SOAS University of London

Anna McNamara

Having a background in development studies from SOAS combined with volunteering and work experience in developing countries was key to getting this role and understanding the different aspects of it on a day to day level.

Year graduated from SOAS
2005

Programme studied
MSc Development Studies

Current job title and name of organisation
Director, The Hope Foundation for Street Children

What do you like about what you do?
Every day I get to do a job I enjoy in development, and with street children, which was the focus of my dissertation at SOAS. The main focus of my role is fundraising, and securing grants and finding new supporters is extremely rewarding. I really believe in our projects and enjoy the challenge of fundraising for vulnerable children in a country I am less familiar with, and the debates around social and economic development in India. I am supported by volunteers who dedicate so much of their time and passion to HOPE. I also get the chance to promote our volunteering opportunities in Kolkata through outreach to universities, a really good child sponsorship programme and am building our fundraising in schools and among corporates so the work is incredibly varied.

How has your time at SOAS helped you succeed in this role?
My dissertation focused on street children (and included research through a voluntary placement at a centre for street children in Tanzania). I also took the module in children and development. Having a background in development studies from SOAS combined with volunteering and work experience in developing countries (as well as UK based NGOs where I gained fundraising experience) was key to getting this role and understanding the different aspects of it on a day to day level.

Can you give current students any tips on getting into this kind of work?
Jobs in development aren't all programmes based and fundraising is a really enjoyable area to work in as well! There are also a lot more jobs available in fundraising and a lot less competition for them, so I highly recommend fundraising roles within development as a career path. Trust and foundation fundraising is quite like studying development - you have to research all aspects of the project and put together a convincing argument. You may have to take other fundraising roles within non development organisations to gain experience but once you have the development and fundraising skills you can use them together. I would encourage volunteering as this may give you the extra edge over other candidates - whether in UK organisations or internationally. When you go for interviews, try to relax - the interviewer wants you to do well too!