When Reach asked Steph Senior to consider taking on the role of Development Funding Manager for the Kent MS Therapy Centre (artist’s impression pictured above) in Canterbury she admits that her initial reaction was not positive.
‘I’m certainly no ‘fundraiser’ in the traditional sense of the word,’ explains Steph. ‘For example, I’ve never organised an event in my life. But when I went to the interview for the development funding manager role, it soon became clear my concerns were unfounded.
‘What the Kent MS Therapy Centre needed was someone to help them approach trusts and charitable foundations. And the skills I have gained during 34 years in business are proving highly relevant to the job.’
Oxygen therapy patients Steph, a biochemist by training, has recently retired from a career in the medical diagnostics and chemical industries, where she held posts covering product development, marketing, sales and general management. In her new voluntary role, she is tackling the task of helping the MS Therapy Centre raise £1million to replace its ageing buildings. And she’s finding that her business skills are highly relevant to the task.
‘Bidding for funds has played a big role in my business career,’ says Steph. ‘Whether it’s tendering for research and development grants from the EU or applying for project funding to the board of a company, the basic skills involved are very similar. And it’s these same skills which I am now putting to work for the Therapy Centre.’
One of Steph’s first tasks has been to get the organisation to produce a full business plan and come up with detailed estimated costs for the proposed new building. She has also been helping management define and articulate its strategy.
‘We are adopting a classic business approach to the massive financial task we are facing, and I am pleased to see how valuable my business experience is proving to be for such a good cause,’ adds Steph. ‘I would never have believed that my professional background would prove to be so useful, or that my skills would be so easily transferable. Quite simply, I’ve come to realise that fundraising is not what I thought it was.’