Meet the Team: Fundraising Officer

25th May 2015

Here’s the fourth in our series of posts where you can meet the Freshwater Habitats Trust team.  Bia is a relative newcomer to the Trust, but a vital part of what we do.

Tell me your name…DSC03526 (2)

Beatriz (Bia) Guimarães

And your job title?

Fundraising Officer

What does that involve?

It involves raising funds for Freshwater Habitats Trust from all sorts of different groups.  It could be companies, trusts, or individuals. It involves making sure we have a good fundraising strategy,  writing proposals and getting them out in time, and having good materials that explain what we do and why freshwater wildlife needs help. Really, it means engaging with people to discuss our shared concerns, our efforts for a common cause.

What’s so important about that?

Without any funds we would have to stop working. That is the bottom line.  We wouldn’t be able to exist and do our work. There would be no projects protecting freshwater biodiversity, no research into freshwater ecosystems, no speaking out about the threats to our freshwater wildlife.

What is your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part is engaging with people, sending out proposals, explaining them, answering queries.  And then of course it’s great when we get a grant offer or a donation, and I can say thank you. Since we are a small organisation, I work on all aspects of fundraising, not just trusts or corporate work – that’s exciting but also daunting.

And least favourite?

Chasing proposals or reports from colleagues –because they are so busy with all the work they do.  But we have to respect donor deadlines. Timeliness is very important. There is so much competition for funding. We all have to keep fundraising on our radar because without it everything else would grind to a halt.

Why do you do it?  What do you get out of it, and what keeps you going through the hard days?

For me it is to know that I am contributing to something that is important – it is important to everyone and for ever more. In some small way I am contributing to the conservation of nature for me, my children, and for future generations. I couldn’t fundraise for something I didn’t care about. There is a real need and I can help.  I’m not from a conservation background – my background is humanitarian work – so I am learning new things every day, its exciting to be working in a new field after so many years working in fundraising.

What does freshwater wildlife mean to you?

To me, freshwater wildlife brings back lots of lovely memories of growing up in Brazil and enjoying the rivers and waterfalls, the sheer abundance of it, as if it could never end!

What’s your favourite freshwater habitat?

A waterfall near my grandmother’s cottage in Rio, Brazil. It fed into a stream that wound down the hill. I would sit on a banana leaf and slide down the rocks –a safety hazard no doubt, but so much fun!

What got you interested in freshwater habitats?

I grew up in Brazil, where water was very abundant. Many years later, I worked for Oxfam in Senegal, where it hardly rains at all (I worked as a fundraiser in West Africa for 7 years, mostly to support people affected by the severe droughts and subsequent food crises). In Senegal, I was struck by how hard it is to live in a very arid landscape, where nature is depleted and, for people and wildlife, it’s very difficult. When I brought my kids back to live in the UK, I was so grateful for all the water that is around. Learning that all is not as perfect as it seems was eye-opening – the idea of losing our water security and freshwater wildlife here in the UK is heart-breaking.