The next generation of women leaders will help ensure fundraising goes from strength to strength

: Liz Tait

I don't often agree to sitting on panels at conferences. Don't get me wrong, I love speaking at conferences - especially Fundraising Convention which is so close to my heart - but as a born introvert, let's just say I'm not a natural panel person.

But for Fundraising Convention 2017, I was asked to take part in a session on women in fundraising leadership - and I said yes. I said yes because it's such an important topic - because we need and want to see the next generation of fundraising leaders flourish.

On a very personal level over the years I’ve been interested to get advice from women in leadership roles,   particularly those that balanced big jobs with having a family. Invariably the women I spoke to had partners that were able to do more than their fair share of childcare. Or they tended to tell me what a struggle it was. I just couldn't imagine how it would work - doing a job that I lived and breathed and loved - and have space to take care of another human being. Until that point Battersea's fundraising was well and truly 'my baby'. 

But from the day I told my CEO that I was expecting she consistently told me 'you can have it all Liz' - it doesn't need to be a choice between career and family. Something I feared for so long. And two years into this motherhood business I feel so very, very lucky to have both - with a rewarding job and a little person life is full, and life is busy, but life is also brilliant. In fact it's joyous. 

And although I hesitate to say it in some small ways think I'm more effective and a better fundraiser than I was before. I have so much more perspective, I worry less, I rarely feel stressed and I sleep better at night (sleep is so precious... I simply don't let any worries about work keep me awake). I don't waste time at work (well on most days anyway) and I focus on actions. And I look at fundraising through a different lens - a lens shared by so many of our supporters. Of course like most mothers I feel guilty at times, I'm not in the office as much as I used to be and, I really do hate being the person who has to run out of meetings when the clock strikes 5pm. By the time I get to work in the morning I can sometimes feel like I've run a marathon and taking a 2 year old to cheer on Battersea's runners at events at the weekend can be pretty exhausting. But on balance, that's okay. 

We've entered a new era of fundraising and we need the next generation of fundraising leaders coming through the ranks to ensure our brilliant profession goes from strength to strength. So as I await the arrival of baby number two later this year - I share my story simply to say that women can juggle being a fundraising director and having a young family - and you don't need to delay either or make a choice. This may not be relevant to many people reading this blog but I hope it's helpful to a few. 

Liz Tait, Director of Fundraising at Battersea, IoF Trustee and former Chair of the Fundraising Convention Board 

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