Impact Awards 2018 – Teach A Man To Fish

The FSI Small Charity Big Impact Awards 2018 Series – Teach A Man To Fish (Charity with an annual turnover between £500,001 – £1.5 million)

Small charities and community groups around the country carry out vital work but in many cases people are not aware of their impact. Through the FSI Small Charity Big Impact Awards, small charities and community groups can highlight their work and the impact they make on a local, national and international level. To celebrate their achievements, over the next few months we are going to be hosting a series of guest blogs written by the winners of the 2018 Small Charity Big Impact Awards.

What makes a good story?
As Programme Development and Fundraising Manager at Teach A Man To Fish, I also manage our Communications Officer. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how many pages and hours of news are devoted to sensational and negative stories, whereas often charities struggle to get any notice for the really brilliant things they do.

Winning a FSI Small Charity, Big Impact Award 2018 meant Teach A Man To Fish got the opportunity to develop a new video about our work and make some noise about what we do. Our prize video gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. It shows how we help young people in developing countries to get skills that help them to succeed in work and life. We’ve put the video on the Home page of our website because it’s so compelling.

Is there a normal day in the office?
The essence of my job at Teach A Man To Fish is communicating what we do to build partnerships that enable us to give more young people in developing countries a better chance in life.

It could be “samey” because as an organisation we do one thing – we help young people to learn and practise new skills through planning and running a real business in their school.  But actually, every day is different in the world of fundraising, not least of all because I work with all our country teams. I can be researching the challenges within a particular country or looking at findings from published research to describe the context in which we are working. I can be reviewing project reports and data on how young people, teachers and schools are taking advantage of and benefitting from our work so that I can report on a grant.  Or I can be working with a team to develop a logical framework and budget for a new project. All this is preparation for the large part of my day-to-day work – writing convincing applications for support for our projects.

What are the challenges?
There are a lot of organisations requesting support to do good work. We respect that.  Every time we try to make the best application that we possibly can, but there are challenges. Through our work, young people grow their skills immediately, but the effect of that doesn’t become obvious until after they leave school. We get funding to work with young people in school and to track their skills improvement as a result of participating in a school business. We don’t get funding to track young people in their journey beyond school. So, we are investing in tracking graduates because we need to know how our work helps our participants in the long term. Graduate stories are critical to make a compelling case for our work.

Sometimes it takes ages and many steps to build a partnership – I am going through one of those at the moment. Sometimes we don’t hear anything at all after making an application – as if all that work never happened and we don’t have any idea why our application was rejected. I’ve learnt to let those ones go and move on. Feedback on rejected applications is valuable but we don’t often get it.

I have hours to muse when I walk to work with my dog. I am lucky as I’m allowed to bring my dog to work three days a week and there’s a big park across the road for lunchtime walks. Lunchtime walks give me that time to step back in a busy day and think differently about the best way to convey what we do.

What’s a good week?
It was a good week this week –  a thoughtful Foundation grant manager acknowledged receipt of our application, a Corporate partner thanked us for a really interesting report, information from 100 graduates in Uganda is ready to use in applications, and we had a grant for Honduras confirmed.

One piece of advice
I try and see our work through the donor’s eyes when I am writing an application or grant report. I try to concentrate on what they are interested in and give them more than they were expecting.

This blog has been written by Alison Rivett. Alison is Programme Development and Fundraising Manager at Teach A Man To Fish, who won a 2018 Small Charity Big Impact Award in the “Charity with an annual turnover between £500,001 – £1.5 million” category.

If you’re interested in applying to the 2019 Small Charity Big Impact Awards, register your interest here.