Chris Verney, a fundraiser at Martin House Children’s Hospice, was one of the first to benefit from a new grants programme from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).
He explains how he saw the huge potential that gaining a professional qualification would give him - and how it's benefiting his colleagues and hospice patients as well.
The importance of professional development
In today’s busy workplaces, professional development can sometimes take second place behind fast-paced service delivery. But in the hospice and end of life care sector, it’s highly regarded as an initiative which has a number of holistic benefits for both the recipient and the wider organisation.
Via a process of upskilling and knowledge sharing, professional development has the power to improve everything from the quality of care that a hospice can give, to more efficient fundraising and innovative IT systems.
Chris saw that there could a huge amount of potential from doing a professional development course:
“As a fundraiser, I’m constantly on the lookout for new funding opportunities, and it just so happened that I was about to start a CIOF Diploma in Fundraising. I was delighted that the criteria for the funding included non-care roles. That demonstrated an understanding that we all contribute towards the outcomes for children and families in different, but equally valid, ways.”
The advantage of finding training that will give you real-world benefits and expertise in your current role was evident to Chris. At the time, he was devising a fundraising strategy for Martin House’s biggest ever public appeal for a capital redevelopment project.
Serendipitously, the first module on his course was all about creating a strategy for a campaign:
“I had recently moved into a new role which involved many aspects of fundraising that I had never done before, including developing a strategy, and leadership. After completing the first module, I completely redid the strategy that I had done, and used my new learning to create a much stronger plan. All of the modules align very closely with my workflow this year too, and I’ve used the course to improve my daily practice.”
Chris reflects that the funding has helped his confidence in his own ability grow. It’s undeniably a keystone of his future career:
“The course has given me more confidence, a much better understanding of fundraising, and taught me how to think critically and utilise research findings. It’s also helped me better understand leadership and communication, which will help pull the team together and work collaboratively for our biggest ever campaign.”
‘We come back better equipped to do our job’
He comments that bursaries like these play a highly important role in the sector:
“Every person I’ve met who works for a hospice has been extremely passionate about what they do and works non-stop to go above and beyond for those they care for.
"In places like hospices, where the nature of what we do is often difficult and emotional, it’s hard to find the time to break away from it and get fresh perspectives and new ideas. Grants like this give staff the chance and inspiration to do just that, and come back better equipped to do their job."
“Something that is important for many people is career progression. If there isn’t the opportunity to develop new skills, earn more or move into leadership positions, skilled people will move elsewhere for those opportunities.
"These grants enable charities of all sizes to upskill their staff and support their career progression, which will hopefully lead to easier recruitment of quality staff and better retention.”
Photo credit: Martin House Children's Hospice
‘Absolutely go for this funding!’
Chris reflects on his experience applying for the MCF bursary and offers final thoughts on people looking for a career step-change:
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed going back into training and learning new things to take straight back into my practice. It’s been great to have the time, space, and guidance to delve deeply into research and think about how the findings can apply to our context and improve our practice.
“If you’re looking to enhance your career, and there’s a course that you think will make a huge difference to you professionally – but you don’t have the budget to do it – absolutely go for this funding!”
About the MCF Bursaries for hospice staff
Having launched in autumn 2022, the MCF Bursaries for hospice staff aim to support the professional development of individual staff, significantly increasing their expertise in the work they do, rather than training or updating them in the basic skills needed for their role.
Overall, the programme aims to improve the quality of care given to the patients in need of hospice and palliative care, and to their families and carers. Bursaries are available to hospice staff in England, Wales, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
MCF Bursaries can be used to cover 80% of the costs of course fees for accredited courses (up to a max of £1,500 per person per year).
All applicants must be working in an eligible organisation as Nurse, Healthcare Assistant, Doctor, Allied Health Professional, Social Worker, Bereavement Counsellor, Administration Staff (HR, Finance, Fundraising), Spiritual Care Worker, Pharmacist, or Complementary Therapists.