Head of regional development, Muscular Dystrophy UK

Gary is head of regional development for the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK.

What is your job?

‘I’m in charge of the UK-wide fundraising team. I have 15 staff that I’m responsible for in both fundraising roles and supporter services across the UK. We raise about a quarter of the charity’s income from volunteers, supporters and people organising or taking part in fundraising events for the charity. 

‘Supporter services includes processing of donations, sending out thank you letters, manning the phone lines and sending out fundraising materials.’

What’s your working week like?

Charity fundraiser Gary speaking at a conference

‘It’s one of those roles where no two days are the same. I live in Glasgow but I do tend to work in London one or two days a week.I’ll spend some time in the head office, I’ll spend some time out with my team as we’re all spread across the UK and I’ll also spend some time speaking to volunteers and supporters.

'A good amount of my time is spent managing people and helping them to achieve their own goals.' 

Why is your job important?

‘Muscular Dystrophy is not a hugely well-known condition. The type of attention we generate is hugely important to the charity.

‘The money helps the charity fund scientific research and support services which is one of the really rewarding parts of my role. Every penny we raise makes a huge difference. 

‘I often speak to people who are affected by the condition and I hear how the charity is helping them.'

What skills are needed to succeed in a role like yours?

'I started fundraising for Cancer Research UK when I was 12. I raised £64.50 and the charity made me feel like I had raised thousands. It was because of them that I got more involved.'

‘It’s all about working with people so being a good communicator, being able to listen and being able to ask the right questions are important. There are lots of demands on your time so being good with time management is key. 

‘Being able to organise yourself and focus your attention are also important. You also need to be good at working as part of a team. 

‘You need to be able to adapt to the environment that you’re working in and never stop learning. I think it’s really important to do that and to seek out opportunities for personal development and growth. I volunteer with the Institute of Fundraising in Scotland and I think that’s been really helpful for me to grow my own networks.’

What advice would you give to someone thinking of a career similar to yours?

‘One of the reasons why I was keen on this job was I seen it as an opportunity for me to make a wider contribution. For anyone looking to get into something similar I would say think about the reasons why you want that job and make sure that it’s the right job for you.

'It’s a challenge, so that self-belief is really important to make sure that you can rise to the challenge.’

What courses, jobs and experience do you think led you to this role?

'I started fundraising for Cancer Research UK when I was 12. I raised £64.50 and the charity made me feel like I had raised thousands. It was because of them that I got more involved.

'I went on to do a BA Honours in business at Glasgow Caledonian University and I continued to fundraise. I based my dissertation on the recruitment and selection at Cancer Research UK and I was always hoping to get a job in this area. 

'My first job was as a community fundraiser with Cancer Research UK in Manchester. One thing that I found was that with the charity sector in Scotland it can be difficult to get your first job as there are fewer charities and they are much smaller. It’s also difficult if you can’t get a job because you can’t get any experience. 

'I moved back to Glasgow after three years as the area volunteer manager for Glasgow, then I took a secondment as regional manager for the West of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Following that I moved into a short-term contract for the National Autistic Society as regional manager and then I came to Muscular Dystrophy UK.'