Back Chat #5

Molli Edwards

July 31, 2018

Molli Edwards is a Fundraising Innovation Officer at the British Red Cross. Her role involves optimising the current ways in which the organisation raises money, as well as developing completely new approaches. A psychology MSc, she previously worked for the likes of Cancer Research UK and Oxfam.

10/07/2018, 10:04 - BTF:

Hi Molli! Just let me know when you are ready for the first question.

10/07/2018, 10:05 - BTF:

(And thanks again for agreeing to chat!)

10/07/2018, 10:46 - Molli:

Hullo! I’m ready whenever you are!

10/07/2018, 11:05 - BTF:

Lovely jubbly! Well, let’s get cracking – can you tell us what you do for a living, on the side, and for fun?

10/07/2018, 11:30 - Molli:

Why, of course! For a living I work in Fundraising Innovation at the British Red Cross. This involves taking a look at all the wonderful things that the charity does and developing new and exciting ways to bring in money to ensure that we can keep doing these wonderful things for years to come! It’s a fun and ever-changing task that involves a whole host of different stages and methods and processes so there is always something new to learn!

Now for the fun – I’m an avid (read: obsessive) charity shopper and struggle to walk past one without popping in for a rummage. Admittedly much to the frustration of my friends/family/boyfriend/colleagues/anyone who might be trying to spend time with me! I also quite enjoy a good board game and a long walk of a weekend. I promise I am not an OAP, even if my hobbies strongly suggest that I am…!

10/07/2018, 12:23 - BTF:

😅 we love charity shops too! Who can resist a spot of upcycling?!

10/07/2018, 12:23 - BTF:

And before I ask about your amazing job – what is your favourite board game?!

10/07/2018, 12:51 - Molli:

Well now that is a tricky question! It’s a close tie between one called Mysterium (basically a more flouncy Cluedo in which you are given clues by a ghost) and one called Cash and Guns that involves holding up your nearest and dearest with foam guns as you battle for stolen loot.

10/07/2018, 13:03 - BTF:

Excuse me, I need to make an emergency trip to my local games shop…! Amazing!

10/07/2018, 13:05 - BTF:

So tell us more about your innovation work – has there been a project you’ve worked on recently (or are working on now) that you’ve found particularly inspiring or important?

10/07/2018, 15:15 - Molli:

At the moment I am working on a project around the British Red Cross’ work in the UK and peoples’ perceptions of it. I have just come back from interviewing people around the country about how they feel about Britishness, about charities and about British charities in particular and it has been fascinating to hear what people think. I also got to go to a place called Ham in Sandwich which pleased me no end! I’m not sure that will ever get old, though I suspect the residents may beg to differ!

As the Red Cross is predominantly known for our work abroad it has been important for us to gauge just how much is known about our work here at home, and how much of an appetite there is to hear more about it. We have collected lots of interesting insights and I am excited to see where the project goes!

10/07/2018, 15:29 - BTF:

Sounds fascinating (and I’m not just referring to the Ham hilarity). Can you give us an example of the kind of work the British Red Cross does here in the UK? And are we allowed to have a small sneak peak of one of your insights?

10/07/2018, 16:14 - Molli:

Oh we do so ever much in the UK! From responding to UK crises (from natural disasters like floods to tragedies such as Grenfell), to offering support to aid independent living, to first aid education – a huge amount of what we do is right here at home!

10/07/2018, 16:17 - Molli:

And I would love to give you a sneak peek of an insight but we haven’t formalised them yet – I’m only just back in the office after a couple of weeks out and about. Once we have sorted through the hours of notes and interviews and pictures we should have some really exciting insights to work with 😊

10/07/2018, 16:20 - BTF:

😊 That’s ok, it was a cheeky ask (and we’ve caught you before you’ve even been able to digest your research!) It’s amazing to hear that the BRC does such vital work – and I’m glad there are plans to shout about this more.

10/07/2018, 16:21 - BTF:

Perhaps with your research in mind then, we’ll hop on to the next big question – what do you think is the biggest creative challenge facing you, your job, or your organisation?

10/07/2018, 16:51 - Molli:

Cor, that’s a big question! I think in all honesty, the largest creative challenge comes in the idea of creating something new for a charity with the history, prestige and reputation of the British Red Cross. As the charity is part of an incredible global movement, we have an awful lot to protect and be proud of. This can create barriers for new ideas – whether they come from the team I work with or elsewhere in the organisation. It’s a good challenge to have as a charity – we are lucky to have a rich history, a body of amazing work and significant brand awareness with the public – but it is a challenge nonetheless!

10/07/2018, 17:01 - BTF:

Big question met with a big answer! And articulated in a great way – seeing legacy/history as something to protect and work with when innovating, not against (as many ‘disrupters’ are want to do, with predictably frustrating results for everyone involved). It’s a tough line to tread but it sounds like you have it down to a tee.

