Martha Shackleton, Fundraising Trainee, Focus Ireland
What does your job involve?
I work across the public fundraising department and the corporate campaigns department. I split my days between the two – I'm in public fundraising Monday to Wednesday and corporate campaigns Thursday to Friday. In public fundraising I work mainly on customer relationship management, making sure our supporters in the public know what's going on with Focus Ireland and how we're using their donations. I'm also looking at the analysis of public campaigns, for example the Christmas campaign we did, comparing it with previous Christmas campaigns, what went well, what we did better this year and what we can improve on in the years ahead. In corporate campaigns I work mainly on big major fundraising campaigns across the country with corporate companies.
How did you get your career started in the not-for-profit sector?
Coming out of university I knew I had an interest in the not-for-profit sector and would love to get some experience there and get real insight into it. So I did an interview first and was then invited to an interview in two of the three offices. After that I went for an interview in Focus Ireland itself.
What skills are important to be successful in this sector?
You need a lot of time management skills, particularly in my role because I'm working across two departments. I need to finish different projects halfway through the week and things like that. You also need creativity. You need to look at innovative ideas about how to keep donors engaged with the organisation and how to get people excited about fundraising for Focus Ireland. I also think you need a lot of Microsoft Office skills as there is a lot of involvement with Excel and Word and drawing up presentations on Powerpoint.
What advice would you give a first year student?
In university I was very involved with the Trinity St. Vincent De Paul society. I was the chairperson and took a year out. That gave me a lot of experience in event management and fundraising, and also a good insight into what the not-for-profit sector is about. When it came time to apply for the job I knew I was very enthusiastic about the sector already. If you can get involved with not-for-profits on a volunteer basis that will make you stand out and show your commitment to the sector.