Catholic Fundraising Group Conference – A Volunteer’s Perspective – 15th – 16th March 2022, Cornerstone, Cardiff.

Let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Simran Kaur Sandhu, I am an overseas student at Cardiff Metropolitan University pursuing my Master’s in English Literature and Creative Writing. I am Volunteer writer for Archdiocese of Cardiff, and it is my first and extremely important step to kickstart my writing career. It is a great opportunity for me to improve my writing and interpersonal skills and gain experience of working in a professional setting.

The fundraising conference hosted this year by the Archdiocese of Cardiff is an annual event bringing together fundraising professionals, development teams and supporters from diocese across Wales, England & beyond. The two days featured guest speakers on a wide variety of thought-provoking topics and initiatives.

As a child, I was always curious about my father’s official conversations with his colleagues or our family members. I was particularly fascinated by the word ‘agenda’. The formal meaning of this term is ‘a list or outline of things to be considered or done’. However, to me, the word ‘agenda’ had a different meaning. According to my childish understanding, ‘agenda’ meant ‘a mission’; something to be accomplished or improve. As I grew up the meaning of this word morphed into a mundane to do list.

Recently, I was reminded of the meaning I associated with this word. I was invited to attend my first ever conference, Catholic Fundraising Group Conference, as a volunteer writer for the Archdiocese of Cardiff on 15 th March 2022. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. The conference took place at Cornerstone conference centre opposite the Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St. David. The hall was bustling with the chatter of numerous talented individuals. People sitting in groups discussing the Cardiff weather along with technological glitches occurring in their presentation. I even got the opportunity to speak to a few people. In the beginning I was intimidated by the professional environment but thanks to Owen Collins the development manager and Gareth Simpson the volunteer manager of Archdiocese of Cardiff I quickly got comfortable with my surroundings.

The conference began with a welcome speech from Owen Collins who mentioned the reasons why we needed to come up with different methods to raise funds for our Church and also expressed his gratitude towards the sponsors of this conference: Dona and Heritage Fund – Cronfa Dreftadaeth. It was a definite eye opener for me as experts from various organisations took the stage to share useful resources for fundraising. They gave their presentations and at the end would answer questions raised by the audience. The interactive nature of this conference is what pleased me the most. It kept me engaged and taught me how I could also contribute to the church in my own little way.

I learnt how social media can prove helpful in bringing people to the church. Through platforms like Instagram and TikTok, we can create and tell stories about the church, it’s architecture and history in order to develop people’s interest. It is the advice that stuck to me because as a young adult I felt there is not much that I can do. But just using my phone and creating compelling videos could possibly bring people to the peace they have been seeking. Other methods that I found highly useful in my own studies are one-off or weekly workshops that could be based on anything! From learning a new skill to bringing each other emotional support, there are a lot of group activities that could bring people together and help the church as well. Second, is collaborating with other parishes. Learning and taking inspiration from other parishes is a good way of keeping things fresh and creative. There were times when the conference got more statistical for me to grasp the concept but all-in-all it was an insightful first conference and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

Simran Sandhu, Volunteer Creative Writer

To find out more about volunteering opportunities at the Archdiocese of Cardiff or to create one, please contact Gareth Simpson, Volunteer & Project Manager, gareth.simpson@rcadc.org