Life as a Fundraiser: "This is the place to be!"
Duncan works as a team leader for the fundraisers at Individuell Människohjälp (IM) in Stockholm. Globalportalen met up with him to talk about motivation, meeting the Dalai Lama and the importance of being aggressive – in a good way.
How long have you worked as a team leader?
I started working as a fundraiser for IM three years ago, and I’ve been in the team leader position for two and a half years now.
Why did you apply for the job?
I have a background in humanitarian activities and I’ve always wanted to be part of change in the world. When I heard about this job, working with girls’ education and so on, I thought “this is the place to be!”.
What does your typical work day look like?
If it’s a Monday we have a team meeting, but I also have mini-meetings with the individual team members. I have vast experience of fundraising, so I tell them what to do and encourage them – and then we go out in the field together.
Many people say “if you hadn’t insisted I wouldn’t have signed up”
I have to be an example to the team, I want to recruit as many as I can so that the others can see that it’s possible. And it’s not just to get money – it’s for a good cause!
What’s the best part of the job?
I have the passion for the job, so I enjoy being out talking to the people. My best moments are always when I’m recruiting.
What’s the most challenging part?
The weather! And one time when someone stole my bag. But apart from the weather, I also feel bad if my colleagues are offended on the street or if they are feeling sick or having a bad day.
How do you motivate your team?
Usually I remind them that we have the whole week to reach our goals.
My advice is always to smile and to be active! The body language matters. And you have to insist – not in an aggressive way, in a positive way. Many people say “if you hadn’t insisted I wouldn’t have signed up”. So be happy, stubborn and aggressive – in a good way!
What would you say to someone who is thinking about applying for a fundraiser position but is worried about the challenges?
When I first started this job my goal was to get one person to sign up each day – then I would get a one month contract. So that was my focus. In my mind I thought that it wouldn’t be easy to go out in the streets and talk to the people, that they would be unfriendly. This was the picture I had – but now I know that Swedish people are the most friendly! You have to initiate the conversation, then they open up. They’ve been so friendly. Even way they say “nej, tack” – it’s good enough! Someone has cared enough to say “no, but thank you”.
Do you have a favorite memory from your work?
My favorite memory throughout this work is when I met Dalai Lama! He called me out of a group of people and gave me a hug! But apart from that, it’s when I signed 12 people in one day.
What are your strategies for letting go of negative feelings after a bad day?
Bad days are normal. You need to convince yourself that this is just a bad day – it’s not that people didn’t like you or that you did something wrong. I learned to think that bad days are just bad days! I put them at the back of my head and just move on, I don’t let them affect my health or my mood.
My advice is always to smile and to be active! The body language matters.
I also set a daily goal – but then I look at the whole week. So if I have a bad Monday, I just push myself on the other days. I have bad days but I’ve never had a bad week!
What have you learned from this job?
Associating with people! I’ve also learned to be a team leader and to lead a team with people from different countries with different backgrounds. You practice dealing with different people, with problems, with pressure – so I’ve learned a lot!
What are your future plans?
I will keep working here as long as they need me! (laughs)