Doing My Bit For Charity – by Sally Russell
I was born in March, Cambridgeshire and grew up in the village of Brampton near Huntingdon. I went to Hinchingbrooke School, the local 1800-pupil comprehensive, which gave me the best start in life. My love of all things outdoors led me to Loughborough University where, aside from playing sport and enjoying the odd pint of purple nasty, I studied Modern European Studies (Economics, Politics and German). The best thing about my degree was spending a year living in Germany – I learnt how the world worked and with five different nationalities in my flat and German our only common language, I had to learn quickly! These days I live in Hitchin and am married with three teenage children and a husband (also a positive legacy of my time at Loughborough!) who has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years.
My friends would probably describe me as kind, calm and confident. I’m also known for my lively sense of fun and my wise counsel – and for mixing the two whenever possible!
I joined Monarch in January 2014 following a number of happy years working as Community Partnerships Manager for Hertfordshire Constabulary and a long and successful career in sales and marketing before that. Compassion and community-mindedness have always been important to me and I made a positive decision that whatever I did next in my professional life would involve working with charities. This, along with my love of travel, meant that the job at Monarch was the perfect opportunity.
My day to day role involves making sure that Monarch is a responsible corporate citizen and provides effective and sustainable support to the charitable sector through fundraising, skills transfer, benefits in kind, volunteering, ambassadorship and networking. I manage the relationship with Monarch’s charity partners and look after all charity related activities including employee matched funding, strategic CSR initiatives, fundraising and events. Most recently I was responsible for the implementation of Monarch’s corporate charity partnerships review including the employee vote for new charity partners. I also act as Secretary to the Monarch Foundation charity group making sure that charity initiatives and activities are reviewed by the group and are brought alive across the business. I work with a fantastic network of charity champions who are based at all Monarch locations both in the UK and overseas and I support them in any charitable and fundraising activities they are planning. My role sits within the PR & Comms team and another element of my job is promoting the work of our charity partners and the Monarch Foundation to Monarch’s staff and customers. I write the internal comms for the Monarch Foundation on Monarch’s intranet and external articles for the press and for our inflight magazine, Passport. I also look after any other charitable activity which Monarch supports including one off campaigns, onboard charity initiatives and requests for donations.
The thing I love most about my work is helping Monarch to make a positive difference to society – playing a pivotal role in how our customers and employees can make a difference to others is extremely rewarding. I work with some wonderful charities who do amazing things and being involved with them on a daily basis means I’m lucky enough to see first-hand how important their work is and how they help those in need of support. It puts everything into perspective. Life is hard for so many people and often it is the smallest of gestures that can make a huge difference to someone. I also really enjoy supporting staff fundraising and helping to encourage those who have made the often brave step to raise money for their chosen charity.
One of the more challenging elements of my job is thinking of fun and innovative ways to engage employees and customers with our charities. But this is also one of the elements I enjoy the most as it results in a lot of enthusiasm from everyone as they get involved in all sorts of different activities! The annual Monarch “Pimp My Pod” competition is a really good example of this, with our CEO at the forefront of the fun, along with the Movember campaign, which always results in a lot of competitive hair growth from our employees and customers! Some of my highlights at Monarch have included being an international volunteer for the Homeless World Cup Foundation, working with the inspirational Blind Veteran Simon Brown; implementing a strategic review of the onboard charity collections procedure and moving to a new supplier; working on the employee vote for new charity partners and being asked as an industry expert to be a judge at this year’s Business Charity Awards.
My best moment since I joined Monarch was at the 2014 Homeless World Cup in Santiago, Chile. It was such a privilege to be a part of the phenomenal work of this small charity, which uses football to change the lives of homeless people. At the opening ceremony, Mel Young, co-Founder and President of the Homeless World Cup, said to the hundreds of players who had turned their lives around from homelessness “You are showing the world how we as human beings should behave. You are an example to the world”. Listening to those words and seeing the incredible impact of the Homeless World Cup Foundation and the way in which lives had been changed was a defining experience for me.
If you’re thinking of pursuing a career similar to mine, make sure you work for a cause you believe in, get a good grounding in marketing and communications and gain as much experience in third sector activities as you can – from volunteering to fundraising and event organisation. Being a people person and a good communicator is a must. And last but not least, you need to have a heart big enough for the incredible people you will meet, the countless acts of kindness you will see and the unbelievable resilience you will come to understand from those for whom the work of a charity is their lifeline.