PRIVATE FUNDRAISING - WHAT ARE WE LEARNING FROM OUR CATALYST PROJECT?

Recognising the urgent need for arts and cultural organisations to diversify their income streams, Create Gloucestershire is working with seven arts organisations across the county to strengthen expertise in and models of private giving.  Funded by Arts Council England’s Catalyst fund, this two-year project is now more than a quarter of the way through.  

At the heart of this project is the recognition that the creative mission must come first.  As Pippa Jones, Development Director at Create Gloucestershire, commented: “Put outstanding art in the middle of the conversation and people respond.  Put funding and cuts in the middle and they don’t.”

With this in mind, the top three things we think we have learned so far are:

1) Get your ‘message’ right.  There are lots of worthy causes out there, so it’s really important to work out how you will persuade someone to give money to you.  As one Catalyst member put it, “we need to use the right language.  The key is to talk about the art and what we want to achieve, rather than boring people with money and funding problems.”  So how do you get your supporters excited?  Here’s a little test: can you sum up your artistic mission in two sentences? It’s harder than you think...

2) Work as a team.  Open up a dialogue and take time to talk about fundraising.  Several Catalyst members have said that they have now made it the norm to have fundraising on the agenda at both staff and Board meetings.  Share ideas regularly, give suggestions, broaden your networks, share the workload - you’ll be surprised how many potential supporters you all know and how many ‘fundraising’ tasks can be integrated into people’s day-to-day work.

3 ) Make it easy to donate.  It sounds obvious, but several Catalyst members realised that if someone wants to give them money, it’s not actually that easy to do!  There are lots of fairly simple, quick, cheap things you can put in place, from asking for donations when people book courses, to having a donations  box in the foyer, to making sure that any speeches at events include the fundraising message.  Be clear what it is that you’re asking for (no-one likes a bottomless pit) and it makes asking a lot easier.

For further information about Create Gloucestershire’s Catalyst project, please contact Hollie Smith-Charles on holliesmithcharles@gmail.com

Hollie is running a free training session on private fundraising - to find out more click here.

NewsBarney Heywood