THE CATFISH BLOG
I've known Georgina Forbes for many years. She is constantly a source of inspiration to me. She throws herself into whatever job she is doing and I know how committed she is to her work at Romsey Mill.
What I love about Georgina is: her engaging personality, her sense of humour (time spent with Georgina always ends up in laughter), her sense of adventure, her curiosity, her interest in pretty much everything and anything, and her creativity.
So let's find out a bit more about Georgina, from the woman herself.
Can you describe your job? What do you do?
I am the Individuals and Community Fundraiser with Cambridgeshire’s leading youth and children’s charity, Romsey Mill.
We work with young children, young people and families facing really hard challenges in their lives, including many of the most vulnerable and at risk in our community, to help them improve their circumstances and achieve their potential. So what are the issues that these young people are facing? Many face isolation; have mental health concerns, and experience extreme lack of confidence, chaotic lives and poor self esteem which inhibits their progress.
By creating opportunities, and working with them we aim to help them to lead fulfilling lives, fully contribute and thrive.
I started as a volunteer at Romsey Mill, helping in the Aspire Plus youth group on a Thursday night after my day time job at the Wildlife Trust BCN. This group is for young people in main stream school, aged between 17 and 19 who have an autism diagnosis. Through volunteering I found out more about the charity’s work and applied when the fundraising role was advertised.
I guess my focus is to build relationships with people and help them to make informed choices about supporting our work. I do this through showing them what we do and sharing some of the stories of how young lives are being changed. You can’t walk up to people in the street and start that conversation, so in addition to newsletters, exhibitions and social media, I organise fundraising events which help raise money for our work but also enable us to really build those relationships and gain people’s support. Sometimes that’s in partnerships like with the annual charity walk, Bridge the Gap which we organise with Arthur Rank Hospice charity and local organisations including Cambridge Building Society and The Rotary Club. I also plan and organise other events like our Golf Tournament and the Romsey Mill Charity Gala #1 with the help of local volunteers, business sponsors and our existing network of generous supporters.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
I need to be imaginative and creative in my job. The charity sector is very competitive and as a society we are saturated with messaging about “giving”. To get noticed enough to be able to start that conversation takes planning and perseverance. I need to be a good communicator, good listener and have very thick skin. I spend a lot of time asking people for favours and finance to benefit the work of Romsey Mill and if they say “No” I have to move on until I find the person or company who will say “Yes”. It is tough but it is very rewarding. I am very fortunate really as people that want to give are some of the loveliest people to be around.
I work in a small team of four. There is the Fundraising and Communications Manager, and two part time Trust Fundraisers and me. Each year we need to raise over £1 million to cover the costs of the services Romsey Mill provides.
In addition to building relationships face to face, I create content for our social media channels and up date the website. Like most of us things seem to be pretty fast moving here so I have to keep learning and be able to adapt. There are new systems (CRM); new rules (GDPR); new appeals (Christmas Appeal) and programmes.
What is a typical working day for you?
I am up early walking my dog which prepares me for my commute on the A14. I work at Romsey Mill Centre and usually arrive by 9am. My first job is to get some coffee going. I then check my emails respond to anything pressing and plan my day around existing appointments and activities, whilst also responding to the opportunities as they arise. Sometimes I really have to jump at opportunities like an interview or attending an event to network.
Take today - I have been finalising arrangement with some of the sponsors for the Charity Gala in November. I had confirmation from Arm that they want to sponsor the entertainment on the evening (a fabulous 8 piece band Deep Blue). Then just before I left to do a radio interview on Cambridge 105, I got an email from another local company, Citrix saying they would like to sponsor the Gala Drinks Reception. What great timing! So I got to give them a mention on air whilst talking about the work of Romsey Mill. Building and developing relationships is key!
Whilst we as fundraisers are building these relationships and making plans to keep the boat afloat, the other people who work at Romsey Mill are at “the coal face” as it were. Youth Development Workers, Young Parents Outreach Workers, experts in safe-guarding and Early Years Workers. It is a great environment and although it can be very stressful there is a lot of kindness and laughter.
What do you love about your job and what isn’t so good?
What’s not so good:
How do you measure your success?
Having people contact me to say “I would like to support your charity”!
This year we were chosen by the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce as their Charity of the Year. That has given us lots of coverage through their magazine, events and networks, enabling us to reach a new audience. I have really valued their support.
What are your plans for the future?
Just like a house-hold, Romsey Mill has regular bills, so we need regular income. Monthly giving is a great way for charities to be able to effectively plan and grow their work. We are currently working to improve our existing systems in order to allow easier on-line monthly giving and see an increase in the number of people who give. And of course, Gift Aid is so much easier to claim on regular giving. That means 20% tax is given from the Treasury back to the charity.
I would like to see real growth in this area, which would be a real achievement and very timely as Romsey Mill heads towards it 40th birthday in 2020.
There is bound to be a big celebration, so be sure not to miss it.
In the meantime why not join us for our Romsey Mill Charity Gala #1 on 10th November at Hallmark Hotel, Cambridge. http://buytickets.at/romseymill/201319
Facebook & Twitter : @romseymill