Death of the Gala Ball: what we learnt from our annual conversation on the special events landscape

Back in 2016, the Special Events Forum and Hope Street Media started a discussion on whether the traditional gala dinner is no longer the best format for charities to raise money through events. In the past, these events have consistently raised six- or seven-figures for organisations, as well as providing an opportunity to engage both existing and new corporate, individual and celebrity supporters. However with complaints of event fatigue and a highly saturated market, coupled with budget cuts and the high cost ratio, has this type of charity event finally had its day? We picked up the conversation again, hosted at the offices of THRSXTY in Soho, with a panel of representatives from some of the UK's leading charities. 

In recent years, organisations such as Ark, the DEC, Save the Children, Unicef UK and The Prince's Trust have turned to immersive events to bring their work to life. Some have had success with raising significant income through this type of event, whilst others have mainly used the new format to reach other audiences and to present their work in a different way. So is the immersive event here to stay, or is this just a fad? 

Amanda Sinke, representing Right to Play UK, highlighted how doing something immersive didn't have to result in a dramatic shift in format. For Right to Play UK, this meant looking at storytelling and how they could bring to life their powerful and emotive stories from Africa at a ballroom in central London. Others echoed the sentiment and shared examples of how they had sought to bring something creative and interactive to their existing events, rather than change the event altogether. 

Hibba Al-Altrakchi, representing The Prince's Trust, shared the case study of the Trust's longest running gala event and how they took a risk to take the event out of the ballroom altogether and host it on the Belmond British Pullman. 

As well as reflecting the shift in focus, our audience observed that our guests should be at the heart of our plans and that our longterm supporters can help us to make these decisions and tell us what they want and expect from our events. For every organisation this will be different; when asked whether she thought that more charities should be doing something new, Hibba's response was a firm "Yes - but only if the time is right". 

As an agency, 40% of our work centres around the charity fundraising gala - our clients are still seeing great success with events of this nature - but much like those on the Forum, we continue to seek new ways of bringing our work to life at these events and doing more than just showing a charity film or delivering a speech. Just like other fundraising streams, the ever-changing sector demands that we challenge ourselves to do something different, take on our competitors and listen to the voices of our donors. 

We asked our audience to give us an idea of the future of their portfolios by a simple show of hands - it was clear that over half of the organisations represented still continue to grow their events calendars, with only a couple of organisations making a move to reduce theirs. That said, for those charities whose income is largely made up of event funds, new fundraising streams are being explored in an attempt to diversify and future-proof. 

The conversation continues and we look forward to seeing how it progresses. 

The Presidents' Club: notes on the scandal

Many of you will have read the FT article (and consequently a number of other pieces) regarding the Presidents’ Club fundraising event. In fact, I know that many of my friends, colleagues or former colleagues saw this content as no fewer than 10 (and counting) sent me the link with a variety of accompanying emojis.

As someone who has delivered charity galas and fundraising dinners for the last 10 years (the entirety of my career) and as someone whose small business serves to deliver these events, this sort of “news” is not a complete surprise and yet it something that has really grabbed people’s attention and has the potential to give the sector a bad name.

I should definitely start this by saying that I think that the behaviour referred to at the Presidents’ Club is completely unacceptable and vile. This behaviour is something I have experienced first-hand and am glad that the issue is being brought to light. 

Here are a few other observations/reflections based on my experience (in no particular order):

