Personal development

My first year at DSC

DSC Researcher, Kalli Jayasuriya, reflects on her first year working for DSC.

Back in May 2023, I started working as a researcher for DSC’s amazing Research Team. As a recent(ish) graduate, this was to be my first time working in the charity sector. I will never look back. My first anniversary at DSC is fast approaching. The past year has offered me many highlights. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, so let’s go through my top five (in no particular order).

A helpful and comprehensive induction

Since the pandemic, DSC staff all work remotely. I felt daunted at the prospect of starting a new job online, especially because I knew that most of my colleagues would have had their inductions in-person prior to COVID-19. However, my colleagues adapted my induction so that it was as close as possible to an in-person one. A fellow member of the Research Team was appointed as my induction buddy. They acted as point of contact for any questions during my week-long induction and my first month. In my first week, I also had Teams meetings with all of DSC’s departments. I was able to get acquainted with everyone and learn about how their work contributes to DSC’s mission. Most importantly, the office threw me a virtual welcome party! My colleagues couldn’t have given me a warmer welcome.

Virtual staff away day

Around two weeks into my new role, the office virtually held what we call a ‘Staff Away Day’. This is an annual event that provides some respite by encouraging staff to have some fun instead of working for a day. 2023’s Staff Away Day involved a virtual picnic and even a virtual quiz! We were also fortunate enough to have Clare Moody from Equally Ours as a guest speaker. She gave us a very inspiring and engaging presentation about inclusive language. This year, our Staff Away Day is going to be held in-person, so I am very excited. Of course, seeing everyone on Teams is still lovely, but it will be even better to be in the same room as all my colleagues.

Helping to complete the 28th edition of the Directory of Grant-Making Trusts

My first project as part of the Research Team was contributing research for DSC’s flagship funding guide – the Directory of Grant-Making Trusts. This fundraising guide contains just over 2,000 grant-making trusts that have the capacity to award £50,000 or more in grants to organisations. It is one of Research’s biggest projects, so it requires all hands-on deck. Consequently, I received the relevant training during my first week so that I knew what to do and could start immediately. It was exciting to get involved in the production of a keystone DSC publication so early on. Seeing my name as one of the contributors is rewarding! It is even better to know that our work will save fundraisers time locating relevant and applicable funding sources.

From Here to Diversity Conference

A major perk my job brings is that I can attend DSC’s conferences for free. I took the opportunity to attend the From Here to Diversity conference back in September because it is important to participate in discussions about equality. It featured guest speakers such as Dr Sanjiv Lingayah, who is lead author of Home Truths, a key report into racism in the charity sector! Moreover, it was really well attended by a rich variety of charities, meaning that I got an insight into how these organisations are implementing EDI actions through our group conversations. As a newbie in the charity sector, interacting with representatives from other charities helped me understand more about how the sector works. The conference left me feeling optimistic and positive because it showed that there are countless individuals and organisations who are actively working towards creating a just and equal charity sector.

Leading the 13th edition of The Guide to New Trusts

My biggest responsibility so far has been being the lead author of the 13th edition of The Guide to New Trusts. This funding guide contains just over 100 newly registered grant-makers that give grants to organisations (and sometimes individuals) for a broad range of charitable purposes. I have enjoyed the investigative work of searching for newly registered grant-makers that meet our guide’s inclusion criteria. Adding new potential sources of funding to our database is important because it could help a fundraiser or charity develop a long-lasting rapport with a funder. Overall, I have found the process rewarding because I have acquired new knowledge and skills that I will continue to develop during my time working with DSC.

My first year at DSC has been filled to the brim with opportunities to learn and develop professionally. I have no doubt that DSC will continue to support my career progression in the charity sector. One day, I will look back at this article, almost like a time capsule, to see how much further I have developed. Here’s to many more years at DSC!