Madeleine Haughton-Boakes is a current Charityworks trainee and regional fundraiser for London and the South East at Action on Hearing Loss. Here she interviews David Steadman, the Executive Director of Fundraising and Marketing at her placement organisation who describes his career path, motivations and ambitions.
Tell me a bit about your journey into and through the Third Sector?
After graduating, I took a job at an IT company doing marketing but never really cared enough about IT services. My turning point was realising that I could work all my life and maybe add about 0.1% to the entire company’s profit, or do very little and reduce their profits by about 0.1%. So I saved up to go travelling but only made it as far as France where I volunteered on a youth development project. Towards the end, when the children I was working with were losing interest, I found I was committed and motivated enough to put in 14 hour days, on my own and all of it unpaid, to get it finished – I had found what I really wanted to do in life.
After this I went back to the UK to work for the NSPCC for a year before finding I couldn’t adjust to the low pay quickly enough. Despite knowing it wasn’t the right place for me, I worked in the private sector for three years in a company that grew enormously whilst I was there so that I was able to re-enter the charity sector at a much higher level.
Next I worked at the Prince’s Trust – first by helping set up the Urban Music Festival, I then moved over to become Head of Corporate Fundraising. From here I went on to become Director of Fundraising at The Duke of Edinburgh Awards. After two years I moved to Coram when their fundraising department was at a very early stage of development. Five years later I felt the team was on track for success, and it was time for a change.
I had a big break when I met [Matthew Reed] the Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, a much bigger charity than Coram. Matthew gave me advice about how to succeed at a charity like The Children’s Society, and agreed to become my mentor. With Matthew’s support, I was able to develop my skills and eventually get the position I have today.
Through volunteering in France I discovered that every job has really hard days but the thing that is good about charity is that even on the worst day it is clear to you why you’re doing it. Admittedly, I am also scared of getting trapped in a job that doesn’t fulfil me, because so many people seem to end up in a career they never wanted. I have a keen sense of knowing when I should move on. My next ambition is to become a trustee of a major charity.
Do you know what charity or cause you are inclined towards?
How do you rank starving children in developing countries, children who need adoptive parents, saving the planet from destruction and helping vulnerable older people? More important than the cause is the thought of what you can do to help. Beyond this my ambition is to continue loving what I do and making an impact.
What do you like most and least about the charity sector?
I love working with volunteers and solving the ‘puzzle’ with supporters of what they are looking for, and how those aims can be met to benefit the charity’s recipients. And least- the hesitancy there is to invest in people. We need to change that – let’s start!