Volunteering at the Lab

Our Fundraising Volunteer Callum Bray writes about his time volunteering at the Lab.

My role as the Fundraising Volunteer at the Lab began when I stumbled across the opportunity on Twitter. I was not familiar with the Lab before finding the role, but the name immediately struck a chord with me. I’ve long been fascinated with, and passionate about, the role finance can play in supporting social and economic change. During my Masters I’d written my thesis on the development and impact of digital financial markets in China, and was keen to find an application for the knowledge I’d developed. What’s more, I was keen to learn about work in the charity sector. So I jumped at the chance to work with the Lab.

As Fundraising Volunteer, my primary role has been supporting the Lab’s fundraising efforts. I’ve worked with the team to identify new potential funding organisations that might want to support us, and to develop funding bids to secure grants. I’ve learnt how to pitch for funding, how to dig in to what grant-giving organisations are looking for from an application, and have helped to develop a more streamlined process for identifying the fit of potential funders. This is a great set of skills to have been able to develop for my future career.

What’s more, fundraising has been a great way to get exposure to the new economy and financial innovation ecosystems. I’ve been able to explore the range of organisations that are being funded in the new economy movement – and I’ve come across so many inspiring charities that I didn’t know about before. What’s more, the Lab plays a connecting role within these networks, meaning we’re well positioned to understand the whole range of work going on this space.

There’s a huge range of events to attend and get involved with, and the team have been more than happy to link me up with people in other areas of the new economy and financial innovation movement. This can range from individuals and organisations working on the frontline of socially useful financial innovation, to think tanks and economic reform campaigning groups that are transforming the policies and regulations that shape and govern the system.

This opportunity has also given me a chance to learn about how charities work. In my day job I work in a large public sector body – quite different from the experience of a small charity. It’s been really exciting to get exposure to how dynamic small and mission-oriented organisations can be, and the impact a committed team can make. I now have a deep appreciation for the work of small charities.

Finally, what really makes a volunteering role tick is the people you’re working with, and the Lab has a great team. Before COVID-19, it was fun to occasionally join them in the office, and since the advent of social distancing we’ve continued to connect through socials on Zoom.  The team are really supportive – if there’s anything they can do for you, they will.

If you’re looking to explore financial innovation, the new economy movement and what a systems change organisation looks like, the Lab is a great place to start – I’d really recommend getting involved.

To get involved with the Lab, sign up to the Lab community here. Keep an eye out for future volunteering and job opportunities here.