

In 1998, fresh out of university, I won a motorbike on a TV show called Man O Man! I thought it might help my acting career take off… It didn’t!

What would be your superpower?

I’d love to be able to change myself into Bruce Springsteen. Just for four hours - long enough to perform one of his marathon concerts.

What has been your proudest achievement?

Professionally, I like to think I inspired a lot of people to realise their potential when I managed them as street fundraisers. Not just to raise money for the charities we were working on behalf of, but to take the skills and confidence they developed with them when they moved on. Personally, I’m very proud of my kids and the way their mum and I seem to have got their attitude towards life pretty spot on for now. There is still a long way to go though!

If you weren’t in fundraising, what would you like to do instead?

I grew up on Dartmoor and love the countryside. I’d like to find an area of the world that would allow me to live simply off the land.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Try to be aware, and live in the moment.

What's your best piece of advice for other fundraisers?

When you’re told that you can’t do something, ask why, and when you’re given the answer, listen. Then amend what it is you wanted to do, and ask again!

What three things would you take with you to a desert island?

A projector, the film Raiders of the Lost Arc and loo roll.

What makes you happy?

The simple things. We were Blackberry picking in Alexandra Palace a few weeks ago, and my son turned to me with a look of complete joy on his face and said: “This is the best family day ever!”

Sam Butler is acquisition and communications manager at St John Ambulance

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