Jessica Edington, MA International Relations (Diplomacy)
“Many roles in the non-profit sector require a great deal of volunteering experience in a relevant role, and so this internship demonstrates a commitment to the aims of many charities, as well as an enthusiasm for the work they do, and the motivation required to be successful.”
My main role was to provide support to the Community Fundraising team, who cover British Red Cross local fundraising in the counties of Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire. Although my tasks differed from day to day, this predominantly involved helping to organise community fundraising events like bucket collections and bag packing sessions, as well as undertaking general admin tasks. Most of my time was spent creating and updating spreadsheets, liaising with potential venues (like supermarkets and other large shops, as well as garden centres and town centres) through email, letters and over the telephone, and contacting volunteers to help at events.
I was responsible for managing Christmas collections, although I did assist with summer events and some trust applications as well. I was involved in building relationships with local corporate organisations, university RAG societies, rotary clubs and other community groups, as well as volunteers. There was also a lot of research involved in the role – I researched potential fundraising venues in order to create links with them, as well as community groups that could be available to help out at events. Moreover, I assisted practically with one fundraising activity, and went along to a street collection to support the volunteers on the day, who were students from a local college.
What were your main achievements?
I spent much of my internship managing local collections for the Christmas period which meant that it was my responsibility to research potential venues, create and maintain a spreadsheet for each county, and contact BRC volunteers and community groups. This task required a great deal of organisation and attention to detail, as I had to constantly update spreadsheets to ensure myself, my line manager, and my fellow interns always had access to the most up-to-date information on who had been contacted, and what the next steps were.
I was very successful in this task, as I managed to secure five events for each county, as well as volunteers and community groups willing to help out for each fundraiser. Considering how far away the dates of these events are, as well as the rural nature of each county, I am very proud of this achievement. As the average amount raised at our bucket collections and bag packing sessions is around £150, I am very pleased that I will be helping to hopefully raise over £2000 for the British Red Cross. I have also helped to secure connections and relationships with several businesses, both large and small, across the region, as well as with rotary clubs, Scouts and Girl Guides groups, and have built already existing relationships with our volunteers.
What did you enjoy the most?
The opportunity to manage and organise my own individual project was a particularly valuable experience. It gave me a real sense of responsibility, ensured I was kept busy every day, and made me feel as though I was a real part of the team. I particularly enjoyed the variety of tasks that this project allowed me to engage in. The project required me to engage in communication—both written and verbal—with the venues’ Community Champions, as well as with volunteers. So, my day-to-day experience in the office was a varied one, and managing this project meant that I was able to develop a wide range of skills.
Communication with volunteers was also an enjoyable experience. I was able to build relationships with them, and know that it improved their experience of volunteering to know that they had someone familiar to contact if they needed assistance with anything. I found this to be rewarding.
What were the hardest aspects?
It was difficult to get in contact with volunteers when I needed to determine their availability for Christmas collections. At the Worcester office, there are only a very small number of volunteers who help out regularly at fundraising events, so it can be difficult to find the necessary number of volunteers needed to hold a fundraising event. This is a common problem that many organisations that rely on volunteers are facing at the moment, and thus this challenge has given me an insight into the daily processes and problems present in the non-profit sector.
What skills have you developed?
A major skill I developed during my time with the British Red Cross is my skills in using Microsoft Office, and particularly Excel. As my Excel skills were only quite basic before, my internship has vastly improved them. As I was responsible for managing and organising Christmas collections, I was tasked with creating and updating several spreadsheets related to this.
How do you think your internship will benefit you in the future?
My internship will benefit my future career prospects in a number of ways. Firstly, the skills I have mentioned—predominantly verbal and written communication, administration, Microsoft Office and volunteer management—have enhanced my CV, and will allow me to apply for jobs I may not have had the skills for previously. Further, many roles in the non-profit sector require a great deal of volunteering experience in a relevant role, and so this internship demonstrates a commitment to the aims of many charities, as well as an enthusiasm for the work they do, and the motivation required to be successful.
I have also gained a good network of relationships with people who will be useful contacts to have in the future, such as my line manager and other staff at the Worcester office, staff from the London head office, as well as other interns from across the country, many of whom go on to pursue careers either at the Red Cross itself, or within the wider non-profit sector. It is also important to note that simply having a role at the British Red Cross—one of the largest humanitarian organisations in the world—on my CV, and being able to provide a reference from them, will be very beneficial, and will look very impressive to a potential employer.
Thank you to donors
Thank you so much for your incredibly kind donation, which has enabled me to complete a Community Fundraising internship with the British Red Cross. Without it, I would not have been able to complete my placement, as it was completely voluntary. The experience was extremely valuable, and will be instrumental in enabling me to get a head start on my chosen career path within the non-profit sector. It has provided me with the skills, experience and contacts necessary to gaining employment within the sector, and thus I am extremely grateful for your help.
With grateful thanks to the alumni donors who made the PGT Professional Development Bursary possible.