Dawn talks about her experiences volunteering in our fundraising department.
After a number of years in financial services, Dawn took time out to go travelling and is now seeking her next adventure in the charity sector.
I’m Dawn. I first started volunteering for charity when I was sixteen. This first step was driven by purely selfish reasons as I wanted to gain experience in a music-related charity. However, my outlook soon changed when I saw the passion of the other volunteers and their commitment to making a difference.
"(My dad's bipolar disorder diagnosis) made me determined to try to do what I could to help other people who were struggling in their lives."
My personal interest in mental health also started when I was a teenager when my father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Other than medical intervention, there was no other support available at the time and the impact was devastating. This was a very difficult time for everyone, but it made me determined to try to do what I could to help other people who were struggling in their lives and needed some support.
Over the next few years, alongside paid work, I volunteered as a trustee of a local charity and then as an adviser for Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). I also spent a number of Christmases helping at Crisis in London. From meeting people through these organisations I saw many more examples of the significant impact that poor mental health can have on people’s lives.
I found the work with CAB and Crisis very worthwhile and rewarding, and it inspired me to want to do more. Following redundancy from my private sector job I felt ready and able to embrace a change of direction into the charity sector, ideally into mental health.
After seeing an advert on the Mind website, I applied and was fortunate to be offered a volunteering role in the New Business Team within Corporate Partnerships Fundraising. The team works with companies wishing to partner with Mind (e.g. by nominating Mind as their Charity of the Year) or by entering in a commercial partnership arrangement where a contribution is given to Mind.
"Everyone at Mind is genuinely committed to playing their part in trying to change the lives of people with mental health needs."
What struck me from the very start was the passion and enthusiasm of everyone who works at Mind. I have never worked anywhere where people don’t routinely complain about their jobs and the organisation they are working for! Instead, everyone at Mind is genuinely committed to playing their part in trying to change the lives of people with mental health needs.
In other ways, working at Mind is similar to other jobs. The offices are open plan, it’s always busy and everyone has a role to play in their team’s success. However, it is also a very supportive environment. Staff wellbeing is taken seriously and people collaborate and work together to achieve the very best results possible. Team members are highly skilled, professional and driven to achieve very high standards.
Before coming to Mind, I had no previous experience of fundraising. However, I have been encouraged to attend training sessions and fully participate in meetings and activities to help broaden my knowledge and help me to gain new skills.
"Although I am a volunteer, I am treated as one of the team."
In my two months with Corporate Partnerships at Mind I have been involved in lots of different activities. Every day new partnership opportunities arise and support is needed to help progress and develop them. In my time so far, I’ve researched companies who are future partners of Mind, worked on creative idea development for potential commercial relationships, represented Mind at corporate events (when companies are choosing ‘Charity of the Year’ partners), contributed to innovation meetings and generally supported the team in whatever way I can.
Although I am a volunteer, I am treated as one of the team. Everyone is friendly and I have been made to feel very welcome and supported. I enjoy the fast paced environment, the variety of the work and the fact that two days are never the same. Expectations are realistic and I have been encouraged to work in ways that I have never worked before. I have been given feedback to help me develop my skills and gain more experience in what I am doing, which is already making me more productive and confident.
"In my short time with the team, I feel that I have been able to make a contribution, and that has been very rewarding for me."
I really enjoy working in the Corporate Partnerships team and for Mind. Working in the team is proving to be a really great introduction to charity fundraising and is helping me to understand the many different forms that fundraising can take, and variety of skills that fundraisers need. In my short time with the team, I feel that I have been able to make a contribution, and that has been very rewarding for me. Working within Mind itself has given me an appreciation of the wide range of tasks and roles that are needed within the organisation as a whole to help drive forward the change that is needed to improve mental health support for everyone.
I thoroughly recommend volunteering at Mind. It’s a great team to work with and Mind is such a worthwhile organisation to support.
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