by Philippa Randle
Philippa caught up with Associate Director of High Value Fundraising at Guy’s & St Thomas’ and Evelina London Children’s Hospitals to find out how she’s getting on in her role after she was placed by Charity People.
Can you tell me a little bit about your role?
I’m Deputy Director of High Value Fundraising. I manage a team that covers principal gifts, major gifts, corporate partnerships, trusts and foundations and we fundraise exclusively for the three charities that support Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust: Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, Evelina London Children’s Charity, and Guy’s Cancer Charity
What’s been your biggest highlight so far in the role?
Once a month I join two clinical working groups: one for head and neck cancer clinicians and the other for robotic surgery clinicians. The projects they meet to talk about are currently being funded by a principal gift donor stewarded by my team.
I’m constantly amazed by how focused and energised the clinicians are. They have incredibly busy schedules, yet they’re totally committed to their projects which range from early diagnosis, treatment through to survivorship.
In the monthly meetings, the thorough and detailed reports that these incredible clinicians produce are testament to their commitment to securing the best outcomes for patients. Hearing from clinicians first hand in these meetings and being able to talk about their work directly with our donors is a huge highlight for me.
You can read more about the incredible things the robotics teams at the trust are doing here:
What has really surprised you since starting your role?
The complexity of the fundraising relationship with the NHS. The ambition to do more and to continually improve patient outcomes within the Hospitals is immense. I learn so much as we work with our Hospital staff to identify projects that support NHS staff, or research and innovations that are over and above the NHS and that might be right for philanthropic funding
What excites you most about the future for your charity?
We have a suite of priority projects at the moment that we’re taking out to donors. We are working hard to grow our pipeline which is not well developed. We do need to do more with our existing donors and supporters and hopefully encourage them to introduce us to and open up their network. We have some exciting corporate partners and we talk to them not only about the projects that they’re investing in, but how they might use their networks to celebrate and talk about other projects that we’re raising funds for. To do that, we need to be creative. We need to try a few things and fail fast.
We are genuinely excited to welcome new members into our team. I’m proud of how focused, committed and lovely my team is and when we are full capacity, I cannot wait to see what we could do.
Looking at the charity sector as a whole, what change would you like to see?
I’d like to see a shared understanding across the sector that good fundraising isn’t just about the numbers. A lot of charities talk about big growth ambitions and wanting to raise more money – that’s absolutely admirable. I think growth ambitions need to be aligned with strategic purpose. You need to understand why you are raising more money. You need to understand what you’re raising it for and the outcome it’s going to lead to. I think there need to be some very frank conversations held at senior leadership level and with trustees, that growth for growth’s sake is not necessarily a good thing.
Secondly, I think that in order to grow teams that are genuinely creative, you need to be open to recruiting people who are curious and interested in your organisation and what you are raising funds for. You need to be brave and look for talent without having a rigid view as to what a successful person or career looks like. It is leadership’s responsibility to create an inclusive environment where all members of the team can thrive and be their best selves. Our patients, for example, are not a homogenous group. They are from different social, economic and cultural backgrounds; from UK and from across the world; adults and children. I want a fundraising team as diverse as the communities we serve, so we can better understand patients and donors’ motivations, and being brave. Our job is to ask people to give money to support our Hospitals. Let’s do that!
What excites you about the future?
Two things. Firstly, We’re at the early stages of building a ‘grateful patient programme’ with our clinicians so they feel comfortable letting their patients know about the three Hospital charities and perhaps even make an introduction to us. Secondly, we’re looking to grow the high value gifts team and recruit tenacious and skilled fundraisers, focussed on gifts that are transformative for charities. We are less interested in the value of the gifts you’ve raised than in how they raised gifts that were transformative and how they worked with people across an organisation to shape and create inspiring and bold projects. We are looking for people who are willing to test new ideas to try and reach prospects we might not have reached before.