  1. When the #TimesUp campaign launched and indeed, when Harvey Weinstein was first exposed, my thoughts turned to the experiences I have had where tolerating inappropriate behaviour and harassment was part of the job. Although this behaviour was not always in a work context, I have vivid memories of being encouraged to wear an LBD by (female) bosses and of p*ssed men at golf days and dinner dances asking how much they could bid for me. The classic raffle selling line “£10 for one, £30 for a strip” still rings in my ears.
  2. In my experience, many charities or organising committees have willingly “used” their female staff to promote their fundraising activities on the night. I do question whether charities would put male staff in the same position however the reality is that many fundraising and events teams are made up of females. The idea that good looking staff have been hired in especially for the Presidents’ Club event is something else altogether.
  3. The concept of staff receiving a written instruction to “dress sexy” is ludicrous, right? But how many hostesses, wait staff and retail workers at bars, restaurants and stores are given similar restrictions and forced to conform to a certain “look”? I hope that this is now an opportunity for charities (and indeed corporates) to reconsider their duty of care to their staff – both females and males – when putting them in a room full of guests who have been plied with alcohol.
  4. I do find it interesting that some charities who have benefitted from this particular fundraiser are now returning the money. I don’t yet know how I feel about this or whether I think that the best thing to do. For many of the larger organisations that I have heard referenced, there should probably be due diligence in place that ensures that they are only accepting funds from reputable organisations. That said, it’s one thing for larger organisations to return Presidents’ Club’s “dirty money” but for many organisations gifts of that scale are difficult to turn down or give back.
  5. As former chair of the Special Events Forum for the charity sector – now led by the Katy Payne (Parkinson’s UK) and Elizabeth Charles (Action Against Hunger) – we have often discussed the “Death of the Gala Ball”, questioning whether the traditional gala dinner has run its course. This sort of negative publicity threatens to have a significant impact on what is a thriving industry; events fundraising plays a truly valuable part in many organisations’ fundraising and I have worked with at least a few charities whose annual gala makes up the majority of their fundraising income. So, I therefore hope that guests and donors will not be deterred from supporting these events – they really do enable great causes to raise transformative sums and there are many great examples that do this in a way that doesn’t exploit.
  6. It’s definitely worth differentiating between in-house charity events and what we in the sector refer to as “beneficiary” or “third party” events. The latter are those hosted by a group/club/company who then give a cheque for funds raised to the charity at the end. In most cases, the charity holds little or no responsibility for the processes or plans for these.

When I started as an events consultant/freelancer, my first client was an education organisation who wanted to move away from the traditional gala dinner to deliver an immersive experience. Whereas there is undoubtedly still a place and an appetite for the gala and I continue to work with lots of charities delivering this kind of event, the immersive project was one that I feel most proud of – not least because of its fundraising outcomes and the creativity that went into the content (produced by Boz Temple-Morris and the Holy Mountain team), but because of the guts that it took for the charity to move away from the regular format in order to focus the evening’s programme on its work, rather than the presentation of the food or the colour of the flowers.

I am ridiculously proud of the work my peers across the charity sector have achieved and continue to achieve. Perhaps this will remind our Directors and Senior Management Teams how important it is to ensure that they have policies and procedures in place to protect themselves and their staff. I hope that this negative publicity doesn’t reflect badly or impact the hundreds – indeed thousands – of organisations striving to deliver meaningful events and raise critical funds for their work. But I also hope it will challenge organisations to think about their fundraising activity and to ensure that every aspect of their events reflect their mission, vision and values. 

Autumn round-up: a colourful few months

Another amazing but knackering few months has passed and as we enter the Christmas season, I'm once again so proud and thankful to have worked on some fantastic events with some bloody brilliant people and organisations. 

The one with Patsy, darling! 
I have to admit I hadn't watched any of Joanna Lumley's travel documentaries until she spoke about them at this event on 15 September and I've since binge-watched whatever I could get hold of. Hosted within the beautiful surroundings of The Ned (where the service was first class), Ms Lumley was our special guest for BAFTA's Academy Circle and all of our guests left as serious fans.

We ate seabass and lemon tart (at Chef's recommendation) and drank Le Croix Belle from The Ned's beautiful cut glassware.   

The one that smashed all targets
On 19 October, the AKT Gala moved to Cafe de Paris for an evening bursting with entertainment, hosted by Gok Wan. The Gala exceeded all expectations, with the auction including the opportunity to enjoy dinner at Sir Ian McKellan's home. As always, the dance floor was packed until the early hours... 

We ate smoked chicken and papaya on blini, pan roasted Gressingham duck breast, strawberry feuillete with cognac cream.

The one with David Attenborough
On 23 October, what more can be said about this incredible evening generously hosted by Hotel Cafe Royal, one of my favourite places in London. Sir David had all 80 of our guests eating out of the palm of his hand during a Q&A hosted by his friend and former colleague Alastair Fothergill.

At an intimate supper afterwards, we ate venison loin with twice baked sweet potato souffle and braised red cabbage, followed by blackberry and apple pie with calvados cream. We drank Comtes de Taittinger and the wonderful Louis XIII. 

The one showcasing amazing emerging talent
On 25 October, the sixth annual Breakthrough Brits took place at Burberry's flagship store and we were delighted to host an informal supper afterwards at Thomas's Cafe. The event celebrates breakthrough talent in film, games and television. 

We ate cherry ponzo seared tuna, Hereford beef with Jerusalem artichoke puree, ricotta gnuddi with spiced winter tomato. We drank nothing but Nyetimber.

