Conversation with Simona Biancu

In this month’s community spotlight, we spoke to Simona Biancu, member of the ELF Council. Simona is a senior fundraising consultant and asthma patient. Simona hosted ELF’s first-ever EPAP (European Patient Ambassador Programme) Live event focusing on fundraising in event in December 2022.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background

I am a consultant and trainer on philanthropic and board development for civil society organisations (CSO)s, working both in Italy – where I live – and abroad.

I met what has become my profession about 16 years ago – literally by chance – and, since then, it has been the ideal mix between a job and a genuine interest. I am truly passionate about social, cultural and environmental causes, and working in this field gives me the opportunity to meet and talk with equally passionate people that think and manage how to shape a better world. It’s energising.

Basically, I am a curious person with many interests: sport, books, theatre and art in general, travel – I really love exploring places walking, it’s a different, slow way to experience change.

And, last but not least, I am an asthma patient: during the year I learnt how to manage my asthma and swimming really helped me a lot to do that. Raising awareness on air quality is among my main interests as a patient.

Why did you decide to join the ELF Council?

I met ELF a few years ago. It was 2019, and I found a professional, committed organisation that has a special role dealing with respiratory health issues. I like the approach based on sharing information, raising awareness on these issues from a broad perspective – not just in terms of patients’ ones, but as something that everyone should take care of.

I was honoured, then, when I was asked to apply as a Council member. I consider this role as a way to serve the cause of respiratory health, approaching issues from different sides – as a patient and a professional in the field of development.

After 3 years, and considering the pandemic and its aftermaths, I must say that ELF is more than necessary to merge different positions – patients, institutions, companies, just to mention a few of them – and support the scientific research on lung health developed by ERS. It’s an original yet effective scheme that I see as something powerful according to the complex era we are living in.

How can EPAP Live events, such as the one on fundraising December 2022, benefit individuals and organisations?

From my perspective, there are 3 steps that make something achievable: information, awareness and engagement. It’s a 3-way inclusive path that generates engagement through knowledge, making everyone capable to access information.

Online events like the one in December are useful opportunities to share information, raise awareness and, most importantly, create a community of people interested in the same issues. Relationships are the most powerful way to encourage and accompany change.

I think that a permanent programme made of online events, even focused on different themes and also, for example, aimed at providing information, can be an interesting way to support both individuals and organisations to spread the word about certain issues.

What do you hope ELF can achieve in 2023?

My main hope is that the issues concerning climate change and the right for everyone to have a good quality of life – in terms of access to opportunities like sports, healthy food, clean air, screening programmes – will become mainstream issues across Europe. And I mean from a practical point of view, not just formal statements.

I think that ELF can play a crucial role in advancing these issues and creating a strong movement of people around them.

What advice would you give to anyone wishing to fundraise this year?

I would encourage everyone to consider fundraising as a fantastic way to create and strengthen relationships around a cause, something they are passionate about.

I usually say that fundraising is a question of relationships and interest towards a cause capable to generate support – and income, of course.

My suggestions, then, is: be creative and have fun to engage people, taking the opportunities to meet and talk to people as ways to discuss, support and share…before asking!