www.theagif.org - TheAgif.org Directory
Posted on 11/19/2021 in Education

Getting to know: Hayley Pannick, Director of Development, Imperial Health Charity

By Tracey Citron
23 September 2021
Now that we’re settling into life during a pandemic, the surreal nature of the first UK lockdown seems like the stuff of history books. Yet it wasn’t that long ago that the Imperial Health Charity (IHC) found itself going into all hands-on-deck mode pretty much overnight.
“We were watching and waiting,” says Hayley Pannick, Director of Development, “Iooking at Italy with that feeling of ‘is that coming over here?’”
Working in partnership with the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, the IHC helps fund major redevelopments, research and medical equipment at five London hospitals: Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and the Western Eye. Just to clarify, (Hayley had to for me too), because the NHS (the UK’s National Health System) is government run, it’s impossible to make donations to these hospitals directly—cue the IHC and NHS charities. 
Once the storm hit, Hayley and the team at IHC had to act fast. She needed to come up with effective solutions to replace in-person events with virtual ones; organise volunteers—many of her 500 regulars were shielding due to age, which meant recruiting new ones during a pandemic—and update the IHC’s website to ensure donating online was as easy as possible. “To say it wasn’t particularly user friendly is probably a polite way of putting it,” she admits. 
But first she had to deal with a situation not usually in her remit: feeding the doctors, nurses and staff working across her hospitals. One of the hospitals had no staff canteen and all food outlets were shut. “It seems like such a simple thing, but if you’re there from morning till night and you can’t eat a meal all day how can you function?”
So how do you feed 14,000 staff at the drop of a hat? “Six degrees of separation,” she tells me, “I mentioned this emergency during a telephone call with a long-standing supporter who wanted to help. She put me in contact with a friend, who put me in contact with a friend and so on, until I found myself speaking with Stephen Goldstein EVP at Deliveroo UK who offered to organise food delivery.
“Then one of the hospital’s consultants introduced me to the actors Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory (who has sadly passed away since) who had teamed up with the comedian Mat Lucas and Jon Vincent, CEO of the food chain Leon, to raise money to feed the NHS. You may remember the song Thank You Baked Potato. They raised a staggering £1.5M.” 
Within 48 hours she had access to food and food delivery. Next, she needed to get the food to staff working on the wards. Donned in their PPE gear, doctors and nurses couldn’t just wander off for a quick bite. Food had to be brought to them.
“Incredibly, (who volunteers to work in a hospital during a pandemic?), over 250 people signed up. It was these volunteers who were taking these precious meals and shipping them all around these huge buildings, getting them to the staff that really needed them so that they could continue their life saving work. Frankly, the funds people created, the time they gave to work in our hospitals, and the outpouring of support was genuinely heart-warming.
 “We were fortunate,” she continues, “because we’re an NHS charity that focuses on hospitals, and the spotlight, in terms of charitable giving, was very much on supporting NHS charities particularly in the first lockdown.” 
Not surprisingly, it was the charity’s strongest year ever for fundraising albeit the most stressful. Once she could rest assured that staff were being fed, she needed a new game plan for fundraising and she needed it fast.
During the pandemic mass participation fundraising had shut down. Events like the London Marathon and community fundraisers such as tea parties, bake sales and pub quizzes, which add up to big sums of money across the sector, and which charities relied on, ceased to take place. So what replaced them?
“Our annual event “Walk for Wards”, where we have hundreds of people getting together in Regent’s Park raising funds dressed in scrubs became a virtual “Walks for Wards” held in 2021. We had to invest in a new digital platform so that people could participate. We also launched virtual gaming called Level Up for the NHS, which was driven by our own supporters. We’ve had people doing virtual baking, running virtual marathons in their own back gardens, kids running laps around their block. People wanted to do something, to get involved. Some had remembered the wonderful care they’d received at our hospitals—maybe they’d had their baby there twenty years ago or their mum had been cared for—they remembered this. Covid was the thing that made them want to give back.”
