Louise Clarke, Professional Development Expert at Corndel, combines a decade of experience in the charitable sector with a Master’s degree in Voluntary Sector Management, as well as an extensive career in the private sector.
For two years, Louise was Deputy CEO at the Rose Road Association – a medium sized charity based in Southampton that generates in the region of £4 million per year to support disabled children and adults through a range of short break services. These services range from overnight respite, day services, community outreach including day trips, afterschool and holiday activities. Prior to her role as CEO, Louise held the positions of Head of Community Services and Director of Business Development at the charity.
Louise explains the challenges she overcame when taking on responsibility for the fundraising department. “My role was to develop the fundraising strategy following the departure of our long-standing Fundraising Director. The team itself needed rebuilding following a period of high staff turnover and income sources were either reducing or coming to an end. We needed to re-build and develop income pipelines as well as setting a realistic strategy for the next 3 years.
While community fundraising, together with trusts, grants and events, were our main channels, I was responsible for expanding the income streams to include corporate fundraising, individual giving, and looking at the potential of a major donors programme. Income had dropped by around 50% but over two years the team, with the support of the CEO was rejuvenated and we turned things around to get back on track. By the time I left Rose road, the strategy was in place to regain lost income and increase by a further 50%.”
Louise explained that this was only possible by getting the foundations right, having the right people in the right roles – recruitment and training were key. She then needed to build trust across departments. “Fundraisers often work in isolation; they are not always closely connected with the services that are being delivered. It’s about finding that connection to make sure that the fundraisers understand what the needs of the beneficiaries are so that they can package services in a way that will meet those needs and be attractive for someone of all levels to fund. There is a real skill to building these cases for support and making sure you have enough projects within your fundraising team to appeal to everyone.”
Having had experience as Deputy CEO managing the delivery side of a charity, as well as leading fundraising teams, Louise is fully aware that fundraising can be a tough gig. “It’s highly competitive and requires sophisticated marketing and sales skills. Successful fundraisers need to understand how to build and nurture relationships and to be innovative and creative in their approach. Data management, information and knowledge are also key to expertly increasing un-restricted income for the long term and ensuring GDPR compliance. A fundraising team needs good financial acumen strong leadership and a sound grasp of the impact that the charity makes for its beneficiaries. The new Fundraising Standard being delivered by Corndel is incredibly exciting for charities and their teams of fundraisers. There is nothing else out there like it.”