Five questions with our Fundraising Director, Susan Foster

Published : Tue 14th Jun Author : Susan Foster, Fundraising Director

What's it like to work in Fundraising at the National Trust?

Exciting, always inspiring and often extraordinary! Fundraising here isn't a dark art – we've worked to put it right at the forefront of the organisation. It's grown in profile significantly and is something that our Director General and senior leaders really support and believe in. The National Trust touches people's lives in so many ways and I'm always inspired by people's reasons for donating and the emotional connections they share with the places and spaces we look after. In Philanthropy, we work with individuals who have the most amazing individual stories and reasons for giving, which makes our roles all the more rewarding.

Why is fundraising such an important area for the National Trust?

We're an independent charity, so donations count for a huge part of our income and enable us to continue our important work. Every penny raised here is spent entirely on projects that help to protect special places and spaces. Projects like caring for the coastline, funding apprentices to learn valuable heritage building skills or conserving a historic building that adds to the richness of our culture. We don't just work on the here-and-now either. Nature is in rapid decline and as the nation's largest benefit land owner, we take a long-term view of conservation. We're thinking ahead about the potential effects of climate change and finding solutions that promote a healthier, more beautiful environment. And as all of this costs money, engaging supporters has never been more important.

What's your fundraising strategy at the National Trust?

We're working towards increasing our fundraising income to £100 million by 2020. Originally, we were looking to do this by 2025 but we're at £75 million now so we believe we can do it by 2020. Our strategy is clear and sets out six foundations for fundraising. This has made it much easier for people to give and for us to talk clearly about our cause. With key focuses on strengthening connections with major supporters and increasing our vital network, philanthropy is an important area for us.

Tell us more about Philanthropy at the National Trust.

Over recent years in Philanthropy, we've worked hard to ensure that we have the right leadership, insight and foundations in place. The team culture is brilliant: collaborative, dynamic and passionate. Now, it's about really getting out there and driving forward those relationships with major donors, looking at new ways we can do things and grow our network.

Why would someone want to come and work in Philanthropy?

The timing right now is extraordinary. The standards are set and we're ready for individuals to use their creative flair to deliver inspirational campaigns, shape meaningful relationships and really make things happen. We have so much to offer here – there really is something for everyone. It's about harnessing this to connect with people and get them involved in our cause. There's a great balance of support (right up to Board level) and autonomy too. We're constantly thinking about how we can do things better so we're genuinely interested in the ideas and perspectives people bring. And because relationship-building is so crucial to us, you really get to see the rewards of their hard work.

Susan Foster, Fundraising Director