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Oxjam Interview Series Daniel Mackenzie

Posted by Anna Sigurdsson Oxjam Marketing Executive

16th Jan 2014

The Oxjam interview series is a celebration of our incredible volunteers from Gig Makers to Takeover Teams.  We'll soon be recruiting for Oxjam Takeover Managers, wonderfully dedicated volunteers who put on multi-venue Oxjam events, all in aid of Oxfam each October.  Find out what it's like to be an Oxjam Takeover Manager from Daniel Mackenzie who did some truly spectacular things in the role last year.

Oxjam Manchester Takeover Manager, Daniel Mackenzie

"I first heard about Oxjam when I went to a campaign meeting for the IF Campaign. In 2013, the IF  campaign - with the support of tens of thousands of people across the UK - called on governments to take action on global hunger.  I mentioned my experience in music promotion and an Oxfam representative suggested that I apply to become an Oxjam Takeover Manager. My degree was in Politics and International Relations and since graduating I've been looking to start a career in the charity and NGO sector. The Oxjam Takeover is a taster in all areas of the charity sector - campaigning, events management, sponsorship, project management, fundraising, and team work - so it was the perfect opportunity to gain experience as part of a worthwhile project.

Our team wanted to put on an event that would really put Manchester on the 'Oxjam map'. We looked at the scale of the bigger Oxjams in the country and saw the amounts they were raising, and immediately set them as the standard. In the end, the Oxjam Manchester Takeover 2013 took place over two days in 11 venues, and involved over 100 bands and artists contributing all kinds of music genres and forms of art. We hosted it in the Northern Quarter in Manchester, so all the venues were close together. This gave it a real festival 'buzz', and we had Oxjam volunteers on the street corners and in the marquee telling people what was going on.  Want to see for yourself?

Watch this video of the Oxjam Manchester Takeover 2013 

Putting together something like the Oxjam Takeover involves lots of different people - venues, artists, sponsors, and (crucially!) volunteers. Everyone has to believe that they're involved for a good reason. Oxjam has a nationwide reputation, so in some cases it was relatively easy to get people involved. Other times, they would stare blankly in your face. Our pitch was a music festival, run entirely by volunteers, that seeks to provide a platform for up-and-coming talent and raise money for development projects, political campaigning and disaster relief. It was overwhelming to see how many people wanted to actively support the work that Oxfam does, and how the charity's principles resonate with all members of the public; from businesses to bass players.

Juggling all of these stakeholders, promoting the event, drawing up event timetables and working a full-time job was a big challenge. There are two things that helped me keep everything together - personal organisation and team work. Simple things like setting reminders, replying to emails and texts straight away, and going to bed early became pivotal. But most importantly, the success of Oxjam relies on having a team of passionate and reliable people. The Oxjam Manchester team are the most creative and hardworking people I've ever worked with. We put together specific roles for people so that everyone's responsibilities were clearly outlined, and made sure we were aware of each other's timetables and capabilities. It was also essential to have good communication between everyone.

The competition for running music events in Manchester is very high. There are several urban music festivals throughout the year, and well-established promoters dominate the industry. Aside from the usual posters and flyers, we had to set ourselves apart from the crowd. We made sure our social media was regular and well targeted, and also made use of competitions to build a following. The marketing team organised a flash mob dance in Piccadilly Gardens, right in the middle of Manchester City Centre.

Watch the Flash Mob Dance 

The Oxjam Takeover has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. I've gained knowledge of what it's like to be responsible for a national brand and the commitments of my team mates; how to organise a long-term project; and how to put on an amazing music festival. I would definitely do Oxjam again. It encourages you to push yourself and throw yourself in at the deep-end for an amazing cause, and you meet the best kinds of people.

To sum it up in a three words... passion, co-operation, and creativity."

Blog post written by Anna Sigurdsson

Oxjam Marketing Executive

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