BY MARK, PIONEERS UK’S PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Jill B, retired professional, but more importantly, mum of Lynn and mother-in-law to Piet, who work with Pioneers UK in Southeast Asia, has spent a lifetime raising funds for her daughter and other causes close to her heart. If, like me, you’re wondering how you might ‘do your bit’ for a Pioneers worker you know or for the office team who help hold everything together, then we can take inspiration from Jill’s experience and sense of fulfilment! She sat down (for two minutes!) to tell me about her experiences running stalls and hosting activities…
Mark: What do you enjoy most about your days manning the stand at a village fête or hosting fundraising days at home?
Jill: Meeting so many great people – the sense of working together, the friendships that grow, meeting the donors. Often, I’m told of another good cause someone is supporting and can encourage them in doing so. When fundraising for Lynn and Piet, I hear about other young people doing wonderful things in the world and know that if talking to me reminds them of others’ need of support, lots has been achieved. I’m grateful for the welcome I’m always given, the help offered when I’m on my own, the “good spots” saved for me, the visitors who come looking for me year after year.
Mark: What’s your main motivation for fundraising?
Jill: In many ways it’s to raise awareness – of Lynn and Piet and the work they do or whatever the important cause is. I’ve been to Hope Show [a popular village event in the Derbyshire Peaks] for at least 5 years and visitors often come to catch up on Lynn and Piet’s news and give generously for them. I go to a ‘Senior’ Ladies’ Knitting Group each year with an up-to-date PowerPoint of the family and their work and they ask lots of questions and they too give generously. People sort of ‘take ownership’ of them. The money is always welcome, but the interest and prayers are by far the most important. I always have boards, photos and maps on display. They catch attention too.
Mark: Does it matter to members of the public that it’s a Christian mission you are raising funds for?
Jill: No! The average members of the public identify with them as people who help others to have a better life, to have an income to meet their needs and to give their children a better future than they themselves have known. We have leaflets etc. for anyone to pick up. We’re Gideons too and take pocket sized New Testaments to give away, and usually find that 20-30 of these are either given or just disappear at most public events.
Mark: What advice would you give people wondering where to start in community fundraising?
Jill: Pray about it and then do something definite. Identify with the good cause so that you make all you say very personal – “My nephew Joe”, “Tom from our church” etc. Look at your own skills and resources and use these. Perhaps you love walking or baking – turn it into a way to raise money. Grab a stall at a community fair. Look for others who are (or may become) likeminded to help and support you. Sometimes you have to be bold and ask or even beg for an opportunity to fundraise or for equipment to use or goods to sell.
Mark: If people are working only by themselves, what activities or events would you recommend they do to get started?
Jill: Just start selling things to friends – plants/cakes/crafts/ handmade jewellery/jams – especially at times like Christmas and Easter. If you’re a tombola person, hunt out prizes – it’s often surprising how many things you have, still in mint condition, that you don’t use. Clean second hand books go down well – look in charity shops. One charity shop sells me grubby soft toys cheaply – a wash in the machine, a tumble dry, the odd stitch and they’re as good as new!
Mark: Any final words of advice, Jill, before I set up my stall or bake my cakes?
Jill: The main thing is to enjoy yourself and to enjoy all the people you meet – a smile takes you a long way to success! And to remember that success isn’t the amount of money raised – though this is always good – it’s the seeds you’ve sown, all the people you’ve talked to, all the kindness that’s been spread, and much more!