Five minutes with… Kylie Kidd MFIA

Kylie zooms into new role at Diabetes Victoria 

Kylie Kidd took on a new fundraising job at Diabetes Victoria just as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit Melbourne. But even though she has yet to go to the office, she’s enjoying her new colleagues and role thanks to the seamless way the organisation runs. And speaking of seamless, she even found a new hobby to cope with the long nights during curfew: knitting! 

You got a friend in me: Kylie enjoyed spending more time with her dog Woody during the second lockdown in Melbourne. 

You have a degree in international relations and spent a year studying Eastern European politics in the Czech Republic. You also have a law degree. How has all of this prepared you for a career in fundraising? 

I studied international relations straight after high school, as I had a keen interest in politics growing up and watching my family struggle due to the conflict in the Balkans in the 90s. I had an idealistic view that I would join the UN and become a humanitarian worker. But as I began my final year of the degree, I realised that was a terrible career choice for me – I don’t even like to go camping, so I certainly wasn’t going to be comfortable in a humanitarian situation! 

Luckily, I had the opportunity to study and travel throughout Europe. I realised that I could continue to make a difference without being ‘on the ground.’ 

Unsure of what to do, but feeling like I should study something, I studied law part-time while working in the fundraising department at Save the Children. Over that time, I worked with some amazing fundraisers who made me passionate about the field, and I haven’t looked back. 

Studying law has enabled me to understand and negotiate contracts confidently, given me a detailed knowledge of succession law for wills and estates, and helped me to ensure compliance with the various charity laws and regulations across Australia.  

But more importantly, studying law required me to learn to solve problems, ask questions, think critically, communicate with people from all walks of life, work collaboratively, and to break down complex information and concepts into simple and succinct language. 

You’ve worked for a variety of charities since 2008, ranging from humanitarian to health organisations. Career highlights? 

My career highlights have all been times that I’ve been able to share special moments with supporters who have made a life-changing impact for the cause they care deeply about. These include: 

  • going on donor visits with supporters to see the outcome and impact of the program they have supported 
  • celebrating with fundraisers who have organised and hosted successful events 
  • meeting inspiring donors who are passionate about their cause and eager to make a difference to the lives of others. 

You joined Diabetes Victoria in June as their manager, planned and major giving. What does the job involve? What’s it like starting a new role during the pandemic? 

I joined Diabetes Victoria in late June, after a fantastic two and a half years with Red Nose as their fundraising and philanthropy manager. While I enjoyed my time at Red Nose, the role at Diabetes Victoria offered me the opportunity to focus more on my passion for philanthropy and bequests, and help those who are affected by, or at risk of, diabetes. 

As the manager, planned and major giving, I’m responsible for the initiation, growth and stewardship of major and planned giving supporters at Diabetes Victoria.  

I have several friends and family members who are impacted by diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, so I’m grateful to be able to work for this leading organisation that supports, empowers and campaigns for all Victorians affected by, or at risk of, diabetes. 

I joined the organisation in the week that the Victorian Government announced the reintroduction of restrictions, at the start of what would become the ‘second wave.’ 

It was a strange way to start a new role, but everyone at Diabetes Victoria has been so wonderful in welcoming me to the organisation and helping me to settle in.  

Initially, I was nervous about taking on a new role during the pandemic. But the professionalism and seamlessness of Diabetes Victoria’s recruitment and onboarding process were reassuring, and after I met with the team and heard their plan and vision for the next few years, it gave me great confidence in the organisation I was joining. 

Do you find it hard at first to talk to people about gifts in Wills? How do you approach the topic?   

In my experience, once you know that someone is open to discussing leaving a gift in their Will, they’re quite pragmatic about conversations regarding their final wishes.  

I’ve met some supporters who’ve lived incredible lives, and they’re so happy to share the reasons why they were inspired to leave a gift to the organisation or tell you how they first became involved with the cause. 

It’s also great to talk to supporters about what they would like their gift to achieve and hear about the future they’d like for the next generation.  

These discussions are very inspiring and allow you to learn so much about your supporters.  

You can then tell them about your organisation’s vision and direction for the future, and how their generosity can help make a lasting impact. 

Looking at the fundraising sector more broadly, what do you think is the most challenging issue the sector is facing right now?  

I think there’s still some uncertainty about what ‘COVID-normal’ will mean for supporter events, fundraisers and face-to-face donor stewardship, and when, or if, we will be able to resume normal activities. The next 12 months will be a challenging but exciting time for our sector, and I’m eager to see how activities and events will evolve long term. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?  

During the lockdown, I taught myself to knit and have started knitting Christmas decorations. Christmas is my favourite time of the year, and this new hobby has given me something to look forward to during what has been a bleak year. 

Knitting has also helped me to disconnect from my phone, emails and social media, particularly in the evenings, which has been a great way to maintain positivity and unwind. 

Since lockdown, I’ve also started going on walks with my dog Woody and exploring some of the trails near my home along the Maribyrnong River.