The one with breakfast with Doctor Foster
I binge-watched the two seasons of Doctor Foster in the two weeks prior to this breakfast on 1 November with the amazing Suranne Jones. Dressed in a jumpsuit and Converse, the former Coronation Street star had the whole room (both BAFTA and Quintessentially members) hooked as she spoke about her career to date, her production company and her plans for the future. She truly is a superwoman!

We ate mini bagels and pastries and drank Buck's Fizz and strong coffee. 

The one filled with colour
On 22 November, we worked with Richard House Children's Hospice to deliver their Rainbow Ball, where the dress code was strictly "anything but black". Our friends at Bloomsbury Ballroom hosted the event with The London Cabaret Club providing a breathtaking array of entertainment, from a contortionist to an aerial dancer. We beat all targets to raise over £350,000.

We drank Laurent-Perrier and ate heavy hors d'ouevres, cut out the starter, opted for a duck main (although we had over 40 guests request a vegetarian meal on the night - we will avoid in future!) and a rainbow-inspired white chocolate bombe. 

The one celebrating our teachers
And before we move into the Christmas period, we closed the season with an inspiring day at Teach 2017, bringing together school leaders and teachers from Birmingham and further afield for a day of learning and sharing of best practice. Our keynote speech from Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, and our panel discussion on collaboration guaranteed lively debate, with our breakout sessions providing valuable professional development opportunities focusing on teacher wellbeing, behaviour management and coaching for excellence.

We ate sandwiches and drank copious amounts of tea and coffees - it is a free conference after all...

International inspiration: some learnings from IFC 2017

Perhaps I'm being disloyal but having spoken at and attended a number of somewhat lacklustre UK fundraising conferences, I don't think that I'd prepared myself to be quite so impressed by International Fundraising Congress (IFC) in Amsterdam last month. 

Now in its 36th year, the conference brings together almost 1,000 delegates from 60 countries for presentations, workshops and masterclasses, providing learning, networking and sharing opportunities for the charity sector. From the big names like UNICEF, Red Cross and Save the Children, to local medical, research, children and animal organisations. It was an eye-opening experience to be amongst so many peers and colleagues from the sector, all striving to raise more for their work.

When in post as Chair of the UK's Special Events Forum, I remember having numerous discussions about the fact that Events Managers see themselves as fundraising professionals. With responsibility for raising six- and seven-figure amounts from our events, it's only natural that this is the case. For a number of smaller organisations, their flagship event counts for significant proportion of fundraising income. UK Top 5 charity Cancer Research UK cites that events contributed 10% of its £650m income in 2016/17. And aside from our own financial success, events teams work closely with our Major Donor, Corporate, Trusts and Foundations, Community and Individual Giving teams to provide them with a plaform to raise both funds and awareness.

I was therefore surprised to be in such a minority at IFC 2017 and to discover so few Events professionals in attendance. Those who I talked to about events had seen varying levels of success in their activity and I found myself wishing that I could work with them to help elevate their events and enable them to generate some serious income from their programmes. I would love to have an opportunity to lead on event content at IFC in the future.

My takeaways from the week included the following: 

  1. The market is changing  - Although globally there is quite a stark difference in progress in fundraising, for many, there is a clear shift from the more traditional fundraising methods and the impact of GDPR will be felt over the coming years  
  2. And yet, the need remains significant - As the gap between rich and poor widens in many contexts, fundraising targets are increasing, the number of charities is rising and the need for high impact fundraising campaigns continues to grow. Now, more than ever, fundraisers are playing a critical role in transforming lives.
  3. Formal professional development can be rewarding - More of a reminder than a learning! It's usually a low priority on our ever-growing task lists, but coming together with others across the sector and participating in interactive workshops with genuinely useful tools to take home was really valuable 
  4. The social aspect of a conference shouldn't be overlooked - Providing more meaningful relationship building than the official networking opportunities, the drinks receptions, pub quiz and 70s gala night (yes, really) gave us the chance to get to know other delegates in a very different way! 
  5. We have an opportunity to use our privilege - Keynote speakers Jeremy Heimans of Purpose and Bisi Alimi both talked about the importance of recognising and leveraging the position we are in to do some good in the world 

And we're not alone. Being amongst peers from across the world served as a welcome reminder that others are facing the same pushback from their Boards, the same politics within their organisations, the same budget cuts... As a freelancer it can be a lonely existence at times, but experiences like last week provide the recharge that we often crave. 


