For charities like SPD, fundraising plays a critical role in ensuring that we have the necessary resources to carry out our mission fully. But fundraising is more than just raising money to keep an organisation running. It is also about promoting awareness of our cause and reaching out to more people to come onboard our journey to empower people with disabilities.
In this final installment of the Professionals’ Day Special, senior Communications and Outreach executive Chong Cai Yun speaks with one of our heroes behind-the-scenes, Adeline Tan, on the role fundraising play in ensuring that our frontline colleagues can continue to provide quality care to our clients.
1. Hello Adeline! Tell us more about yourself.
Hi! I’m Adeline and I have been working as a fundraiser for close to six years with SPD. Prior to joining SPD, I was working in various industries from banking to oil and gas. After a while, I realised that I wanted a more meaningful career. So, when I chanced upon the opening for a resource development role in SPD, I jumped at the opportunity. Today, I enjoy what I do, and I like interacting with people and connecting them to the cause they care about. I think believing in the cause, mission and vision of SPD have kept me motivated over the years.
2. As a fundraiser, what does a typical day looks like for you?
You will often find me busy working on fundraising events or projects, drafting proposals, reports or appeal letters. Among the many things that a fundraiser does, I also research and identify potential donors, reach out to prospects, and secure commitments. A big part of my work also includes building relationships with potential donors as well as engaging the existing ones.
Besides organising activities and campaigns to raise funds, I also allocate time for donor stewardship such as preparing thank you letters, impact reports and token of appreciation to donors. I also work closely with our colleagues and clients from the various programmes so that I can share with others the areas of support that is needed and positive stories to highlight the good work of our colleagues.
3. To you, what is the most surprising misconception people have about your job?
Some people think that raising funds is easy and that all fundraisers do is ask for money, but it is not the case. Fundraising is about sharing our mission with the general public. It is about aligning the charity’s values with the donors’ values. It is also about garnering resources and channelling them to the different areas that require support.
Lastly, it is about building a good donor relationship. It is not easy to get the buy-in of a donor without first developing a trusting relationship. Very often, the process of securing gifts, especially major ones, requires time and a lot of fine-tuning to align to the needs of the donors before we can get a commitment. We do not always ask for money, we make friends, engage our donors and strive to maintain a good relationship with all our donors. Over the years, we are very fortunate to have several long-term donors and corporate partners who share our vision and have stayed with us for many years.
4. Being able to build trust and rapport with donors are indeed important traits of a good fundraiser. What other attributes do you feel are necessary to do this role well?
Storytelling is a vital element of fundraising. So, one of the key attributes of a good fundraiser is having the ability to write and tell a compelling story, one which can appeal to the donors and evoke emotions which can more likely motivate them to give to the cause.
Another important quality to have is grit. Fundraisers have to deal with rejections often, and it is important not to let it affect one’s work.
Lastly, being innovative and adaptable are crucial. This is especially important in this tough period as we need to adapt our fundraising ways to respond to new trends and meet the changing needs of donors.
5. The COVID-19 situation has certainly disrupted the norm for many individuals and businesses. How has it affected your work in fundraising?
Now more than ever, it is exceptionally challenging to raise funds in view of the pandemic and economic climate. Donations have slowed down this year as many companies and individuals are affected by COVID-19. On top of this, we have to contend with donor fatigue as there is a myriad of causes in Singapore and overseas seeking support.
To overcome this, we must adapt and come up with more innovative ways to raise funds and engage our donors in the post-COVID world. In response to the situation, we have stepped up and ran an integrated marketing appeal and more online campaigns. With the help from our partner, mm2 Entertainment, we pulled off our first online charity concert – the Live It Up Charity Concert, in June.
6. In your six years with us, are there any memorable moments at work?
One of my most memorable moments were the times when I worked on SPD’s biggest fundraiser, the SPD Charity Shows in the past years. Together with Mediacorp, we interviewed and filmed the lives of many of our beneficiaries. One of the stories featured our client Mr Ivan Lim, who has autism, intellectual disability and visual impairment. I witnessed first-hand the way he behaves at home and how exhausting it was for his mother to care for him 24/7. Knowing that the funds we raised go towards helping Ivan and others in similar situations to be meaningfully engaged at SPD motivates me to continue the work that I do.
Another memorable moment for me was the learning opportunity I received at the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) in 2016. I was relatively new to fundraising then, and the learning experience at the IFC has helped to bridge my skills gap, gain insights from fundraising practitioners from all over the world and broaden my perspectives in fundraising.
7. Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Adeline! To wrap up, could you share some of your hopes and aspirations moving forward?
I hope to be able to contribute more as a fundraiser so that SPD could continue to run the much-needed programmes to enable even more people with disabilities to be independent. I also hope that more people will know about SPD and support our cause.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our professionals for their dedication and professionalism. In this exceptional period, our professionals have taken the various challenges thrown their way in stride and continue to uphold SPD’s service quality values in the good work that they do.
We hope that this series of articles have given you a glimpse into the professional life of some of our staff. Stay tuned for our next themed series!