Vanessa Longley, YoungMinds
Vanessa Longley
I’m one of the few fundraisers I’ve ever met who knew what they wanted to do. I come from a family who had used their working career to try and change the world for the better, in areas such as nursing, social work and teaching. As a result, I realised quite young that I wanted to do a purpose-led job where I could apply the values that meant something to me.
That doesn’t mean I automatically fell into fundraising – I had a few career experiences along the way that highlighted what I’m good at, and what doesn’t suit me. As an example, I worked in a care home for people with multiple and profound disabilities for a year before university. And, what it taught me, very quickly, was that I wasn’t very good at it. I could do the personal care side of things no problem, but actually working day in, day out, with people who would never get better was tough, especially working alongside families watching the decline of their children. Emotionally, I wasn’t ready for that.
What I did realise however, was that I had the ability to talk persuasively. After uni, I went into advertising and marketing at WWAV Rapp Collins, which was the largest direct marketing agency in Europe where I worked on both charity and commercial clients from Friends of the Earth, to the Prudential, before switching to the charity sector.
Fundraising has always been rooted in purpose, and I feel really proud of the successes I contributed to in a variety of fundraising and marketing roles. I started out at the Leprosy Relief Association and stayed until we’d cured leprosy as a public health problem in India. I moved to Mencap, and stayed until we’d managed to effectively lobby and change a very significant law around consent. I moved to the hospice sector, and would urge as many charity-focused people as possible to do some work in this sector – there’s a purity there because you are so close to your local community and so close to patients, that it positions purpose front and centre. I’ve found there’s a lot of learning to be had from small local charities …
Read the rest of the article on the Professionals with Purpose website here