Why become a fundraiser?

more students are interested in working in the public sector, academia, or for an NGO than in investment banking, consulting or finance.

Alternative Aspirations: what do students really want from their career?

I’ve been invited to speak to the LSE Artichoke Society‘s conference. The focus of the conference is to inspire students through highlighting the stories of graduates who have pursued an alternative path.

As an alumni (Social Policy, 2003, I was a mature student), the story of the Artichoke society really rings a chord. At the London School of Economics (LSE), I was surprised by the number of undergraduates destined to move into the city, law or consulting as careers. And when I say destined, I mean without any real thought given to alternatives. LSE students are fiercely intelligent (I like to think, anyway!) and yet lots had barely considered their future choice of career, a big decision with implications for the rest of their lives. Many on accounting and finance, economic and law courses had long since made that choice. For some, it definitely seemed parental pressure or parental assumption, for others a lack of awareness of what their options could be.

Ironic that a university set up to further the leftwing aims of the Fabian society churns out undergraduates for the city. Although the LSE has a very healthy civil society side to its programmes and courses, it’s a target for the big financial and consulting firms to recruit new talent.

I believe in the power of people to change the world and change lives. I don’t think charity has exclusive grip on this, many (most?) world changing ideas have come from the private sector and often relied on finance and legal advice from the city or equivalents. But I do think charities – and the funds that power their work – are an important way of building a better world. I don’t need persuading to follow a charity career, and despite some doubts at times, fundraising is a fantastic way to make a difference. Not least because you see the impact of your work in both directions – the charity and service delivery staff and volunteers creating change alongside the pleasure giving has on donors.

In preparation for my short talk (10 mins) under the theme of ‘Persuade’, I want to crowdsource thoughts from charity and fundraising professionals – why work for charity, and specifically, why become a fundraiser? Why did you become a fundraiser? What would you say to yourself at career defining moments from your past?


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