Spotlight on….Fi Riley, Director & Consultant

Fi Riley About

Tell us about your role and what you do at AskRIGHT.

The three of us at AskRIGHT have two hats that we wear at all times. We’re all directors and responsible for running the business and we’re all consultants too, working with clients to understand and respond to their needs. As part of my director role I also keep an eye on the marketing side of things to make sure we’re keeping audiences updated.

AskRIGHT is six months into its new ownership – can you talk us through how it’s gone and what you’ve learned?

It’s been a whirlwind six months for sure since we took over the running of the business and we’ve definitely learnt a lot! I think one of the best things was our initial planning day when the three of us came together and created our vision for the business. We discussed what it would feel like for clients to work with us, the sort of projects we wanted to work on to maximise our expertise, but also how it felt for all of us working here, and what we wanted to get out of working in a new way.

One of the things we agreed was meeting up face to face at least once a quarter and we take so much energy and inspiration from our face-to-face time that it was definitely the right call. We’re spread out across the north and south islands which means we can work remotely and also meet clients in their offices for key meetings, but I think there’s nothing quite like the magic of the three of us coming together for our away days to drive work forwards.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m excited to be partnering with an animal charity with a global presence to help them design their gifts in Wills global strategy. They have a mammoth task on their hands and it’s really wonderful to be trusted to support them to find the solution to integrate legacy giving across their markets. Because we’re working in the global space this can mean some status meeting calls at interesting times of the day but I love how the whole team is working together to ensure the strategy incorporates insights from across the organisation

I’m keeping busy on the new business side of things too, chatting with potential clients to understand what they’re hoping to achieve from working with a consultant, and putting together proposals to meet their needs.

There’s also a lot of reflection, especially with the business at the six-month mark, to help us understand what is working well and areas we need to improve. We have a culture of continuous improvement and make sure we are consistently reviewing work to make it the best it can possibly be.

What does an ideal day look like for you?

Flexible! One of the great things about how we’ve set up our working practices at AskRIGHT is that we’re very outcomes focused. We’re all three busy with our client work and all of us have other bits and pieces that keep us occupied outside of that. I teach yoga as well as working as a consultant so an ideal day for me is one that starts with yoga, it’s a really nice way to start the day by moving the body and focusing the mind.

Once a week the team has an online huddle and it’s a lovely weekly checkpoint for us to chat about client work and what opportunities are in the pipeline, but also to just check in on each other and catch up on how we’re all doing. Any day when I’ve had the chance to chat with the other two directors is going to be a positive one. And then having some time for client work, perhaps a deep dive into some data or preparing a strategy presentation. Speaking with a client to share progress is always a really positive interaction to have in a working day and ensure our progress meets expectations. It’s important we have two-way communication with any piece of work we’re doing to make sure we’re delivering the most useful output possible.

At the end of the working day, it’s great practice to close the laptop and leave it in my study room so I’m not tempted to check emails in the evening! Work life balance is an incredibly important element for me and means I can come refreshed to the desk the next day.

What do you love about your job and what makes you proud?

I love the opportunity to work with clients across multiple causes and work streams. The variety of work we are privileged to be part of is something that I find incredibly motivating. It’s also something that makes me proud – for someone to trust us to partner with them is such an honour and there’s nothing quite like that ‘aha’ moment when you find a core insight or solution that you know is going to be the change needed to make something work. It’s a little bit of magic. Beyond that, I think the incredible support base of our directors is something quite unique and special. There’s honesty and openness in how we come together and also how we challenge and push each other to make the work as good as it can possibly be. Each of us brings something different to the partnership and so when we all input on a piece of client work it means all bases are thoroughly covered! It feels so nice knowing we all have each other’s backs and are one big team.

Tell us a little bit about your specialism and how you became an expert in that area.

I spent the formative years of my charity career as a gifts in Wills specialist. As I moved into more senior roles and grew my experience, I was lucky enough to work more strategically and across a wider range of areas and specialisms, but I guess my first charity love is legacy fundraising.

I was in a temp job in a charity that was based in a farmhouse in Somerset in the UK and remember being given a Will to read to work out how much was coming to the charity. I was still new to the sector and there was something so special about reading this document someone had prepared and realizing that amongst all the gifts to loved ones they had remembered our charity in their Will. It sparked a passion, and I sought out legacy specific roles to learn more about this area. Ultimately leaving a gift in your Will is all about relationships and it’s a values driven area of fundraising but because of the long lead in times it can be a really tricky area to get right. Fundraisers are amazing at sharing knowledge and information in this area, there’s a real sense of being in it together to help as many charities as possible learn as much collectively. Campaigns like Include a Charity are fantastic for their focus on the greatest good and I think approaches to legacy giving are one of the things the sector should be incredibly proud of.

What one change would you like to see for the not-for-profit sector?

There is a huge amount of humility in the sector, which won’t be a surprise when you think of the dedicated individuals who work in service to their causes. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think shouting a little more about the work we do and its impact is needed. We are in a challenging period of time with a cost of living crisis and budgets being tightened, and there are areas of society that will absolutely depend on the work happening in the not-for-profit sector. But doing good is no longer just something that happens in charities – lots of businesses are branching out into the social responsibility space, and so for charities to be bold and vocal to talk about the amazing work they do is going to be a necessity to continue to drive the change that is needed.

If you could share one piece of professional advice for fundraisers, what would it be?

I would say network as much as you possibly can and find your tribe. Fundraising can be a tough and lonely path but finding a group of peers that understand the peaks and troughs of the trade can be a real support. Fundraising is one of the best jobs in the world and fundraisers are a wonderful bunch of people, driven by passions and their desire to create a better world. Connecting with likeminded people is a sure-fire way to drive that change further and share knowledge, best practice and ideas to keep fundraising evolving.

Outside of your work at AskRIGHT, what are your passions and hobbies?

Yoga and wellness is a huge area for me and I’m so lucky to be able to teach yoga alongside my work for AskRIGHT. It may seem like an odd fit but I think fundraising and leadership ask a lot of our energy reserves and yoga helps to bring balance back in, so they end up feeling very complimentary.

I love writing and after years of playing around with it as a hobby and writing a regular yoga blog, in the past couple of years I’ve been applying myself to it more seriously and working on a novel. The process of creating and editing is incredibly satisfying and even if the only person who reads it is my mum (thanks mum!), it’s been quite an achievement to complete something of that size.

Other than that, being outside in nature. Since moving to New Zealand, I have pinch myself moments about how beautiful it is and how close I live to the sea. A chilly ocean dip on the first day of winter definitely let me know that I’m a summer swim girl though!

If you’d like to chat about fundraising or coaching in your organisation, and how the AskRIGHT team can help, we’d love to talk – email [email protected] to set up a free 30-minute chat.