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A Day in the life at the Racing Foundation

19 August 2015

 

The Racing Foundation
I am currently working as grants manager at the Racing Foundation, a grant-making organisation, set up in January 2012 to oversee the distribution of funds to charitable causes within racing following the sale of the Tote. The BHA, the Horsemen’s Group and the Racecourse Association are the three joint members of the foundation, which is registered with the Charity Commission (no.1145297). Since its inception, the Racing Foundation has granted £3 million to charities associated with the horseracing and thoroughbred breeding industry in Britain, supporting work in social welfare, education, training and participation, horse welfare, equine science research, and heritage & culture. Following receipt of the final payment of Tote sale proceeds in 2014, the foundation was able to expand its grant-making activity, adopt a more pro-active funding strategy and focus on some of the key challenges facing the racing industry. It is now able to award grants totalling £2m a year. 

How did you get involved in this role?
I worked for six years at a charity in Cambridge organising events and raising money for Addenbrooke’s Hospital. While fundraising for specialist medical units was undeniably rewarding and provided a great deal of job satisfaction, my passion in life was deeply rooted in the equestrian sector, in particular, horseracing. Having no work experience, background or family connection in racing I decided to learn more about the industry to see where my particular skill-set might fit in. I attended the BHA Overview of Racing seminar and the Racing Secretaries course at the British Racing School in Newmarket and learned that racing offers a very wide range of career and training opportunities in a variety of associated roles. I was then lucky to get a job at Racing Welfare, the charity that provides support for stud and stable staff, as a fundraiser focused primarily on obtaining grants from trusts and foundations. With experience in other aspects of fundraising I progressed, after four years, to the role of head of fundraising, responsible for managing a small team and having greater input into the fundraising strategy to ensure we raised £1m a year. Part of my role as trust fundraiser meant I came into contact with the newly formed Racing Foundation. After receiving final Tote sale proceeds it was able to expand its grant making activities and advertised for a grants manager to help deliver an enhanced funding programme.

What attracted you to the job?
Racing is more than a job to me, it is also a passion and while I greatly enjoyed working at Racing Welfare, which is a thoroughly worthy charity, I was attracted to the new role at the Racing Foundation as it would enable me to broaden my knowledge of racing charities in general and give me the opportunity to become involved with a wider range of charitable activities. Racing is more than a job to me, it is also a passion and while I greatly enjoyed working at Racing Welfare, which is a thoroughly worthy charity, I was attracted to the new role at the Racing Foundation as it would enable me to broaden my knowledge of racing charities in general and give me the opportunity to become involved with a wider range of charitable activities.

What is a typical day like for you?
As part of a small team of two people my role is incredibly varied and also includes an inevitable amount of administration and travel. I am primarily responsible for managing a range of grant programmes, analysing grant applications, researching the work of charities, monitoring the progress of projects we have funded, maintaining relationships with charities we supportand building new relationships with others. I prepare papers and reports for our trustees and as the foundation is a very hands-on grant-maker I am able to visit charities, see their work first hand and explain how the foundation might be able to provide support. I am also responsible for communications and raising awareness about the foundation as it is still a very new organisation.This means I produce press releases, work with the media, maintain our website, produce a monthly e-newsletter and manage our social media channels. Indeed we are one of only a handful of grant-making trusts to be on Twitter.

What is your favourite part of the job?
The best part of my job is getting to see, first-hand, the difference Racing Foundation funding is making to individual charities, their beneficiaries and also to the racing industry as a whole. It is very rewarding to visit a charity to see projects in action and how they are impacting on the lives of others. It is particularly rewarding for me to see projects that I have been involved with from the beginning – to see how ideas outlined in grant applications have come to fruition and to see the results.

Which part of your job would you like to change?
I would really like to be more effective at raising awareness of the Racing Foundation and the charities it supports. Many people within racing are still not aware of what we do, how we operate or what grants we have awarded. The foundation was set up with Tote sale proceeds and I think it is very important for the industry to know how funds are being used.

What is the career progression for someone in your role?
The racing industry has, so far, provided me with great opportunities for career progress within my field. The next logical step would be to gain experience and qualifications in governance, strategy, and charity finance to eventually be able to pursue a role as chief executive of a charity or grant-making organisation. There are also other possibilities, such as becoming a fundraising consultant, but I am greatly enjoying my current role and look forward to developing it over the coming years.

What advice would yougive to someone thinking of taking a similar role?
For anyone interested in working for a charity a good way to start, in the absence of suitable job availability, is to become a volunteer. This provides a great insight into the work of charities, a better understanding of the various roles and is a good way to show interest in, and be considered for, any jobs that might subsequently become available.

racingfoundation.co.uk

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