Around this time last year, Steph and I began to talk about the possibility of recruiting another member of staff. We were very busy but were caught in a catch 22 where the idea of bringing in a new member of the team, inducting them and teaching them the job felt like too much (more) hard work! We were well aware that charities often struggle to recruit great fundraisers and so we felt as though our chances of doing so might be slim.

We work with numerous youth charities so are well aware of the problems young people face in finding employment and with university fees so high, many people are excluded from the opportunity to learn and develop once they leave school. The more we talked about the idea of an Apprentice, the more excited we got.

After some initial research we discovered that Rathbone offered a Fundraising Apprenticeship and once we’d seen the quality of the course there was no going back! The course content looked excellent and in a career where until recently there were very few people with recognised accreditations this seemed the perfect opportunity for us to help train and support the highest quality fundraiser.

The recruitment process was simple but the interviews were tough, I had forgotten how it feels to have to turn people down, especially when they are so keen and full of enthusiasm. The role of a fundraiser is demanding and we had to make sure we found someone who could cope with a heavy, varied workload but who could also show great understanding an empathy towards the charities we work with.

I am happy to say that we’ve found that person! Jess started working with us on the 1st September and is undertaking an 18 month Level 3 Apprenticeship.

Any concerns about the pressure of inducting a new member, offering sufficient training and the right level of support, were quickly removed as we found that Jess was keen to learn and quick to pick up on how she could help, coming up with suggestions and being generally proactive! As we support Jess to work through the Apprenticeship modules we can already see just how much she is learning and her approach to the work is refreshing.  We’ve found that we relish the opportunity to share our knowledge and share experiences of good (and not so good) practice, this has prompted some great conversations and sparked lots of new ideas!

In terms of challenges, we’ve discovered that it’s important to set the tone early on, we’ve evolved a flexible working style which has been earned through demonstrating trust and hard work but this is not perhaps suited to somebody entering their first full time role so we’ve had to look at our own working style and adapt it to suit everyone.  We were lucky though as Jess has a great work ethic and we have regular opportunities for feedback and sharing ideas and suggestions and (I hope!) Jess feels that she is able to raise any concerns or worries she may have with us.

Of course when considering taking on an Apprentice I think it’s it important to be realistic, you will need to ensure that your work environment is suitable, and give thought and attention to what someone new to your work might need to know. As well as putting together a plan of work for Jess, we also had to think about our daily routine as a small team working in a small office – we’ve learnt as we go along and this will be something we can continually develop and refine as we go along.

We’re only a few months in but things are going well, the Apprenticeship lasts 18 months, at the end of that time, it is our intention to offer a permanent job. However, we’re realistic – Jess may decide that Fundraising is not for her, and we’ll be pleased that we gave her the chance to find out more about the charity sector, or she may want to go on and work somewhere else, in which case we’ll be proud to have trained and supported future fundraising talent!