Fundraising Definitions

Fundraising organisations will often consist of some or all of the following departments, representing different income-generation streams.

Major Donors/Philanthropy - This team raises funds through High Net Worth Individuals, working with them to identify a funding project or gap to meet their philanthropic interests.

Corporate Partnerships - As the name suggests, this stream can be from longstanding/ongoing relationships with businesses or one-off Charity of the Year (COTY) partnerships, often part of an organisation's CSR policy.

Individual Giving or Direct Marketing - Chuggers, mailshots and TV adverts are all methods used by direct marketing teams. With the aim of raising nominal amounts from large numbers of people, they will use data segmentation to produce targeted campaigns and mailings.

Trusts and Foundations - From family trust funds to corporate foundations, there are pots of money available to charities and projects who meet the criteria. T&F teams will often work to produce detailed proposals in order to secure this funding.

It works for me: setting up as a freelancer

Over the summer I had a few weeks out of the office which included a short break in Spain, returning to a spot that I’d visited almost exactly three years ago. It is, therefore, almost exactly three years ago that I decided to set up Coveted Events.

I recently put together some notes for a friend’s blog and thought I’d share these too. The following five things were my “must haves” before I decided to move away from permanent employment and into freelance consultancy:

  1. Varied experience - Don't rely on one piece of work to carry you! I knew that I wanted to reach a senior level in events before I moved into consultancy - I wanted to be taken seriously and for my career history to speak for itself. Before I took the plunge, I deliberately sought to work or volunteer with small and large organisations, to deliver large-scale and more intimate events, and to work on team-led and independent projects, in order to demonstrate how diverse I could be. 
  2. Clear expertise – I knew that I wanted to focus on helping charitable organisations maximise the amount of money they raised through events. I’ve diversified a little since then but largely I continue to work with clients who need my support in this area. Having a niche has helped me pitch for work and to feel confident that I can add value. 
  3. A strong network of contacts within your field - I continue to be surprised at, and grateful for, the amount of work that I have become aware of through former bosses and through the wonders of social media. Remember to keep in touch, make the most of LinkedIn to stay aware of where your contacts move to and it doesn't hurt to maintain regular coffees or glasses of wine with those who could make introductions in the future. I will always remember a former colleague whose personal PR skills were second to none - she definitely inspired me to work on my profile and to focus on building working relationships with those who were influential. 
  4. A next step – Now this is entirely up to you but for me, as a planner, I needed to know what the next few weeks looked like. I made the move out of a permanent role knowing that I had a holiday lined up, followed by a piece of work that would see me through for a couple of months and help me pay the bills. This helped me sell the decision to my family and partner, and took away some of the initial fear. For others, I know that part of the attraction is the unknown and I also know how helpful it can be to have space to think and breathe and regroup, before jumping into something new. 
  5. Confidence and motivation – So finally, yes it's cheesy but I really have found it to be true! If you have reached the stage where you believe that you can do it, then put yourself out there and go for it. From this point forward, you will be your biggest advocate, particularly when you're having to prove yourself all over again to new people and clients, and your biggest motivator, particularly when you find yourself working seven days a week. 

But remember, it doesn't have to be forever. Use your freelancing time to build up your portfolio, to work with a variety of organisations, and to experience life without the infrastructure of a larger company. Permanent employment will still be there if you change your mind! 

I have often said the same about having a baby and stand by the same principle that there is never going to be a perfect time and you could put it off forever if you started listing reasons to wait. Three years in and I’m still learning and still have big ambitions for the business. 

I’m always happy to share my experiences and talk through what I’ve enjoyed/struggled with so if you want to hear more, get in touch.

Spring round-up: raising millions and launching campaigns

Traditionally, January is a quiet month in the world of events - the desk tidying, paper sorting, thumb twiddling month. Some of my best holidays have combatted the Winter blues. For some reason, 2017 started differently and over the last two months, the team has delivered nine events in as many weeks. 

We started with two drinks receptions, one to promote the work of our client and the other with Eddie Redmayne launching a fundraising campaign to the film, television and games industries. At the end of January, we enjoyed working with new suppliers Free Love Group and the wonderfully creative Mark Valentine to bring the work of the Education Partnerships Group to life in London. 

