My top secret volunteering mission

Having been in contact with the Trussell Trust for a couple of months, last week I finally went to visit their head office in Salisbury and meet the volunteer coordinator to discuss how I might be able to help them over Summer. As my work with Southampton City Mission is giving me a lot of hands on experience of a food bank, I decided that my time at the Trussell Trust would be a good opportunity to see the bigger picture and to get an insight into how the UK’s largest food bank network operates in terms of fundraising, PR, marketing, and so on.

I’m not an office person by any means. I’ve somehow known this my whole life, even before I had any experience of working in an office. All the careers I’ve ever considered have been people based. But I’ve wanted to explore different aspects of working in the not for profit sector to see if I can gain some new skills or learn things that could help me set up my own business in the future. So when I turned up to work with the fundraising team at the Trussell Trust this week, I was prepared for some desk sitting and computer staring.

What I wasn’t prepared for was being sent straight back outside ten minutes after I’d arrived to walk around the nearby industrial estate! I was asked to compile a list of local businesses so that they could be approached as part of a project taking place next year in conjunction with Salisbury cathedral. Off I trotted, clipboard in hand, bewildered expression on my face, hoping I didn’t get lost and it didn’t rain, and wondering what on earth I’d signed myself up for.

Upon my return to the office, I was asked to spend the afternoon doing some research (ie. making extensive use of Wikipedia), which was more like what I’d been expecting. As the research I was doing will contribute to projects that aren’t yet ‘official’ and haven’t been made public, I’m not supposed to talk about it… How James Bond! All I will say is that trying to find a way of contacting an American rap artist with a net worth of hundreds of millions is a tall ask, even with Google on your side!

My next mission – should I choose to accept it – is to find out about a list of potential ‘major donors’. The major donor team operates separately from the corporate fundraising team, and approaches wealthy and well known individuals for funds. Of course, I’m clearly more Miss Moneypenny than James Bond in all of this. I’m sure I won’t be meeting any of the famous people on my list, even if they do agree to support the Trussell Trust. It does show though that, with the right role, working for a not for profit organisation could be more glamorous than you might expect.



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