Andy's Blog

A Blog about me, Andy. The name says it all.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fundraising Jobs

As an employee in the Charitable sector, I, like many other people, like to keep my eye on the job market. Some might say that this is good business practice, to keep an eye on the competition and to see what developments the rivals are making to their operational practices. Some might say it's good to waste time dreaming about what other jobs you could be doing. I'll leave the decision up to you.

However, what I come across time and again in my line of work (Charity Fundraising) is that all of the jobs are based primarily in that famous big smoke: London. This is appears to be because all of the Charity head offices are there. What I want to know is, why?

The charitable sector often complains that it faces an unfair and unjust image from the general public that it is wasteful, and this especially applies to spending on fundraising.

Why, then, do charities insist on placing their head offices in central London?

This surely must be one of the most expensive options available. As well as the increased costs of premises, there's salaries to think of, along with travel expenses etc etc.

Also, what about all those people, like me (!), who don't want to live and work in central London, or let half of our lives slip away paying too much to live in the home counties and then spending a vast amount of time on a commute to work? Work/life balance is increasingly becoming recognised as an important concept amongst employers. Life, after all, is too short. So why restrict the job prospects of those people who chose not to enter the rat race?

The fundraising sector, especially for certain areas like Direct Mail or Trusts and Foundations, is particularly tight in job oportunities. Look for these jobs outside of London and, beyond perhaps Oxfam and Traid Craft, there appears to be nothing. The only fundraising jobs that do appear to be in plentiful supply outside of London are Community Fundraising jobs. For those not wanting to enter this area of the sector, there is little other choice.

I am very lucky to work for a national charity, have direct mail as a key role of my job, and be able to live outside of London. We never seem to suffer due to not being within spitting distance of Buckingham Palace. I'm sure like every other direct marketing officer, I arrange things by phone and email, get proofs sent as pdfs and have most things organised without physically touching anything.

I can understand that some people will argue that it is important to be near the seat of power, especially for lobbying and other policy influence. I'm sure it is. But why does the whole Head Office need to be located within easy reach of the Houses of Parliament or Shepherd's Bush (for that all important angry interview on BBC News 24)? Surely basing just the required people in a small, efficient office here and locating the other back room services to a cheaper part of the country (Tebay, for example. Excellent communication links, stunning food and even more stunning views) would be a more efficient and effective way of running the organisation. The international organisation I work for manages to base the majority of it's back office services in Sri Lanka and India. If we can manage to run an efficient and effective operation over this distance, why is it so difficult to put the head office in Leeds?

With current technological opportunities, more and more people, including the civil service and even the BBC, are relocating to outside of London. I think charities should be leading the way in this move. It will help cut costs, provide a better (and therefore more productive) working life to the organisation's employees, and open up the job market to those not willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of zone one.


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