Nov 28 2017

Caroline Hawley is the Director of Development, and has been in her role for the past two years. We caught up with her to find out more about the Big Give challenge, why philanthropy is so important to the College and how the Development team aim to raise £1.3 million in cash gifts by the end of the academic year. 

1.     Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role as the Director of Development? How long have you worked here?

 I’ve been in post here since November 2015, so two years now. I came from a background in arts fundraising. My previous role was Development Director at Rada - I was there for about seven years. It was quite a step moving into the traditional higher education sector - I had a lot to learn. Royal Holloway is a much bigger organisation, with many more academic fields, which made it an interesting move for me. I’ve also worked in many other arts organisations, like the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court Theatre, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts.

2.     What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway and within the Development team?

I knew that Royal Holloway was going to be a challenging environment and I love a challenge!  The reason I say this is because the culture of philanthropy and the understanding of the Development and Alumni Relations function is at a fledgling state.  As a team we need to raise our visibility and awareness of the services we provide to help all departments to relationship build effectively. We would like to help colleagues make the most of their connections with the 64,000 contactable alumni we have around the globe and with all the other external relationships we could nurture for the good of the College.

3.      What does a typical working day look like for you?

There isn’t a typical working day – every day is very varied and that’s one of the reasons why the job is so rewarding! As an example of the diversity of my week, last week I was in London one day meeting an alumna who is the Chief Executive of Business in the Community in the morning, and then meeting a trust fundraiser at the Royal Academy of Arts in the afternoon. The day before that, I was on Royal Holloway’s Strategic Leadership Programme at the Royal Berkshire Hotel in Ascot. In the evening I was at the University of London’s Foundation Day Ceremony at Senate House in the presence of our Chancellor, the Princess Royal.  This sort of event is all about networking with the guests, with the Honorary Awardees, with academic colleagues and with my counterparts at the University of London.  Even at a reception you are always on duty in this job, looking for opportunities to talk to people and work out how they might be able to help you whilst also meeting their own goals. Some days I’m in the office on campus and it’s very much about directing the team effort collectively and individually and meeting academic colleagues on campus to find out how we can provide a good service to them. I’m really lucky to have a fantastic team; there are ten of us and we work very closely together. We’re building bridges all the time with other departments, helping them to engage with their alumni to aid student recruitment or employability goals or to fundraise for what they’re doing. We’re always making friends everywhere and that’s very much a part of what we’re all about - creating and sustaining relationships for the good of the College.

4.     We are coming up to the end of term one, what would you ideally like to achieve by the end of this academic year?

We work to targets as part of all our activity.  On the fundraising side we have an aspirational target of raising about £1.3 million in cash gifts in this twelve months. At the end of the first term we’d hope to be a good third of the way, if not more, towards that goal. By the end of the year, we’d certainly like to hit, if not exceed, our target. We also have goals around how many departments we reach out to, how many departments we work closely with, how many external ambassadors we have, how many alumni we engage and how many alumni volunteers we work with. We have a whole set of metrics around how many people we are keeping in touch with, how many alumni we have on our books, who we’re reaching out to and communicating with, how many alumni have attended events, how many newsletters have gone out, and importantly, how many people have read those newsletters. We have quite a lot of metrics that we work to over a year long process, so hopefully we will have achieved what we set out to do by the end of the academic year.

5.      What advice would you give future colleagues starting at Royal Holloway?

The advice I would give people is to get out and meet as many people as you possibly can in the College, find out about all the different functions, and go to all the places you don’t know when you start. Once you become used to your routine of coming to your office, you don’t necessarily do that, once you get embroiled in the job that you’re here to do, you suddenly realise that you didn’t know that there was a café over there or you didn’t know about the Psychology Department over here, you didn’t know there was an Arboretum. There are so many places to explore on campus, and so many people to meet doing very, very different jobs.

