Elena Anisimava MBA, Head of Fundraising at the Belarusian Children’s Hospice, wrote,
‘If someone asks me why I decided to become a fundraiser, I would say because of THE CHALLENGE.
When I first met Anna Garchakova, the director of the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH), one year ago she asked me, ‘Will you be able to rise to the challenge, give your ambitions, your time and efforts to raise US$ 4m for building a new children’s hospice in Belarus?’ I said, ‘Definitely yes’, and started my fundraising journey at BCH.
I had 8 years’ experience in marketing and PR but I had never before worked for an NGO. The realisation that you can use your professional expertise not just for making the owner of a business wealthier but to bring change and dignity to the short but precious lives of seriously ill children became a very important part of my job.
I should explain that the Fundraising Department of BCH it was set up more than 5 years ago by one person, Maksim Padbiarozkin, who laid the ground for its current work and development. This was truly innovative in Belarus and Maksim’s salary and on-going training was funded by Friends of BCH. Nowadays, the department consists of 5 people; a corporate fundraiser, an event and community fundraiser, an international grant manager, a PR manager and me. I am head of the department and responsible for capital and major donor fundraising and big public campaigns.
Thanks to our twinning with Richard House Children’s Hospice (RHH) in London and financial support from Friends of BCH, I had the chance to make a 2-day study and exchange visit to the Fundraising Department at RHH. This visit was very important because BCH is now in the active capital fundraising phase for its new hospice building and, at the same time, we have started to reorganise the department to increase efficiency and overall fundraising performance.
I was deeply impressed by the way the fundraising department is organised at RHH. First of all, I saw a good example of the clear division of responsibilities and specialisation of each member of the Fundraising Team. Of course, this is only possible when all team members are qualified, relatively experienced and motivated. It is almost impossible to find qualified and experienced fundraisers in Belarus as this whole concept is very new to our country but it is equally perfectly possible to grow our own fundraisers based on the experience and ideas of our friends and partners in Great Britain.
The most viable ideas from the British fundraising experience which I see applicable in Belarus in the nearest future are;
• Placing small donation boxes in as many shopping areas as possible in Minsk. Until now, donation boxes have only been used by churches and are usually very big floor-standing models and not suitable to be placed near the checkout.
• Making a better community appeal through local schools and universities
• Providing a wider range of sponsorship events ranging from a triathlon, skydiving and tower abseiling to Santa runs and tea parties
• Trying to make partnerships with third party events to save our time and efforts
• Organising a charity ball in partnership with a newly built hotel which might be interested in advertising its facilities
One of the key and very simple principles is that fundraising in many cases doesn’t need a lot of creativity but rather much more planning, consistent scrupulous work and research.
For the Belarusian children’s Hospice, we see that placing more emphasis on professional and systematic fundraising is a basis for our sustainable development in the near future. This approach is already paying off.
I want to express deep gratitude to Peter Ellis, the Fundraising Team of Richard House and to Daryl Ann Hardman, chairwoman of Friends of BCH, who made my study visit to the UK not only possible but also so pleasant and comfortable!’