Sarah Secombes: Fundraising feels good and does good

Runners fundraising for charity in The Meadows in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow
Runners fundraising for charity in The Meadows in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Raising cash brings rewards for giver and receiver, writes Sarah Secombes

Iam a proud and passionate fundraiser and it is more than just a job to me.

From a young age the drive to help others by taking on a challenge and raising money has always inspired and motivated me.

My earliest memory of giving was when I was about seven years old and my primary school held a fair for an appeal night. My parents gave me pocket money to spend with the promise that they would donate ten times that much to the charity. Ten times!

I remember feeling so excited and proud when I got home and told them I’d spent more than £2, knowing that a further £20 would go to help those who needed it. They still support my fundraising, but now they match what I give.

I still feel the same pride and joy when we receive a donation to CHAS, because I know the dedication and care that supporter took to help someone else.

Fundraising makes a difference not just to charities but to people around Scotland every day. CHAS is the only children’s hospice service in Scotland and we provide invaluable care to babies, children and young people and their families who face the future knowing that their child will die young.

Quite simply, there would be no CHAS without the thousands of supporters who tirelessly and selflessly give their time and money to our work. Over the past 25 years our supporters have raised more than £100 million. This is a remarkable amount – but they have provided more than just money. Their support gives families around Scotland time to be together and time to be cared for; time that is too often denied to them due to the complex demands of caring for their child. It is a privilege to witness the fun, laughter and normality that our hospice and home care teams create. It is the public that makes this possible.

Meeting our amazing fundraisers is just as important and the people who have had the greatest impact on me have often been those raising the money.

They are the kindest, most generous, imaginative, motivated, determined and entrepreneurial people in our society – and also brave considering some of the challenges they take on. Fundraising does that. It brings out the confidence you didn’t know you had. It gives the shy pupil something to talk to the school assembly about. It gives the university student experience of working with others and putting on a successful quiz or music night to add to their CV.

It gives the volunteer helping sign people up to our fundraising initiatives experience of projects, drive and focus – and in more cases than I can name has resulted in their getting a job. It gives back control to the family whose loved one may be going through illness, hardship or distress. When they feel there’s no way to help, they can fundraise.

At a time when there are proposed changes to fundraising regulation, I want to reassure you that CHAS is committed to the highest standard of fundraising.

We are a charity whose purpose is to care and that care extends to our supporters. For them too fundraising is about more than just money. It creates relationships and understanding; connects people with a cause, often in their own community; it builds skills, confidence and compassion and makes us think about what we can do to help and make a difference.

A 2008 study by the Centre for Wellbeing at New Economics Foundation found that giving is a key to wellbeing. Their study – which looked at life, mental health, wellbeing at work, learning difficulties and mental capital through life – found the five ways to wellbeing are to connect; be active; take notice; keep learning and give. Raising money for a charity covers all of these and more.

Fundraising also equates to wider investment in services and communities. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator figures show that for every £1 spent on fundraising by Scottish charities with an income above £25,000 they are able to raise £6. That is money that we can invest to care for the most vulnerable in our society.

Giving to charity will not instantly make people feel better, but fundraising brings many opportunities and benefits to the charity, the beneficiary, the donor and communities. CHAS would not have been established and we could not survive without support from the public.

Our vision is that every child who needs it will have access to good quality palliative care where and when they need it. We know there are many families still in need of our help and we need the public’s continued support and generosity to allow us to do that.

• Sarah Secombes is head of community fundraising at CHAS