Thursday, 14 March 2013

Jumping sector: One month in

I have made a leap – from the world of Higher Education Fundraising, a world that was like a cosy old jumper, a comfortable old friend – to Arts Fundraising, which currently feels like a new pair of shoes that need breaking in and are rubbing the skin off the back of my heels.

It’s hard leaving a job and a sector that you know well. Going from being a relative expert to a newbie takes adjustment.  

I am one month into the new role, and this is what I have learnt so far about jumping sector.

Believe in yourself

Even if you feel like a duck out of water, remember that there’s a reason why they employed you. Your skills are transferable, honest.  Fret not.

Be nice

First impressions really do count. Yes, people will say we should have a firm yet friendly handshake, but just being sincere and warm goes a long way. Enthusiasm begins with a smile. Don’t wait for colleagues to introduce themselves. Take the initiative and say hello, or, at the very least, catch people’s eyes and give them a grin. 

No-one likes a know it all

Do not keep mentioning what you did in your old job. Nothing will annoy colleagues quite like it.

Ask questions

No-one expects you to know everything. Ask your colleagues. No question is too stupid.  Besides, people like to help. Give your new colleagues the opportunity to help you out.

Agree to nothing

Ok, so perhaps that’s a bit dramatic – but before you know the bigger picture it can be difficult to make promises.  If, as in my case, the position has been vacant for a period of time, every-man and their dog will have a long list of projects that need funding. Listen, ask questions and tell them you’ll let them know. Promising the earth on day one will make a very large rod for your back.

Use this blog

Now I’m in a new role, I can’t tell you how much I’m drawing on the wisdom of my fellow Collectivists. I’m in at the deep end with Trust funding, so have been reading this post here , am trying to draw together several versions of a Case for Support and have gone from being in a team of 50 to being a one man band. What a wealth of expertise I have access to – thanks guys.

Finally, and most crucially  

Make the tea

This is definitely how to make friends and influence people.

Have you made a jump? Know about the Arts? I’d love to hear from you. Tweet me at

I'll put the kettle on



  1. Great advice Rachel! Reading avidly :-)

  2. I can well remember making the leap in the other direction - from the arts to the university world. Yes indeed. The skills are transferable. In my case (back then) there were probably more skilled and experienced fundraisers in the arts than Higher Education. Although my skills were mostly in corporate fundraising and membership schemes than in large scale philanthropy. From higher education I learned about major gifts and capital campaigns. Most importantly I learned how to ask for gifts from individuals. This is, I believe, the most important skill that is needed in the arts. All power to your elbow, Rachel!