actionaiduk fundraiser

As part of my Wonderful Women series, which celebrates all the kick-ass and inspiring women in the world, I spoke to Debbie Goddard, from ActionAidUK who gives us the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a top fundraiser and mama too…

Debbie Goddard is 45 and is the Head of Events and Community Engagement at ActionAid UK. An inspirational team leader, she has represented community fundraising within the Institute of Fundraising and presents at sector conferences.

Before she became a mum, Debbie enjoyed performing with her local amateur dramatic society and appeared on stage in a number of shows; her favourite was playing Anna in David Marber’s play; Closer.

As well as working full time, Debbie is mum to her son 4-year-old, Harry.


Describe a typical day for you?

I get up and get ready for work, while my husband gets himself and my son, Harry ready for the day. My husband drops me at the station and I ram myself on to a packed commuter train along with what feels like the rest of Surrey.

Each day at work can be very different – that’s the nature of the type of fundraising we do – we are very reactive so pretty much anything could come up.

As it’s the run up to Christmas, my team are currently very excited about our new project to encourage people to hold a ‘Faux Ho Ho’ or ‘Fake Christmas’. This is where we’re asking people to get together in the run up to the big day with their friends or colleagues and have a celebration.

This could be a meal (we have some extra special recipes and party packs to help people on their way) or just a few nibbles and bottle of fizz.

Then, at the do people will ask their guests for donations to play a game or buy a slice of cake – whatever they fancy really – to raise vital funds for ActionAid. This will enable us to support homeless children around the world this Christmas.


What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

Having my son and surviving his traumatic first few months of life intact! Within hours of Harry being born I realised something was very wrong as he started to turn blue.

After raising the alarm, Harry was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital where he underwent open heart surgery at two weeks old, again at six months old and he is due his 3rd open heart procedure in Summer 2016. Despite his early challenges, and constant worries about his health, Harry is a normal fun-loving and energetic boy.

I consider being a full-time working mum a real achievement too. There’s a constant battle and internal dialogue about how effective I can be as both. I miss out on some of the things I want to do, like dropping Harry off at pre-school and picking him up (my wonderful husband and childminder do that most days) however I work one day a week from home – that’s when I get my go!

I make the most of family-time at weekends and look forward to time off so that I can be a full-time mum and wife.


What’s in your handbag/satchel etc?

Far too much. Purse, umbrella, mobile phone, iPod, lip balm, business cards, lip gloss, nail file, tissues, pain killers, many receipts and a letter from GOSH confirming a scan date (I’m having a second baby and because of Harry’s congenital heart disease, we need to have foetal cardiac checks to see if the new baby has any similar issues – we got the all clear last week!)


What are your ambitions in life?

To be a great mum and wife and to be there for my son and my husband whenever they need me. I like to be good at what I do for a living and although I don’t feel a need for promotion; I do want to be the best I can be at that. I hope I inspire my team and am a good leader, support them in their careers and provide opportunities for development.

I also aspire to be a better friend as they sometimes get neglected and life gets in the way. We all have children of a similar age so it would be great for the kids too. Work has inspired me to arrange a Faux Christmas this year and get my friends together for some festive fun for a great cause!


What advice would you give your pre-baby self that you now know having had a child? 

Every minute of your life before you have a child is precious preparation time – have as much fun as you can and do all the things you want to do that you can – make the most of not having to arrange babysitters every time you want a night off. Make the most of being able to have hangovers too – you won’t want one when you know a tiny person is going to be bouncing around on your bed trying to get attention at 5am!

I worry a lot more as a parent, about my son and his future, about how we’re doing as parents. Pre-baby life was relatively worry-free.


Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I don’t see my life changing too much in the next five years. I’d like to hope that my work/home life balance is pretty even and that my children will be well-balanced and feel as loved as they most certainly are. By then I’ll have a nine-year-old and five-year-old.- I have a dream that I’d like to live near the coast – where I spent my early childhood – but I’d need to convince my husband of that.


What advice would you give a budding fundraiser?

I spent a lot of my early career in one organisation and while that’s great, you do get a very narrow view of the sector in which you work. In the last two years, having done some interim and consultancy roles and met some fantastic people, I have learnt so much.

The not-for-profit sector is full of wonderful people who do great things for great causes. Find them. If you don’t want to change jobs then I’d encourage you to look to industry networking groups where you can meet people from other organisations and get ideas and advice which will help you with your own career development.


Finally, happiness is…

Coming home to my husband and son, Harry. They are my real world and will be there long after my working life is done. Cuddles with Harry at bedtime are my favourite time of the day.

Help ActionAid homeless children this Christmas and host your own #FauxHoHo. Go here for more info and a fab pack.


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