This weeks LDNER is Emma Cullingford, head of food related fundraising for global charity Action Against Hunger. Emma leads a very hectic lifestyle and is very passionate about fundraising, making her an inspiration to us all.
Where do you live in London and why?
I live in New Cross. Mainly because it means I have the easiest commute in London as I can walk to work (our office is in Greenwich). Also because I’m a big fan of South East London, it’s like a small community in the big city as lots of my friends are close by. When I first moved to London nearly 14 years ago I would never have imagined living in this neck of the woods but now I can’t ever imagine leaving it. I love how anyone south of the river is fiercely proud of this part of London and I’m no different.
We know you work for Action Against Hunger but tell us more about what you do on a daily basis?
I oversee what our lovely chef and restaurant supporters do for Action Against Hunger for everything from fundraising, communications to advocacy. I’m responsible for business development from this industry and coming up with new ideas ensuring our fundraising grows every year. Luckily for me the restaurant industry has been supporting the charity for 18 years and we have lots of incredibly generous supporters which makes my job much easier! I think chefs are passionate about supporting us because of the connection between the fantastic restaurant culture we enjoy here in the UK and the life-saving work Action Against Hunger does around the world.
I spend around 50% of my time at my desk in Greenwich and the other 50% out and about in restaurants (it’s a hard life but someone has to do it!) My job is definitely not confined to Monday to Friday 9-5 with so many industry events to attend. I’m lucky that I love what I do as it definitely blurs the line between work and socialising. No two days are the same – I could be in the office strategizing, out in restaurants filming our chefs for a promotional video, helping set up one of our events or presenting about our work to staff in restaurants. The industry is always on social media and so that’s where you’ll find me a lot of the time.
We’ve been to some of your events, what’s the best one you’ve done?
For me it was the second year of Auction Against Hunger when it moved to Streetfeast at Dalston Yard in 2014. It was the first time we’d offered something different than a sit down dinner in a restaurant and was the largest capacity we’d ever had. It was an incredibly exciting time to see tickets sell out so quickly and the whole restaurant industry really got behind the event. Dalston Yard is pretty much all in the open air and during set up on the day the heavens opened and the whole place flooded temporarily, there was a moment when we weren’t even sure the event would go ahead but luckily it was a short spell and the show went on, in the sun and went on to be a very successful night. Now, two years on it’s our most popular event and the one everyone talks about, we moved to a new Streetfeast site and it raised more than double the amount from the previous year. I can’t wait to see where we take the event next year!
What tips would you have for someone planning a charity fundraiser?
It really helps if you’re passionate about what you’re fundraising for, that way people can relate to why you’re doing it and it makes others want to get involved too. Communicating the story is key – people often only respond to your posts about the event you’re fundraising for after seeing it several times. So the best way is to think of creative and different ways to constantly communicate about it. Be tenacious and proactive with it, thrown in with some good planning and knowing your target audience –and you’ll be onto a winner. Also make sure you thank people! Show your gratitude publicly and more people are likely to want to get involved.
What’s in the pipeline for Action Against Hunger? Anything for us to get excited about?
We have lots of events coming up later this year; from Too Many Chefs organised by Neil Rankin and Nick Gibson at The Drapers Arms to the Hawksmoor Dinner and Global Gastronomy. But the biggest activity coming up is our annual flagship campaign Love Food Give Food. Every year throughout September and October, hundreds of chefs & restaurants across the UK including Angela Hartnett, Hawksmoor, Pho and MEATliquor raise funds by adding a discretionary £1 donation to each table bill or making a small donation from a popular dish. It’s a great way for restaurants and customers alike to come together to raise funds and awareness for our life-saving work around the world to provide malnourished children with healthier futures. You can check out our directory to see where you can eat at a participating restaurant:here.