Name: Paul Martin
University and degree: Part-time Masters in Strategic Charity Marketing and Fundraising at Cass Business School, London
Title: Chief Executive of the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, which provides a range of health and advice services in the North West of England
What do you actually do?
I run the organisation, particularly with respect to Marketing and positioning the organisation. This includes strategic development and liaising with the public sector. In addition, I liaise with the trustees to ensure that the organisation remains fit for purpose.
Were you always intersted in this career?
I got involved in the charity sector 20 years ago, when I began working with gay men around HIV issues. Eventually I founded the organisation that grew into the Lesbian & Gay Foundation – at the time, I couldn’t see anyone else addressing these issues. My work has been highly rewarding: I have invested the last 20 years in building up an organisation that is one of the largest of its kind in the UK.
How has your postgraduate study helped your career?
I did a part-time Masters in Strategic Charity Marketing and Fundraising at Cass Business School, London, while continuing with my day job. This took me approximately 14 months to complete. The Masters has been a great help to my work. The staff at Cass were fantastic: part-timers got exactly the same excellent level of support as those on the full-time pathway. The course has increased my confidence, and I can now write more focused and succinct reports. I learnt a great deal of theory, which has impacted positively on our strategic thinking.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides?
I get to see results almost immediately from the work our fundraising team puts in. Most of all, I enjoy seeing the difference made by our staff and volunteers. Funding in this sector is very much on a short-term basis, which means you spend a great deal of time fundraising. What’s more, lesbian and gay issues are still down in the funding pecking order. This is frustrating, and means we have to lobby very hard for change.
What do you need to succeed in this sector and do you have any advice for graduates?
Perseverance, resilience, confidence, and tenacity. You should be bursting with ideas. Get some experience as a volunteer – partly so you can be sure whether or not this sector is suitable for you. Once you’ve decided, stick with it. There are lots of opportunities coming up, as charities are taking Marketing much more seriously. Remember that successful charity brands are now major players. Many people have very positive associations with these brands. Some charities have also considerably expanded their online presence. All in all, there is huge potential in this sector for graduates interested in Marketing.