Matthieu Dufour is an accomplished artist and a member of the British Red Cross’ in-house face-to-face fundraising team. This might seem an unusual combination, but he believes the professions complement each other: “Fundraising is all about people, and I’m a portraitist. By meeting all these people I increase my understanding of humanity.”
He explains: “The Red Cross, apart from giving physical relief after a disaster, also gives relief to the soul. My artwork is about human resilience. I am inspired by the Red Cross’ work in Haiti and other places. It’s extraordinary the spirit which comes out of crisis; my artwork is an homage to that.”
Dedicated to the cause
Ever since childhood, Matthieu has admired the Red Cross’ work. He says: “My great-uncle was involved with the Red Cross in Paris. When I was little he told me about it and I found it fascinating, so I’ve always had a soft spot.”
“I specifically chose the Red Cross because I like to feel a direct connection with the cause; it’s much more powerful that way.
“Another reason I’m working for the Red Cross is there are no barriers with countries, religions, people or politics. The neutrality and impartiality really appeals. You can talk to anyone and it makes sense.”
While Matthieu loves his job, it’s not for everyone. He warns: “You need to deal with a lot of rejection, without taking it personally. But for nine out of ten rejections, there is one person ready to love you.
“When you look at my team of fundraisers, they are extremely different people but they have one common trait: they are extremely open minded and able to talk to people on a personal level very quickly. They are also very energetic. It’s physically draining – I’ve lost a lot of weight since starting this job.”
Reaping the rewards
But despite its challenges, the work is rewarding. Matthieu says: “When you sign up a new person it’s a massive buzz. Also, if someone supports the Red Cross already, they will always come and tell you – they are happy to be donors."
Matthew’s favourite story is of an old lady he signed up. He says: “She told me: ‘I’m here because of the Red Cross helping my dad.’ Her dad was a prisoner during world war two and her mum had been able to send news and packages, which kept him sane. Her dad told her: ‘If you do one thing in life, support the Red Cross.’”