28 Jan 2015

The faces behind the fundraisers – Andy Hamill

Andy Hamill and other fundraisers 

When a charity for street children who wanted to set up a marathon walk last June contacted the BT MyDonate helpdesk, they got through to helpdesk manager Andy Hamill.

Andy was in a unique position to give them tips as he’d just completed a 90 mile walk himself, for Children in Need, a longstanding partner of BT MyDonate.

Andy had walked 90.2 miles, from Enniskillen to Belfast, alongside his BT MyDonate team colleagues Seamus Wray and Joanne McCrory. They walked through some of the worst weather Northern Ireland had seen for decades. However, Andy made it through and arrived at the BBC studios in Belfast in time for the appeal night.

“The last two miles were the hardest of the lot,” says Andy. “It was one of those events that broke you and then put you back together again as a stronger person. But we raised £12,300 and we survived. When we came into the outskirts of Belfast every step was agony. We started out as a group of 16 and only eight of us made it to the end.”

Andy’s enthusiasm for fundraising was one of the things that landed him his role at BT MyDonate.

Getting the best

“I had a synergy with it, he says. “The core role of the helpdesk is in supporting charities through registration and set up, and then supporting fundraisers and giving them hints and tips on how to maximise the use of MyDonate.”

“It can be emotionally stressful”, he says. “We are dealing with people who have had very difficult personal experiences and are often setting up pages to raise money for people they have lost – friends or children.”

Andy’s now become something of an expert on the psychology of fundraising. “When I first had the idea of walking to Belfast, people kept saying ’really?’ However, as I talked about it to more people it became more realistic.”

Don’t stop believing

He continues: “Once we had the team together it was the sceptics who said it couldn’t be done that drove us on more. With a lot of the off the wall fundraising drives, it’s the incredulity that drives you on. And the more people who get involved, the more you believe in it yourself.”

Andy describes fundraising as ‘addictive’. “Since I have got involved with BT MyDonate I now volunteer at a local cancer charity. One of the guys here takes the mickey and says ‘Andy works for charity but he doesn’t like to talk about it’ but I do genuinely find I have great job satisfaction.”

1. Make sure that you are setting yourself reasonable timescales for preparation.

2. Establish what level you are going in at, what level you want to be at, and what you need to do to get there.

3. Says Andy: “Generally, once you have money on your donate page then that’s when you become fully committed to doing it. I know a few individuals who have said, ‘I am going to do x y and z’ but I’ll start the fundraising nearer the time. They tend to be the ones who are not fully committed.”

4. See your doctor to make sure you are medically ok to do it.

5. Get the right support mechanisms in place, in terms of people and logistics.

6. Start the PR to maximise the impact. It’s never too soon to start fundraising and getting the word out.


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