Raising the fundraising bar at The Rep

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Zahier Farid – The REP

BSc Construction Project Management student

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, more commonly known as the Birmingham Rep or just ‘The Rep’, is a producing theatre based in Centenary Square and is the longest established of Britain’s building-based theatre companies and one of its most innovative. Some well-known productions that have recently been performed at The Rep include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Wizard of Oz and Treasure Island.

The Rep’s fundraising team have plans to launch a new multi-year campaign in spring 2017 which will involve a telephone fundraising campaign. In preparation for this, the department needed some urgent support to update existing and previous donor records and ensure all fundraising data was centralised and accessible. Following a change in the CRM system, the department needed to combine all fundraising data with that on the theatre’s central ticketing database SR04.

In order to make sure this important task was completed on time, Rachel Cranny Fundraising Manager at The Rep decided to recruit Zahier Farid as a Fundraising Assistant who graduated in July 2016. Although Zahiers’ degree was in Construction Project Management and perhaps didn’t seem like the most likely candidate for a fundraising position, Rachel emphasised the importance of more employers being open minded when considering degree disciplines, because that way companies will have a greater variety of transferable skills across the board among their employees.

During the time Zahier was at The Rep, he was responsible for cleansing existing spreadsheets and uploading data to the SR04 database which involved combining data from a range of sources and updating customer tagging. Other responsibilities involved updating donation records for individual customers, trust and corporate sponsors, as well as supporting the research function of the department by helping to identify future potential donors and funders.

When reflecting on his time at The Rep, Zahier mentioned his positive experience of being an intern and said that “it gives you a breadth of experience that you can take forward with you for the future and more skills and experiences under your belt”. For example, Zahier mentioned that he was exposed to a new database management system software that he hadn’t used before that he is now efficient on.

Rachel discussed her reasons for taking on an intern through GA by saying, “In terms of the Rep’s overall mission, we’re very passionate about trying to help with the skills development of young people and giving them internships. It is something we are always looking to develop further so we’re always open to these sorts of opportunities. From a personal point of view, the fundraising department are like a lot of teams here, we’re under pressure, we have a big workload and not enough time or people to cover everything so it can stop us from progressing further. Having someone who can dedicate their time to doing a specific task properly that’s been really useful. This internship came at a very timely point for us because we actually had a deadline to work towards with transferring the data and by having Zahier here to help us we’ve achieved it this week which has been brilliant! In addition to this, there are areas in terms of research that we are really keen to keep developing so Zahier’s also been able to kick start that process for us so hopefully now we’re in a much stronger position to do our next step”.

We asked Rachel her thoughts on the application process through Graduate Advantage from an employer’s perspective and she said, “It all ran very smoothly, the process is great and I think it works seeing CVs and then getting the chance to have a chat with people before they start. The two week length of the internship was also really good for what we needed so that worked well for us”.

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