For me, working for charities is incredibly rewarding and one of the best decisions I made after graduating university.
Check out below three of the amazing charities I’ve worked for!
Cancer Council NSW (Australia)
Working for Cancer Council NSW was one of the best things I ever did.
Not only because I was surrounded by the most incredible people on a daily basis (some who are now my best friends) but because I woke up every day happy to be going to work, and that was an incredible feeling!
Too often I hear conversations where people are complaining about their jobs. Common themes include “I hate my job”, “every day is exactly the same”, “my colleagues are so annoying”, “my job is boring”, “too much red tape”, and the list goes on.
At Cancer Council NSW, I never experienced any of that. Well ok, maybe the annoying colleague one, but the rest of the job was amazing. Arriving at work in the mornings, I was often greeted by other teams standing at reception, handing out flowers or doing something interactive, with smiles on their faces, simply to say “have a nice day” or to raise awareness of an upcoming campaign. Before I’d even sat down at my desk, I was full of positive vibes.
The passion that everyone I worked with had for the cause was incredible. Seizing every opportunity, getting creative, collaborating together and having fun at the same time. It was the perfect balance of hard work and play.
Friday nights saw us at team dinners, sharing laughs over a few drinks and even dancing the night away on a number of occasions. Other times we were dragon boat training, getting ready for the Chinese New Year Regatta. We came close to winning the charity division a few times, but for us, it was never about winning or losing. It was about taking a risk, giving something new a go and just doing our best.
One thing that I loved about Cancer Council NSW was they were never afraid to take risks. When it came to a new campaign or a new way of working, they were always open to trying. And if something didn’t go to plan, it was never about failing, but about learning and growing from it. It’s how I now approach things in my day to day life.
When I started my role as a Community Fundraiser, at first I had no idea what the role was about. I quickly learned that as a Community Fundraiser you are the key person connecting people who have a passion about making a difference, with a cause they care about. With the charity being 96% community funded, it immediately became clear to me that by providing support to these individuals, I was able to raise vital funds for the charity. And I loved it!
Working in Community Fundraising, you often have to wear multiple hats. One minute you need to be an event organiser and social media guru and the next a web designer or a source of reassurance for your supporters. It’s safe to say that I learnt a lot!
As well as being a Community Fundraiser, I also took on a Volunteer Manager role. My heart honestly goes out to all those who give up their time to volunteer. Such incredible selfless people! Working with them was the best part of my job.
Cancer Council NSW was the first charity I ever worked for and I will always be grateful for the learning’s and opportunities I received during my time there.
Australian Red Cross (Australia)
From early on, Red Cross had been a charity I wanted to work for. Leaders in Disaster Relief and Recovery, I was fascinated with how their appeals worked both nationally and internationally.
After three years at Cancer Council NSW I was in need of a change. I saw a role being advertised at Australian Red Cross for a Fundraising Coordinator who specialised in their disaster programs. It was the perfect role for me. So I applied and was absolutely ecstatic when I received the call to say I had been successful in getting the job!
During my first few weeks, I had completed all my necessary training and was starting to get my head around how the organisation worked. Things were moving along at a nice steady pace. Then one night I turned on the news to hear that a cyclone had hit Fiji. Within hours, an appeal had been launched and it was suddenly all hands on deck. Arriving early the following morning it was nonstop phone calls, emails, donation processing, event organisation, assisting individuals with key information, the list is endless. And this went on for weeks.
It was chaotic and tiring but I would do it again in a heartbeat! It was incredibly rewarding knowing that the role I played in that appeal, raised an amazing $260, 000. The difference that money made to those affected by the cyclone was absolutely worth it.
When a disaster hits, it makes people realise how fortunate they are. It’s brought to the forefront of the public’s mind that not only lives have been lost, but those who are lucky enough to survive will often be left homeless, they won’t know where their next meal is coming from and they’ll be at risk of dying from starvation and/or infections. I was able to experience first-hand the generosity of individuals who help in a crisis like this and it truly warmed my heart.
This is why I love the charity sector so much! People giving to help another person and expecting nothing in return.
I learned a lot during my time at Australian Red Cross. Not only fundraising wise but organisation wise and humanitarian law wise. It took my passion for helping others to a whole new level, reminding me that people all over the world need just as much help as people locally.
Now when I travel, I volunteer whenever and wherever I can. Whether it’s at a soup kitchen for the homeless, a shelter for abandoned puppies or wrapping gifts for a children’s hospital at Christmas time. Every bit helps.
Marie Curie (London)
A new country, a new adventure. But one thing remains the same, my passion for helping others.
Whilst working in Australia, it was often said that the UK are the leaders in the charity sector. So when I landed at Heathrow airport, I couldn’t wait to get to my new apartment, unpack my bags and start applying for jobs.
It took longer than I thought, but after a month of applying, I secured myself an interview and then the position of Community Fundraiser at Marie Curie!
For those of you who don’t know much about Marie Curie, well they’re a charity who provide nursing care, support and guidance for people living with a terminal illness, and their families. Marie Curie nurses work night and day, in people’s homes and in hospices across the UK, providing hands-on care and emotional support.
I think quiet often it’s easy to forget about the care and support needed for those who are nearing the end of their life. Just because someone only has months, weeks or days left, doesn’t mean their quality of life should be anything less than if they were perfectly healthy. Working for Marie Curie has given me an entirely new prospective on what it means to help others and the diversity of this.
I didn’t realise at the time, just how relevant my job would be to my personal life. But I believe everything happens for a reason.
After gaining an understanding and appreciation for end of life care through my work with Marie Curie, my family experienced first-hand, just how vital in home and hospice nursing care is. In February 2017 my mum passed away from bladder cancer, and she was fortunate enough to spend the last three weeks of her life in a hospice.
Although she was in a hospice in Australia, palliative care has a commonality between countries. The focus is on the individual needs of the person as a whole, rather than simply on the terminal illness. The change in environment alone from moving my mum from the clinical room of the hospital to more of a bedroom style room in the hospice was huge. It was a relief knowing my mum was getting the best care she could in a warm environment, surround by family and friends.
Encouraging and supporting individuals to fundraise for this type of cause can be challenging at times. It can be seen as a sensitive subject, that people often shy away from. But it’s part of so many individuals reality, it was my reality and what I love about Marie Curie is the positive ways in which they approach the subject. Especially when do it and turn London yellow at the same time!
A few times a year all you see around London are people dressed in bright yellow hats with big smiles on their faces. The hat definitely looks ridiculous at times, but surprisingly gets a lot of compliments. It’s all about putting yourself out there and having a laugh, all for a good cause.
There’s definitely a noticeable difference between how fundraising works in Australia compared to the UK. I do agree that the UK are a few steps ahead, but that just makes me excited for when I eventually go back to Australia. I’ll have so much more knowledge to pass on!