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Meet Lorraine, Director of Fundraising

A day in the life of Lorraine, who is the Director of Fundraising & Communications for the Sobell House Hospice Charity. In her day in the life diary, Lorraine catches up with her team and some of our supporters from her desk at home, and reflects on the different ways the Charity Team has had to adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This diary was written in February 2021.

7:30am Due to the current lockdown, the Charity Team have to work mainly from home. Normally at this time I’d be commuting to Oxford, but today I’m making the most of this spare time by taking my dogs for a long morning walk. It sets me up for the day and helps me to gather my thoughts.

8:45am Time to sit down at my desk with my third coffee of the day. The team joke that I’m never without a cup of coffee in my hand. I think it’s a throwback to having twins and needing the caffeine to keep me going through the day when they were small! I check my emails flagging the ones that require action, look at my to-do list, and then check my diary to see what calls and meetings I have today.

9:30am It doesn’t look like the lockdown will be lifting as quickly as we had hoped, so I start putting together the office rota for the coming month. During the lockdown, we have a weekly rota in place. One team member goes into the office to open the post. Then another person the day after to process the donations and send thank you letters to our supporters. It ensures we can keep up to date with postal gifts and keeps the number of people going into the office to a bare minimum.

10am It’s team meeting time. Every week I get together with my team to discuss the week ahead. It allows everyone to let each other know what they’ve been working on. Since March 2020, we have been holding these meetings via Zoom, which has proven invaluable in keeping connected. I love to hear the team’s ideas and how they are planning to engage with our supporters. We’re incredibly excited about our Memory Tree which has recently been installed at the hospice, made up of bronze, silver and gold leaves in the shape of our ‘Sobell Tree’. There is the opportunity for supporters to have a message engraved on a leaf, in exchange for a donation. It’s such a lovely way to remember a loved one.

11am Time for a coffee and a phone call with one of our supporters looking to leave a gift in his Will to Sobell House. Like many charities, legacies are an essential source of income for the hospice, and it’s terrific that people want to support us in this way. Talking to our supporters is always the highlight of my day. I love to hear about why they support Sobell House. For many, it’s because a friend or family member was cared for here, while others are simply touched by what we do. Compassion, dignity and kindness are words that come up a lot when people talk about the hospice. I can’t help but feel proud to work for such a wonderful organisation.

11:30am Next is a meeting with two team members around planning our annual Lights of Love event. Even though the event doesn’t happen until December, it requires a lot of planning and preparation. In the current climate, we need to make sure that any event we do can adapt to a virtual one, should it need to. We are always aware that Lights of Love is such an important event for our supporters, so we strive to make it the best it can be.

12:30pm I have a quick lunch break and then look at the Fundraising Plan for 2021/22. We need to raise around £2 million every year to support the running of the hospice, and it’s thanks to the generosity and kindness of our supporters that we can do this. This money comes from a mixture of donations, legacies, events, and support from local businesses and community groups. The last 12 months have been challenging due to the pandemic, as many events haven’t been able to go ahead. However, our local community has shown such kindness, and have rallied round to support the hospice. We have seen many people donate what they would have generally spent on going out for dinner, or their weekly commute, which is incredible.

1:30pm I catch up with Tim, our Corporate Partnerships Manager, to discuss our upcoming Make a Will Month in March. During this time, local solicitors kindly donate their time for free to prepare or update a Will in return for a donation to Sobell House. Tim delivers the great news that we have six local solicitor firms taking part this year.

2pm I join our weekly Senior Leadership Team (SLT) meeting via Zoom led by the Charity’s CEO, Diane. It’s an opportunity to update the rest of the SLT on what is happening in the fundraising department.

3pm I phone one of our long-standing supporters, thanking them for their annual donation. It’s also a chance to find out how they are and let them know what’s happening at the hospice. It’s great to hear they have received their Covid-19 vaccination. We’re all finding this third lockdown harder for some reason. Maybe it’s the weather or the time of year? However, hearing that people are getting vaccinated brings hope and confidence that things will improve. At the end of the call, I feel quite uplifted.

3:30pm Time to have another coffee and reply to some emails and write some letters thanking supporters for their donations. The great thing about working in fundraising is no one day is ever the same. People sometimes ask me if a hospice is a sad place to work. I always reply that, yes, there are moments of sadness, but you also see great kindness and love. I feel honoured to support the frontline staff in caring for patients and their families, and I know my team feel the same.

4pm Radio Oxford has asked me to go on their afternoon programme. I’m going to talk about how their listeners can support Sobell House this Valentine’s Day by purchasing a Sobell House Rose. As I am phoning in from my mobile, I’m conscious of any background noise and am keeping my fingers crossed that my doorbell doesn’t ring! Thankfully it all goes without a hitch. Let’s hope we have a few rose bushes purchased as a result.

4:15pm I prepare my fundraising & communications report for the upcoming Trustee board meeting. The Trustees meet every quarter, and this is an opportunity to showcase my teams work since the last meeting.

5:30pm I always finish the day by preparing my to-do list for the next day. It means I can hit the ground running tomorrow. I also use this time to reflect on the day. For me, what I do is more than just a job, it’s an opportunity to make a difference, be it large, or small, to someone’s life. We may be living in uncertain times, but focusing on ‘making a difference’ gives me direction and motivation to tackle the weeks and months ahead. With that thought, I close down my laptop, switch to ‘mum’ mode and walk the short commute from my desk to the kitchen to start preparing dinner for the family.