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Member Profile: Annabel Hooper

Brian HargroveAnnabel Hooper is a CASE Europe graduate trainee based at Cardiff University in Cardiff, Wales. During her yearlong placement there, she'll gain experience in all areas on development, including alumni relations, prospect management, annual giving, stewardship, campaigns, major gifts, events and partnerships.

Prior to this, Hooper studied at Cardiff University, where she graduated with a first class honours in sociology.

How did you end up in a development role at Cardiff?

I have always been a people person and somebody who thrives on a challenge. I knew I wanted a meaningful career and to make a positive difference, but without the skillset to become an influential scientist or a key driver for political change, I had to think a little harder! Towards the end of my degree, I started researching different professions, and I stumbled across the CASE Europe Graduate Trainee Scheme. With little or no knowledge about fundraising or advancement at the time, I was attracted to apply because of the qualities of the role. I was really interested by the opportunity to help a university to facilitate good things, and the range of projects on the application looked interesting. After success in CASE's London assessment day, I was interviewed by my colleagues in Cardiff and was given the amazing opportunity to embark on the scheme.

What are some of the milestones you've achieved since your arrival?

One milestone that I've achieved whilst here at Cardiff University has been inheriting my own pool of fundraising prospects. I've successfully reached out to nearly 80 alumni who haven't engaged with the university before, making leadership level asks at every meeting. It's been really wonderful to re-connect these people with their old institution and to open up the world of philanthropy to many who might not have considered it otherwise. Although this is something that fundraisers across the world do on a daily basis, I still view the ongoing development of my own fundraising style in a short period of time as a personal achievement.

Another milestone was completing my secondment at Cardiff Metropolitan University, a partner university in Wales where I worked for a month as part of the scheme. I designed and sent out annual giving documents to thousands of contactable alumni, and again, several thousand hadn't been contacted before. I'm very grateful to have be given so much responsibility so early on-I never feel like an intern, but always a valued member of a development team.

What has been your greatest challenge in your current position?

As a graduate trainee, I would say that I am challenged regularly and encouraged to learn and try new things. One of my greatest challenges has definitely been donor visits—learning the etiquette required of me in a business environment and facing the challenge of making the ask. As a 21-year-old, finding my feet and confidence amongst business leaders and intellectual academics has definitely been challenging but I've loved doing it. 

Like many, I also face the challenge of never having enough time. I'm conscious that I have sometimes missed the opportunity to properly follow up on offers to shadow or learn from others in my sector, especially the professionals I meet at CASE events who are always so willing to share their experience and knowledge. I would love even more time to share best practices and to keep updated on the current news within the advancement profession.

What do you like best about your job?

The joy I get from working in this sector will always come from making a difference. I love that every day I am helping others to facilitate great things. I myself have experienced the outcome of philanthropy first hand as I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to travel to New York to undertake a placement in sociology in September 2015. I can genuinely say it changed my outlook on my degree, and added so much passion and interest to my academic experience. If I am able to raise money for others to do the same, then that's special.

What attracted you to advancement?

I'd say a real attraction to advancement for me is the culture of the profession. I love building relationships, not only with donors but with colleagues and other CASE members. I think it's fantastic how much this is encouraged on the scheme. The sector is so friendly, I work within a wonderful team at Cardiff who are always happy to go the extra mile to support my personal development, and this for me reflects a wider ethos felt by everybody who works in advancement. I also really champion the graduate scheme's structure as it's allowed me to forge life-long friendships with the rest of my cohort. The 13 of us have built a supportive network that I hope will continue far beyond the scheme's end.

Any thoughts on your first year on the job and plans for the future?

I've been in this position for nearly nine months, and it's been a whirlwind. With time moving so quickly, and having learnt so much, I intend to spend some time considering all the options that have been made available to me. Having visited University of British Columbia's development office whilst in Canada on an independent holiday, I have realised how advancement crosses boarders and the thought of working internationally for a while really appeals to me. Whatever my decision, I ultimately want to continually improve, and to hone and develop my style and technique, so that I can mould into a stronger, more capable fundraiser. Eventually, I would like to move into a position that focuses on major/principle gifts, but again I would be open to working in any development related role. In short-I'm spoilt for choice!

This article is from the BriefCASE 2017 issue.

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