6.     Who inspires you inside and outside of College?

We’ve started working with academic departments finding out how we can support their research activities alongside the funding they receive through the research councils and working with Research & Enterprise.  There is some really fascinating life-changing work going on such as research into bumble bee populations, combatting rare diseases, technologies that make our data and our world safer, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.  The academics working in these fields are a source of great inspiration as the work they do makes a real difference to people and can change the world.

Also, the people on campus who work to provide support for students in all sorts of ways, from financial support to the Disability and Dyslexia Service are also inspirational. Over 10 per cent of students are registered to receive support from this service and the people who run this support give so much of themselves to their work - it’s emotionally draining. I think their work is focused on improving people’s lives and this is very valuable work and deserves high recognition by us.

Externally, I am inspired by our donors, our alumni volunteers, our ambassadors and by all those in our network who help the College in some way.  They give of themselves willingly and charitably despite being very busy people.  Time is as valuable as money so giving up a bit of themselves to help us is an example to us all.

7.      With the Big Give launching today, can you tell us a bit more about it and why it is so important?

The Big Give Christmas Challenges launches today, Tuesday 28 November.  It kicks off at 12 noon. The Big Give is a matched funding initiative, run by Sir Alec Reed, of Reed Executive and the Reed Foundation. Sir Alec is not only an Honorary Fellow here, he was also a previous staff member, and he’s obviously an amazing businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He set up the Reed Foundation and also the Big Give initiative to incentivise charities to get involved and raise money for their own projects. The money raised during this one week window, is matched 100 percent, so if £100 is donated, we’ll receive a total of £200. It’s a huge incentive for people to give if they’re minded to, to good causes, and in our case it’s for scholarships and work placements for students, so it’s absolutely going straight back to support students on campus.

The wonderful thing about the Big Give is that it’s raising awareness of philanthropy as an important element of this College.  Our College is based on the founding principles of giving back, of social inclusion, of a shared goal for the good of society as a whole.

Today, as students take on greater fees and loans, we can make a difference to their lives by giving a bit of support.  This will not only make a difference to their lives but will also make us feel good that we have done our bit towards a happy and healthy student body.

8.     Other than the Big Give, are there any other big projects you are working on for term two and three?

The projects we’re raising money for in the Big Give are scholarships and work placements and of course they are endless in terms of need, so we will continue to raise money for these projects throughout the year although the Big Give is the only time in the year when donations are doubled!

We also work closely with academic departments to raise money for specific projects to help with their work.  In particular we’re helping the Holocaust Research Institute, the Hellenic Institute, the Music Department, the School of Politics, Computer Science Department and many more.  Needless to say we continue to seek funds for the Disability & Dyslexia Support Service to help the 1,000 students who are registered with this service who may need the use of laptops with assisted software, mentoring or other professional support during their time studying here.

Finally we also seek support for student clubs and societies as we recognise the importance of extra-curricular activities to the health and well-being of our students.

9.     Why is philanthropy so important to the College?

This College was founded on the philanthropy of visionaries, Thomas Holloway and Elizabeth Jesser Reid. Both were social reformers who really believed in educating young women, something that wasn’t widely thought to be important in the mid 19th century.

We need to honour the memory of these visionaries by still living the sense of philanthropy and having a shared purpose around improving lives that they both had.  As a result of their pioneering spirit and vision, we have been able to become a successful institution that has a reputation for nurturing young people in a safe and supportive environment.  By being aware of philanthropy at College, our students and staff will have a greater understanding of the importance of charitable giving in the wider world.

10.    You may have seen our latest recruitment campaign ‘Find your why’. We are interested to find out what Royal Holloway has helped you to discover about yourself…

Being an advocate for this function, Development and Alumni Relations, and for this team is my purpose here.  We have the potential to provide far reaching support to the rest of the university but at the moment we are a relatively untapped source. My role is all about raising awareness, promoting understanding internally whilst continuing to provide opportunities externally to all those who wish to engage with our exciting academic world.

If future generations of leaders at our College feel ownership and proud that philanthropy is at its heart and that it is part of the fabric of the institution, that would make me feel like I had accomplished ‘my why’.