Staff Profile: Hilary Edridge (Head of Major Campaigns)

Hilary Edridge, Head of Major Campaigns

Why and when did you first become interested in philanthropy/fundraising?

My interest began as a small child, appearing in amateur shows/ performances, washing cars and running races to raise funds for those less fortunate than ourselves. My brother and I were always taught to play our part and make the world a better place.

Throughout my previous career in the NHS, working for a global advertising agency and then academia, I have spent many hours seeking funding for different projects so finding myself working as a fundraiser in a professional and voluntary capacity was no surprise.

How have you developed that interest at Kent?

I joined the Development Office in 2009 and led the Kent Law Campaign, which built the £5 million Wigoder Law Building, a new home for the Kent Law Clinic and the Law School’s Mooting Programme using the impressive Kennedy Wong Moot Court.

As an extrovert and a passionate change-maker, I have always been serious about solving challenges and inequalities. I hope that I am still doing this today by raising funds for the Kent and Medway Medical School, which is a project I care about passionately.

What does your new role as Head of Major Campaigns involve?

I currently lead Kent’s work, through a cross-institutional fundraising campaign with Canterbury Christ Church University, to engage alumni and supporters with the new Kent and Medway Medical School. The key to this has been establishing and working with a Campaign Board of influential individuals in the county, who are invaluable in supporting our fundraising campaign.

My new role means that I will play a leading part in shaping the University’s future major campaign activity. This includes an ambitious campaign ‘A World of Opportunity’, to grow an integrated fundraising programme and increase volunteering hours to help deliver Kent’s long-term strategy.

What are your future career aspirations?

I want to see Kent become a high performing fundraising university, with a regional and global community of ambassadors, volunteers and donors supporting us to deliver our biggest long-term ambitions. The first part of this will be the successful completion of the £30 million campaign for the Kent and Medway Medical School, which will see the School open and the region benefit from better healthcare provision.

Philanthropy changes lives for both those that give and those that receive. Just knowing that I may have played a small part in facilitating that connection fills my heart.

How has Covid-19 affected your immediate/short-term planning?

During Covid-19, the Kent and Medway Medical School ‘case for support’ for more doctors in the region has never been more important. We are continuing to see huge generosity, and are able to demonstrate the positive impact philanthropic support can make. We are very clear about the contribution the medical school will make to society, not only now but post Covid-19. For Kent and Medway, the Medical School is a game-changer.

Since lockdown, like many others, the fundraising team are working remotely, yet very successfully. Great fundraising is based on relationships encompassing engagement, connectivity and stewardship. From a practical point of view, we have found positive ways of connecting with our donors via video calls, emails and telephone. We have moved all our activities online and are continuing to develop creative ways of bringing people together. We are, however, mindful and sensitive to the fact that the economic situation is tough and will be for quite some time.

Outside work, and out of lockdown, what do you enjoy doing?

I am generally an outdoors person and enjoy sailing and a game of golf or tennis. I also enjoy the theatre, gardening, singing, playing the piano, and spending time with family and friends.

I am Chair of Porchlight, Kent’s largest charity for homeless and vulnerable people, which supports all those who have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. It is a huge privilege to be involved with this charity, which raises £1 million of its £12 million annual budget through charitable giving. We have had a lot to grapple with through Covid-19 and we’re emerging stronger.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Don’t ever stop learning and growing as a person.”

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