My charity sector experience: Harry Gardner

3 minute read

We spoke to CharityConnect Champion, Harry Gardner, to discover what he went through in order to break into the charity sector.

How did you first get into the charity sector?

I have only ever worked in the charity sector, prior to this I was studying at college!

What was your first role in the sector?

My first role in the sector was working for a fantastic charity supporting young people. I was a fundraising apprentice, studying an advanced level 3 diploma in fundraising.

What was working in the sector like initially?

It was fantastic, I’ve always loved my job. The diploma gave me a good grounding into most fundraising disciplines. I’ve been very lucky to have a great manager who also acts as my mentor.

What interested you about the charity sector?

The ability to make an actual difference, and to do it as a job – well it’s a privilege.

How did you progress in the charity sector to where you are now?

Networking, networking and more networking!

My very first role in the sector was a Voluntary Youth Coordinator position for The Transition Town, Stroud.  Since then I did numerous different things in the sector until a friend told me about the fundraising apprenticeship. Fast forward a few years and I found myself chatting to a lady while volunteering at the Institute of Fundraising National Convention, she ended up becoming my line manager and that’s all thanks to networking. I’m also a massive advocate for taking personal development into your own hands, for me this involved becoming a committee member on the Institute of Fundraising South West Board.

I also continue to attend workshops and seminars and recognise the Importance of researching and benchmarking against other charities and fundraisers. I think it’s also important not to be afraid to ask a fellow fundraiser how they got to where they are now, this can you help you to map what you might need to do to progress in the sector into a specific role. I also do pro bono work for charities and in doing so it not only helps the charities, but it helps me to develop my skills too.

What is your favorite thing about working in the sector?

I love the people aspect, the difference you can make and the variety of the role – not forgetting all the cake!

What is the best piece of advice someone has given you in your career?

‘Just because the door is shut, it doesn’t mean you can’t open it.’

For me this quote represents having the confidence in challenging the norm, if you believe the current methods aren’t as lucrative or fruitful as they may have once been, having the strength to give something new ago

With some of the charities I have been fortunate enough to work with, I have heard on a few occasions, ‘We do it like this because we always have’  I’m not saying change things if they work but it’s so easy for charities to fall into a rut of repetition.  This quote represents if you can see the way that things are being done are historical and may not represent current culture or harness newer fundraising techniques etc. you could be missing out on some great opportunities.

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