Ahead of the British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, the following week we ran the third annual Film Gala for BAFTA, with patrons Colin Firth and Emily Blunt. This year we took the event income from £250K to £400K through a brand-new VIP experience. February also saw us running two international education conferences (in Africa and Switzerland) and a whole staff away day for 150 delegates, working with etc venues.  

March has brought a Q&A with the fabulous stars of Netflix's The Crown, as part of the ongoing Academy Circle series. And to finish, over 60 pieces of student artwork went on display earlier this week at Saatchi Gallery raising money to fund enrichment programmes at Ark Schools. 

Autumn round-up: remembering a legend and celebrating new talent

October was always going to be a busy month and would have been more so had it not been for the postponement of one of our major events in November. Instead I've been working with BAFTA on two projects of very different scales.

Lord Attenborough, or Dickie as he was affectionately known, sadly died in summer 2014 and two years on I was honoured to work with his son, Michael Attenborough CBE, to deliver a celebration gala in his memory. During his lifetime and amongst numerous accolades, awards and positions, Lord Attenborough was President of both Chelsea FC and BAFTA. The two organisations worked in partnership to host the event at Stamford Bridge, bringing together the worlds of film and football.

With special guest appearances and messages from the likes of Great British names such as John Terry, Frank Lampard, Dame Penelope Wilton and Lawrence Dallaglio (a combination I never thought I would see in one room!), the evening also featured a Q&A with actors Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey, James Bond), Sanjeev Bhaskar (Goodness Gracious Me, Meet the Kumars) and Jim Carter (Downton Abbey).

After dinner entertainment saw us bringing Jersey Boys across from the West End, with an after-party at Chelsea's music venue and club, Under The Bridge (where both Olly Murs and Mel C had played earlier in the week). Aside from the delicious food and top-class entertainment, most special of all were the beautiful montages of Dickie's work and the loving tributes from his family and friends. All of the money raised on the evening was in support of the Richard Attenborough Charitable Trust. 

Just five days later, BAFTA celebrated the fourth Breakthrough Brits in partnership with Burberry. The initiative saw 18 new stars taking part in a programme under the guidance of mentors who are leaders in their field. Taking place in the stunning surroundings of Burberry's flagship UK store on Regent's Street, over 350 guests joined us for champagne and canapés and the awards announcement, which was hosted by Radio One's Greg James.

Citation readers for the event included Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, An Education), Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) and Joanne Frogatt (Downton Abbey, Street Cat Named Bob). The ceremony is delivered by BAFTA's brilliant Production and Learning and New Talent teams.

The evening was also an opportunity for BAFTA to showcase its work to those who have the potential to support with significant financial gifts and enable us to continue to support emerging talent. Burberry generously hosted an intimate dinner after the main event at the in-store cafe, Thomas's, with beautiful floral arrangements provided by Rebel Rebel. 

And the last event of the month? Being there as my best friend married her man - congratulations Beth and Rob! 

The basics

Dress code: smart and elegant

What we ate: lobster and chips, beef Wellington and millionaire's shortbread

What we drank: Nyetimber

Busman's holiday: organising a first birthday and naming ceremony

In between all of the adventures of my work projects, my daughter celebrated her first birthday and I combined this with a naming ceremony. Hosting your own party requires a tricky balance between the pressure and expectation from others versus having the motivation to organise yet another event.

Hosted at a local pub in Herne Hill which offered two spaces - space for food and space for the ceremony itself - the afternoon was intended as an informal way of celebrating our bundle of joy and all of the people who have kept us sane over the last year. Let's face it, at the tender age of one, they barely remember who you are, let alone the party you've thrown them...

The day consisted of a champagne and canapé reception, short theatre-style ceremony, followed by a finger buffet (and children's food) with cabaret seating. The Prince Regent provided all of the hot food but kindly allowed us to bring in additional salads and desserts.

My wonderful father is a retired vicar and has been wheeled out for numerous family occasions, most recently my sister's wedding and this was a new one for him. He admitted that he had dreamt that his conducting of the ceremony was so well received And I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case! I'd never even been to a naming ceremony before so resorted to googling the format and structure, which I've detailed below for anyone interested in doing the same.

Ceremony structure (thanks to the British Humanist Association)

  1. Welcome
  2. Reading
  3. Information about the child now
  4. Parental promises to the child
  5. Talking about the importance of wider family
  6. Poem
  7. Appointment of godparents and godparents’ declaration
  8. Reasons for the choice of name
  9. The naming itself
  10. Short concluding words

The beauty of this format was that it allowed us to personalise it to our needs, involving all of our favourite people in some way, whilst being able to keep it short and sweet given that there were children there.