10/07/2018, 17:02 - BTF:

On a slightly more positive (though possibly equally big) note – is there anything in the arts, social or charitable sector (aside from your own fine work) that you’ve found especially inspiring of late? Please do include pics or links if you have them! 👍👍👍

10/07/2018, 18:31 - Molli:

Ooh that is another big question! There is so much good stuff happening at the moment in the charity sector! With my love of charity shops it is admittedly the exciting things happening in charity retail sector that spring to mind. I feel like there is a huge shift happening in the way charity retail is being perceived with some exciting new collaborations happening between charity shops and luxury retailers. The past year has seen charity shop installations in Liberty, Harrods and Selfridges (I will find you links, promise) and combined with the rise of more boutique offerings, charity shops are cementing their place on high streets as legitimate shopping destinations.

This is obviously exciting for me as a shopper, but is a huge opportunity for charities as well as the more visibility and footfall a shop has, the more charities can engage with potential and current supporters. And the rebranding of some shops as luxury offerings delivers the opportunity to engage with a potentially huge (and affluent!) new audience. Of course it is important to still have shops where you can grab a bargain and have a good rummage, but I think it is exciting and inspiring to see the sector begin to diversify more and respond to consumer trends.

10/07/2018, 18:32 - Molli:

Wow – I really went in there – apologies! This is what I was talking about, charity shops are addictive!

10/07/2018, 18:37 - Molli:

Save the Children at Liberty: https://www.libertylondon.com/uk/liberty-life/what%27s-on/marys-living-and-giving-shop.html

10/07/2018, 18:42 - Molli:

(Is that even the sort of thing you are looking for?!)

11/07/2018, 12:10 - BTF:

Don’t apologise for ypur passion! This is perfect – and really rather interesting. We had no idea this was a trend! We just remember charity shops doing well after Macklemore released that ‘Thriftshop’ song… 😊

11/07/2018, 12:11 - Molli:

Haha yes, never has a rap artist some more for the second hand market!

11/07/2018, 12:12 - BTF:

Now, aside from your excellent mantra of getting down to charity shops as often as possible, can you let us know the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? It can be work related, or broader… another big question I’m afraid!

11/07/2018, 14:26 - Molli:

No small talk here! The best bit of advice I was given was in my teens by Elenor Roosevelt (not directly, via a card given to me by my mum). It said “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent” and it is never far from my mind.

11/07/2018, 14:29 - Molli:

It can seem like a negative or defensive bit of advice, but I don’t see it that way. I have a terrible habit of relying entirely on other people’s responses to validate my actions – whether that be in the workplace or something as simple as buying a gift – and that is madness! By giving everyone else the consent to decide the merit of me or my work, I can easily lose my way or give up on things that deserved more. Remembering that you are the gatekeeper to your progress and success and that you have the power to listen to other people’s opinions (or not as the case may be) is really important.

11/07/2018, 15:52 - BTF:

Solid advice – very stoic in fact (literally – we don’t mean reductively, like ‘stiff upper lip’ – the roman emperor Marcus Aurelius once said “choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.”)

11/07/2018, 15:52 - BTF:

Nice one elenor!

11/07/2018, 15:55 - BTF:

In a world of likes and shares (both socially and professionally – think LinkedIn…) it could be said that its harder than ever to have a strong sense of self determination, and harder not to seek social validation.

11/07/2018, 15:55 - BTF:

But its so important that people do exactly that – so thank you!

11/07/2018, 15:56 - BTF:

Ok, one last question (promise!) You can interpret this one however you like… what’s your one recommendation?

11/07/2018, 16:25 - Molli:

Oh absolutely- social media has made it even harder to not judge yourself in relation to others! I’m going to remember that Aurelius quote next time I stub my toe..!

11/07/2018, 16:26 - Molli:

My one recommendation? Blimey…

11/07/2018, 16:34 - Molli:

I think that it is to remember that your career path is your own. Even if it doesn’t make sense to others or match the trajectory of those around you, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t valid and that it won’t get you where you want to go.

11/07/2018, 16:35 - Molli:

My journey here was odd and I’m sure that going forward I will continue to take side steps that done necessarily seem logical to others.

11/07/2018, 16:36 - Molli:

There is much to be taken from jobs and experiences beyond the financial reward or steps on a ladder. If it builds confidence, teaches you new skills or just introduces you to new people it can be worth doing.

11/07/2018, 16:36 - Molli:

Our working lives are long (and getting even longer) and I think there is far too much pressure on knowing where you are going straight out of the gate.

11/07/2018, 16:37 - Molli:

You know what feels right for you, so do that!

11/07/2018, 16:37 - Molli:

.. can you tell this is something I need to keep reminding myself of?!

11/07/2018, 16:43 - Molli:

Also: wear sunscreen

11/07/2018, 16:56 - BTF:

Haha! What a rollercoaster of messages – I was laughing about the toe, then feeling really moved by your sincere comments, then suddenly WHAM Im chuckling again!

11/07/2018, 16:56 - BTF:

😅

11/07/2018, 16:56 - BTF:

Well Molli – THANK YOU. This little interview has been a pleasure. A treat. We hope you’ve enjoyed it. You’ve given us loads to think about

11/07/2018, 16:59 - Molli:

No, no, thank you! It has been very interesting to chat and try and think of deep answers to deep questions!

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