Welcome back to another post in our series behind the YAF curtain, where we introduce you to the volunteers who keep the organisation running.
Natalie Chan, Board Member for Events and Partnerships, talks about her passion for YAF events, her journey as a freelance fundraiser and producer, and managing new challenges.
Name: Natalie Chan
Job title: General Manager, Creative Youth
Role at YAF? Board Member, Events & Partnerships
Which means…? I work within the events team to help conceive, curate, and deliver on events that fits with YAF’s mission to empower, support and equip early-career arts fundraisers. For example, most recently, I could see that fundraisers are hugely sought-after as we begin to recover from COVID so I led on an event discussing salary negotiations. It often brought difficult discussions to the forefront and so I hope the event helped people think more deeply about their worth, and ask for what they deserve.
How long have you been a fundraiser? Three years. I had started an exciting Development (fundraising) Assistant job less than 6 months before COVID-19 happened, and then found myself, like many, unemployed. I think difficult circumstances can make us become adaptable and resilient very quickly, and I actually really developed my skills in fundraising during this time. I learnt by applying for emergency funding for myself (thank you Arts Council England, Stage One, Film & TV Charity and more!), and also for projects I am an independent producer for (thank you Global Fund for Children). I joined Creative Youth later in 2020, at a point where the charity was ambitiously growing, and I think my innovative, entrepreneurial and savvy approach to fundraising and resourcing made a great fit. I am really proud to have grown with the organisation in the last 18 months. Now I am in the process of finishing my role at Creative Youth, handing over to a new brilliant General Manager and moving onto something new myself…in May I will be joining In Good Company at Derby Theatre as Creative Producer (Maternity Cover). Wish me luck!
What’s been your YAF highlight so far? The opportunity to open doors to others – I am pretty proud to say that I’ve recommended people in the YAF network for freelance jobs and know it’s worked out, as well as suggested people in more senior roles be mentors and know that they’ve enjoyed the experience.
What inspires you, and what do you think YAF can do to inspire others? We’ve all gone through so much in the past couple of years, so actually seeing leaders I admire being human and prioritising themselves is something that inspires me (and something I’m definitely learning). For YAF, I think it’s definitely continuing to be a network, voice and support for early career fundraisers.
What advice would you give to your younger self? In my experience, we often regret more about things we say no to, than things we say yes to…so yes, you should go for that opportunity/job that scares you.
Also, one thing I realised that we rarely talk about is the process of exiting a job. When you’ve voluntarily resigned to move onto new challenges, it is as important to manage this process as carefully as the onboarding process, and it is completely normal to feel a mixed bag of emotions. The past couple of years have taught me a lot about managing my time and capacity, so maintaining a balance in every way is so important!