We often shy away from organising our own events, giving the excuse of time of money or not wanting to make a fuss. But based on this experience and despite the late night baking and the inevitable sweary rants whilst we were setting up, I'd encourage you to brave it! I was incredibly grateful to all of our family and friends for making the effort to join us, overwhelmed by the number of presents we received and so thrilled to share the day with our nearest and dearest. That said, I'm already planning to have tea and cake at my mum's house next year...

The basics

Dress code: whatever you want

What we ate: mini burgers, mini sausage and mash, M&S salads, macarons, and millionaires shortbread

What we drank: pink fizz, Tiger beers and Blackcurrant squash

Photography: (c) Fria Brennan

August round-up: a breakfast debate, menu tastings and planning for the Autumn season

I've been acknowledging recently that August isn't what it used to be. Once upon a time, August used to be about having an office tidy, clearing out my drawers and taking a two-week holiday. This year seems to be quite the opposite and it feels like it's been non-stop.

Breakfast discussion
At the beginning of the month, we hosted a breakfast with the Special Events Forum focusing on the Death of the Gala Dinner. Taking place at Ark's offices in Holborn, the event saw 40 events managers from the charity sector arguing for and against the notion that "The traditional gala is dead". It's clear that organisations including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the gala dinner still generates significant funds and there continues to be a great demand for this style of event. But for others, their clients and guests have event fatigue and they feel challenged to devise new and original event concepts. Those referenced included The Elephant Family's unique format (hosting numerous simultaneous, intimate dinners across London on one night then bringing together all guests for a glitzy after party) and UNICEF's move to a standing party with VIP booths. It's clear that there's no easy answer - two hours simply wasn't enough for us to come up with a solution or to fully discuss the merits of the gala ball and how to tackle the challenges faced by less formal events. It's clear the gala ball isn't going anywhere fast but I'm intrigued to see how others develop their plans for something different...

Foodie heaven

The late nights, box lugging, hours of admin and random requests (more on this to come in my next post) are all balanced out by one of the highlights of this job - let's be honest - the food tastings! I've worked with The Recipe for a number of years and their food never disappoints. Known for their creative flair and their incredible street food, the team is on the preferred caterer list for most of the major London venues and are equally comfortable serving their food at more unusual spaces (such as a busy secondary school just a few months ago). I had the honour of joining John, Bella, Philly and the team for a beautiful lunch with the Special Events Forum committee over the summer and their more formal, three-course menu was as beautiful and as memorable as their grab foods. I'm looking forward to working with the team again soon.

Getting my ducks in a row

With 15 events to get cracking on over the coming months, it's vital for me to ensure that my project plans are rock solid and deadlines are firmly fixed in my diary. As well as getting my timelines up-to-date and event briefs complete, my team was able to take a day out to regroup and recharge and look at the dreaded bigger picture. When you're stuck in an event and the day-to-day grind, it's easy to get distracted from your wider vision, so it was really valuable to think about the mid- and long-term ideas and being in the sunshine on the gorgeous Blackheath certainly helped with our creativity! 

10 years in events means I'm pretty happy with my templates and tools but they continue to evolve. Over the next few weeks I hope to share some of these as downloads, starting with wedding tools to help loved up brides- and grooms-to-be get their heads around their plans. Watch this space...

The lobster samosa at The Recipe's summer lunch

The lobster samosa at The Recipe's summer lunch

Judgement day: Third Sector Awards

Having spoken at Third Sector magazine's Fundraising Week conference in April, it was a pleasure to be invited to be on the judging panel for the Third Sector Awards this summer, specifically for the Fundraising Event, Fundraising and Marketing Campaigns and Fundraising Team of the Year categories.

The third sector or not-for-profit sector as it is often referred to, is frequently under scrutiny and as I read through the applications for the shortlist, I was given a reminder of just some of the innovative, creative and truly groundbreaking work going on within the industry. And it is an industry - a viable one at that - full of hardworking, intelligent, career-driven professionals. Regardless of our motivations for working for and with non-profits, to assume as many do that charity workers are doing so because they couldn't succeed in a corporate environment is often far from the truth.

Reading about national campaigns that have transformed lives, behaviours and opinions, I'm bloody proud to be part of the sector! And believe that corporates could learn a great deal from some of their charity counterparts.

Of course, the results are yet to be revealed so I wish the very best of luck to all of the nominees...