4 July 2017
Martha Huntley was named the Institute of Fundraising’s best fundraising newcomer last year after raising £1.63m for anti-poverty charity Hand in Hand International. She reveals why she’s so good at her job.
I always knew that I wanted to work in international development. When I was about seven or eight my parents took me out of school for 15 weeks and we travelled around South America. I met people who had very little but were resourceful and generous. I enjoyed the trip – travelling down the Amazon rather than doing my times tables – and I think my ambition stemmed from that time.
But why fundraising? I knew I wanted to work in the third sector and a friend of the family who was a professor at Cass Business School suggested fundraising. That surprised me because I thought fundraising was more of a sales role, which wasn’t very me at all.
But then I attended a conference and heard something that changed my mind. Someone in the audience explained that as a fundraiser you are the middle man – you connect people who have a passion for making a difference with a cause they care about. I saw fundraising then as being able to give a gift from a philanthropist to the people that need their support, which really appealed to me. That belief really keeps me motivated.
We are a very small team at Hand in Hand International – 15 in a total of which four of us are fundraisers. Two of us work on major donors and corporates. I spend a lot of time researching potential donors and looking for individuals or companies who would support the cause.
To be successful in fundraising you have to be personable. You have to be able to talk to people, to get them to trust you in order to trust the cause. So it’s really important that you believe in what your charity stands for.
You have to be able to convince other people that what they do makes a difference. You have to be articulate – a lot of charities do similar things so you have to be clear about what your charity does that’s different. Hand in Hand is a small charity, but it makes a massive impact.
We have helped create 2.8m jobs – and each job supports five family members. That is a tangible impact. When I talk to CEOs it’s not their business brain I’m engaging; it’s about more homely things other than work. I talk about helping others set up their own business and becoming successful – that really appeals to business people.
There are challenges: out of maybe 10 cases you may get one success, so you have to be resilient. But if you do find the right person and you are successful it gives you a really big buzz.