Louise Angelou: the opportunity to do something truly transformational
How long have you been working at The George Institute?
I took up my new role as Head of Development at The George Institute, UK in May 2017.
What attracted you to working at The George Institute?
This role attracted me because it provides a really exciting opportunity to set up and implement a philanthropic fundraising strategy for The George Institute, UK. Throughout my career, I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of new roles, and the potential they provide for making a difference.
What are you currently working on?
During my first few months, I will be working with academics and volunteers to draft the “cases for support” for specific projects, as well as fellowships and studentships. I will also be building a pool of potential major donors (call me if you know any!) and finalising a development strategy with specific income projections.
What is a recent highlight?
It’s only my third week in post and my role is split between The George Institute, UK and the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Oxford so it’s too soon to say. That said, I’m sure the first highlight will be the first major gift I secure for The George Institute. However, major gifts can typically take around 18 months to come to fruition so watch this space!
What difference will this make to healthcare and why?
Generating major gifts for The George Institute, UK will secure a robust and sustainable philanthropic income stream in support of the Institute’s objectives so that it can continue to improve healthcare around the world.
What is your professional background?
I have ten years’ experience in medical fundraising at a strategic level in the higher education sector. Prior to this, I spent over ten years as a marketing specialist working for scientific, technical and medical publishers based in the UK and the US.
Why do you enjoy working at The George Institute?
I think the commitment and values behind The George Institute make it a special place to work. The research projects are outstanding and the people are really lovely!
To explain to people what I do I say…
People often wonder what it’s like to have to ask people for money, but I don’t see it that way. What I do is give people an opportunity that they can’t get anywhere else to do something truly transformational that will make them feel amazing.
Other times, I say it’s a bit like dating. First, you have to think like a matchmaker and identify potential donors and projects that will like each other. Then you try to get a first date. If that goes well, you start getting to know and understand them. Finally, after a period of courtship and when the time is right, you pop the question.
I work at The George Institute because…
The George Institute’s mission to improve the health of vulnerable people sits well with me because I want to make a difference with the work that I do - I just wouldn’t feel the same way about raising money for the arts (even though I love the arts). I want to share my fundraising skills and experience with The George Institute and help it to achieve great things.
To unwind at the end of the day I…
I love to cook (and eat!) good food with friends and family. Sometimes I go to the gym to try and undo the damage and then relax in the sauna. Failing that, a good soak in the bath with Radio Four and a G&T always works.
My first job was…
Working in a honey factory when I was student. It was five years before I could eat honey again (don’t ask!).
My biggest achievement so far…
Once (and sadly only once), I went out for lunch and came back with £1m – and I didn’t even pick up the bill. Another big achievement was securing a £10m pledge towards a new research building, but sometimes it’s the smaller donations that feel more rewarding and more personal. I’ve known donors who found comfort in funding research into the disease that their child died from and donors who felt “joyful” because they were able to give someone an opportunity and change the course of their life. It doesn’t get much better than that.