Alison Goodman is Director of Income Generation and Communications at the award-winning charity Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice. Alison has been with Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice for 6 years and they have recently moved into their brand new children’s hospice building – ‘The Ark’ in Barnet! The new site and facilities are amazing and will provide support for many babies, children and young people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions, as well as their families. This wonderful charity covers North and Central London as well as Hertsmere. Alison speaks with Nicholas Ogden, Consultant at Pro-Marketing about the incredible work undertaken at Noah's Ark Children's Hospice and offers advice for people looking to progress their career in the charity fundraising/marketing sectors.
Tell us about yourself, how your career started and what you do at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice?
I am the Director of Income Generation & Comms here at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice. Born and raised in Manchester, I came to University in London to train as a Primary School Teacher. After 10 years as a teacher and Special Needs Coordinator in Islington, I took a career break before what I thought would be a Deputy Headship, then a lifelong career as a Headteacher.
During the career break I took a 6 week temp Community Fundraiser role at Terrence Higgins Trust, and left there 11 magnificent years later as a Major Donor and Celebrity Manager. After three and a half wonderful years as Head of Major Giving at Ambitious About Autism, I landed my dream job as Director of Income Generation at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice – my local hospice in Barnet.
How do Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice differentiate themselves in the market?
Noah’s Ark is a vibrant, young charity - ambitious for our children and families and committed to staff development. I have a dynamic workforce who are challenged professionally and given the opportunity to shine. That’s why we were named Fundraising Team of The Year at the Charity Times Awards.
When you interview someone for your organisation, what is the first thing you notice about a person and what does it tell you?
The first thing I notice about someone is their energy…and it tells me how they will fit in with the team. Cross team working is essential and I need to feel that any new member of staff will work well with current members of staff.
How big is your team and what advice would you give anyone applying to be part of the team?
The Income Generation & Comms Team is 17 strong. The team is a mix of subject matter experts and those new to the third sector who are learning on the job. I consider anyone with the right energy, attitude and skill set - so long as they are managed by someone with the right experience, they will be an asset to the team.
How would your team describe you?
My team would describe me as high in energy, a relationship builder with a keen eye for detail, and obsessed with donor care.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would advise my younger self to consider the third sector – it never occurred to me – I fell into it by chance.
What personal and soft skills are most important when working in the charity sector?
Anyone who has ever worked with me will know that I am obsessed with donor care and that I believe fundraising is all about relationship building. If you are a good communicator who is interested in people then the charity sector is an ideal place to use your skills.
What advice would you give to someone looking to make a move into a not-for-profit organisation from another sector?
I took a huge pay cut when I moved into the sector. I knew my skills were transferable but I didn’t have the experience. Be prepared to start at the bottom to get into the sector and then look around and see what area of fundraising appeals to you most: writing trust applications, staffing a school fair, event organising or pitching to a philanthropist - fundraising roles are diverse and not all roles suit everyone.
How do you think the role of fundraising in the not-for-profit sector has changed over the years?
Fundraising has become more professional over the years but in essence, good fundraising is as it always was: having a good case for support; finding the right supporters and then involving them at the right time and in the right way… and then looking after them.
If not in charity fundraising/marketing, what would the dream be?
I still dream sometimes of being a Head Teacher – but it’s really only in my dream because in reality, in this economic climate and with all the challenges and restrictions teachers have I think I’d feel very stressed and I’d hate it!
Any final words of advice for people looking to progress their career in the charity fundraising/marketing sectors?
It’s a wonderful sector, exciting, challenging and collaborative. Find your niche and fly.
Thanks for your time, and as a little treat for all of our readers - do you have any guilty pleasures you can share with us?
My guilty pleasure is far too regularly checking our website for online donations… but shh… don’t tell anyone.