Buildings & bursaries: Development Director shares 2030 vision

Edd Pickering, UCS’s new Director of Development and Alumni Relations, says he is delighted to have joined a school with a distinguishing culture and ideology and explains his focus for fundraising under the banner of ‘Project 200’.

What’s in your in-tray as Director of Development and Alumni Relations?

My job is to raise money and raise money more strategically. The school’s bicentenary is coming up in 2030 and there’s so much we want to do to celebrate this. We know philanthropy is going to play a huge part in this. So we need to take this idea and work through the detail. We have the areas: capital developments at Frognal and an increase in funding for fee assistance. It is my job to work with our community to turn these ideas into reality.

What’s more, it’s really important too that when a donation is made to the school, we communicate the impact of that gift to the donor – because that money is potentially transformative for a young person in their life and in their family’s life.

What makes fundraising for UCS so appealing?

We believe, with good evidence, that UCS offers a fantastic educational experience and opportunity for young people, and we want to ensure this is more widely accessible. Importantly it’s not just a question of young people from different socio-economic backgrounds coming to the school; rather, the school is lucky to have them because diversity matters, diversity makes a difference. Our pupils are incredibly fortunate – a lot live in Hampstead, they go to a fantastic school – but the world they’ll go into, at university and beyond, is not like that. A more diverse student body makes for a richer experience and a better preparation for life.

Looking at the capital side of things, Frognal is a beautiful site, but as with almost everything in life, needs are constantly changing and developing and so we have to change to keep up and ahead of these needs. It is this pair of plans – for buildings and for bursaries – that we are dubbing ‘Project 200’. I am really excited to discuss more of these plans with Old Gowers, parents and the rest of our community.

What makes UCS an attractive place to come to work?

I really like the ethos of the school – it knows what it stands for. Every school or university says it is unique, but UCS’s liberal ethos does actually set it apart and that makes a clear difference. There is something tangible about the school. The parents and Old Gowers I have spoken to are incredibly supportive of what we’re trying to do, as are the entire staff body.

Moreover, Project 200 is a clear and easy thing to be inspired by and get passionate about. The timing of the campaign – we’re aiming for 2030 – makes it a really sensible time frame. We aren’t having to rush everything; nor are we drifting along. Seven years is the perfect time frame. There is so much we can do.

Tell us more about yourself – how did you come to UCS?

I have worked in educational fundraising my whole career. Most recently I spent nearly ten years at the University of Reading, heading up their fundraising operation. Obviously, there is a lot of breadth to university fundraising, but – forgive me for misquoting The Incredibles here – when everything is a priority, nothing is. When I saw the opportunity at UCS, there were a few things that really excited me, a few of which I’ve already mentioned, but the one that stands out is the clear focus on bursaries and the impact they make.

What are you most looking forward to?

The interesting bit of this job is meeting people and talking to them. So it’s that really. Everything else in my job is geared around enabling that!

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