Why is the BMA Foundation getting involved in Small Charity Week
The BMA Foundation is keen to get involved and support Small Charity Week because we firmly believe that being a small charity has many advantages. The Foundation provides seed funding to doctors and research scientists trying to get their foot on the research ladder. We are unique in this respect and are able to make a positive impact on the careers of young academics.
How small charities can use their size to harness the opportunities of volunteers
Before starting my job at the BMA Foundation, I volunteered for my local homeless charity. I loved volunteering for a small charity for numerous reasons. I really appreciated how easy the application process was: a simple, short inquiry form on their website and then a meeting with the volunteer coordinator. I explored volunteering with bigger charities, but the longer, more complex application processes put me off. Having been a volunteer myself, I am able to consider how the Foundation can best utilise our small number of volunteer ambassadors and ensure they enjoy their experience and feel their contribution is worthwhile.
As part of my induction into volunteering, I had a complete tour of the facilities and offices. It was great to see how everything was run from the admin to the front line, meet other staff, volunteers and users of the facilities and to see how my contribution would fit in. Similarly, the BMA Foundation ensures that our volunteers have a detailed knowledge of how the Foundation operates and that they are kept updated on how their contributions have helped with our successes.
The flexibility of volunteering for a small charity was convenient as my availability was often unpredictable. Staff explained that I could volunteer around my schedule, the charity were grateful for any help, even if it was irregular. The Foundation also provides this flexibility to our ambassadors: when they sign up they are not committing to a rigid programme. We make sure they know that we’re aware they are busy people and we appreciate any time they can give.
The staff at the charity were welcoming, chatty and supportive which went a long way in helping me to quickly feel part of the team. The team were communicative and appreciative and I still receive emails thanking me for volunteering and keeping me updated with the charity’s news. The BMA Foundation has a similar approach: we regularly send personal thank you notes and are currently exploring other ways of showing our appreciation within our means. We are a small team located at BMA head office, our ambassadors often pop in to say hello and catch up, which is great for maintaining personal, positive relations with them and keeping them abreast with any news.
Our ambassadors are the external face of the Foundation’s philanthropy programme: they work closely with our team to help represent the Foundation, encourage donations and identify new funding prospects.
We also work constantly to ensure that our ambassadors are involved in the best way possible. For example, the Foundation has a stand at an upcoming BMA conference which has previously been managed by staff, but this year we’ve invited our ambassadors to join us and talk about our cause. Our ambassadors have longstanding personal connections with the Foundation and are passionate about our work and its impact, making them perfect representatives. One of our ambassadors has previously received one of our grants, she has first-hand experience of the huge impact our grants have on young researchers’ careers and modern medicine. We hope that calling on our ambassadors to raise our profile is more effective and helps our ambassadors to feel valued as they have been entrusted to do an important job.
At the BMA Foundation, and as part of Small Charity Week, we are celebrating what it means to be a small charity and are excited to continue to use our size to our advantage and continue to work closely alongside our wonderful ambassadors in the best way possible.
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Hello! My name is Rosie, I have recently finished my MA degree and now work at the BMA Foundation for Medical Research, a charity that awards up to £650, 000 in grants to medical doctors and research scientists for medical research every year.