Like everyone I’ve interviewed, it was a case of welcome to the digital-first era if you wanted your business to survive but like many it wasn’t necessarily a smooth transition. “Going virtual was a steep learning curve if I’m honest, some stuff worked and some didn’t. It’s not only about how to raise funds during a pandemic it's also about relationship building. The last thing your donors want is a tour of your hospital in the middle of covid-19. Instead, we've run some wonderful talks with clinicians and virtual Q&A events in which people were able to talk with the chief executive of the Trust and to hear about what life has been like in these really busy hospitals. It’s actually given people more access to us, and us access to more people.”
However, not all procedures are benefiting from going virtual. In Hayley’s opinion, nothing beats an in-person interview. In fact, she was looking for a philanthropic manager to join her team when we spoke. “It’s almost a magical quality that you’re looking for in people. You have to meet people to see if they have that quality. They’ve got to make you think, ‘if there’s someone walking in the door, are they going to engage with you as a fundraiser?’ There’s this old thought in charity that ‘people give to people’ so you’ve got to have great confidence in the person that’s going to represent you.”
Currently, recruitment in the UK charity sector is going through big changes “to ensure a richness in diversity and support people from all walks of life who wish to participate in the sector”. She mentions the hashtag #charitysowhite—I hadn’t heard of it—and adds that there are too many barriers to get into it. One barrier is the requirement of a university degree.
 “This is the first time we’ve gotten rid of the requirement to have a university degree,” she tells me referring to the job posting for the philanthropic manger. “You don’t have to have a degree or any particular type of training to excel in the charity sector. So much of it is on the ground training and experience and you need to give people those opportunities. Also, a lot of it is about aptitude and attitude, learning from your experiences and relationship building, which is very hard to get from your education.” 
She pauses before adding, “there’s divergence in thinking here because in the UK, The Institute of Fundraising has just become the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. Part of this is the professionalisation of fundraising, and part is giving a sense of meaning to some of the qualifications that you can do if you wish to, but it’s not a necessity to do them.” 
Hayley’s own career path followed the more traditional trajectory. She graduated from Manchester University in 2002, joined EY’s graduate programme in 2003 and was a qualified chartered accountant by the time she began her first NGO job at The Prince’s Trust in 2008. “I took a lot of good things from that—how to behave in a professional environment—but equally, I learnt huge amounts from the different charities I worked with about how to build relationships. I regret nothing about the career path I’ve taken but it’s not the path that everyone needs to take.”
She continues to study and was excited to tell me about upcoming courses she’ll take at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore later this year. I wondered how she finds the time and whether things ever get on top of her. Her job isn’t stressful she says, it keeps her on her toes, although the first lockdown was challenging.
“The first lockdown was intense, trying to juggle a huge amount of fundraising work while supporting the logistics of this fast moving food appeal. But I was fortunate, I work with a great team of people, it was a real bonding experience. I’ve got a husband who’s a hospital doctor who was working on covid wards, I’ve got two young kids who I was home schooling very, very badly. It was this perfect storm of all these things, but we were all living these weird, stressful lives. I’m no special case in any of it, but that was particularly intense. That intensity has now calmed which I’m grateful for.” 
The doorbell rings. She checks the time. It’s her son returning from school. We’ve been chatting for nearly an hour and a half, but she’s happy to keep going, adding with a laugh, “I never get to talk about myself!” Her devotion to her work and her gratitude towards her team and colleagues has shone through with every aspect we’ve covered. Her enthusiasm for life, in whatever form it takes, is expressed in the up-beat way she speaks, as if she’s recounting something she’s excited to share with me. 
A few minutes later we’re interrupted again. A little voice asks, “Mummy, would you like a cup of tea?” 
“Wow,” she says all agog, “that’s the first time he’s ever asked me that!”

About the Author: Born and bred in Dublin Ireland, Tracey spent over two decades working in art galleries and institutions in London and New York and collaborated regularly with art detective Charles Hill on recovering stolen masterpieces from public and private art collections. In 2020 she decided to take off her art world cap, packed her bags and moved to Milan, Italy, where she works as an English teacher, translator and writer.