​Conscious that I have an innate tendency to talk at a million miles an hour and with the added pressure of public speaking, I wanted to share some of the ideas and thoughts that came out of Tuesday’s Career Mapping conversation with the Institute of Fundraising in Manchester. It’s probably quite on topic, as public speaking is one of the areas I’m working on personally at the moment.

The event was a collaboration between the IoF and Charity People aimed at fundraisers looking for professional development and personal growth. We know that career mapping can be challenging in our sector when salary increases, training budgets and upwards movement aren’t always readily available. We had an open and frank discussion about career progression, personal development tools and practical tips on how to develop skills, gain career momentum and forward plan for future ambitions.

We covered how to challenge and push internally to achieve your goals for development. Here, I’m going to focus externally and where you can look for learning opportunities (on a budget). Some of these may be specific to Manchester because that’s where I live, but there will be similar local events and activities if you’re willing to do a bit of digging. This is by no means an exhaustive list – just a few ideas to get us started. If you’d like to add to this list, please drop me a message and I’ll update in a few weeks’ time.

I’d start with this brilliant TED Talk by Eduardo Briceño, ‘How to get better about the things you care about’. It talks about how people who are really good at something only continue to get better by learning, which is just common sense. But the interesting thing is that the learning doesn’t have to be in that subject or specialist area, but any learning at all. Watch it and see what I mean – Eduardo explains it a lot better that I do. 

Since watching this, I’ve started learning in lots of different areas and you start to see where your learning is fluid and seeps into other areas of your life – including your job. Please bear in mind that these suggestions are not all charity related – that’s kind of the point. You can pick and choose to your own interests and hobbies, but the idea is to enrich and enhance your existing skillset, knowledge and experience.

  • Reading. Far too many brilliant books and articles to mention, but the one I keep returning to again and again is ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge.

  • Podcasts. A mix of sector-specific and personal interests. Favourites include: How To Fail, The Guilty Feminist, Do More Good, This is NOT the Mandy Johnson Show, Simon Scriver’s Amazingly Ultimate Fundraising Superstar Podcast, Cracking Charity Chat, Inner Driven Leaders, J Brown Yoga Talks, Under the Skin.

  • Find projects that excite and energise you and run with them. They don’t have to be existing projects, but could be ones you’ve imagined and created yourself. I’ve run fundraising events, done expert interview blogs, created video content for our website, started an Equality and Diversity committee… and none of it part of the ‘day job’. I’ve gained loads of skills and experience through these projects – and all CV worthy.

  • The power of social media. Bold statement, but I wasn’t half as clued up on what’s happening in the sector before I joined Twitter. You can cut out the noise and just follow key people who share interesting articles and information all the time. LinkedIn is a great tool too.

  • Events – so much to choose from. Variety is the spice of life, so I try to mix it up. I have been to TED Talks, Funzing events, sales and marketing talks, Institute of Fundraising networking. My top tip is to search on EventBrite and get creative – you won’t believe how many amazing things are happening right on your doorstep.

  • Conferences and industry events. The IoF is a reliable and constant source of brilliant learning opportunities, but there are also other fundraising and charity events that you might be interested in: Pizza For Losers and IWITOT are now both regional events. Keep your ear to the ground and ask other fundraisers for inspiration if you’re stuck. The hottest new event has to be Nikki Bell and Simon Scriver’s new virtual conference, Fundraising Everywhere.

  • Peer-to-peer learning is such a valuable tool. Seek this out internally by linking up with peers in HR, finance or service delivery and share ideas or find other fundraisers in organisations you either know or admire and meet up. Talk, share and learn together.

  • Offer your services. Could you mentor or support someone in your organisation or externally (and this could be work related or not)? I recently mentored a young person for a local youth charity and it was one of the steepest learning curves I’ve been ever on. I learned so much about myself and how to really listen.

  • Coaching. Circumstances recently changed in my organisation and I knew I would need additional support to manage those changes, so I researched and put a business case together detailing costs and the value to the organisation. Now I have an incredible coach and I’m finding it absolutely invaluable. There are lots of options out there both virtually and locally and some really affordable options. I’d highly recommend Julia Worthington’s coaching groups in Manchester

I think we could have the start of a great list of personal development top tips and practical tools here, so please do get in touch to share your suggestions and ideas and we can add to our list and support one another.

You can reach me on amelia@charitypeople.co.uk