Create Gloucestershire is leading a consortium of seven organisations to develop expertise in private giving, with the support of the Catalyst fund – see our project page for more information. 

Recently the group has been focusing on how their boards of trustees or directors can support them in their fundraising efforts – read Hollie Smith-Charles’s blog on learning from the project so far.

As part of this journey, consortium member Ali Russell, CEO of New Brewery Arts, attended a course on Trustee Leadership in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy, led by Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett and attended by CEOs and Chairs from Arts Organisations from the South West and West Mids.

Here she shares her key learning from the day, in handy bullet points:

Philanthropy and fundraising

  • Philanthropic Funding probably makes up 10% of income in the voluntary sector
  • Donors are customers – they do expect a return however small and very definitely a personalised thank you.
  • Donors can be those giving a fiver or much more.
  • Once they have given twice and enjoyed it they are likely to continue.
  • To make the case put the charitable status at the core and learn to translate the value of your work in education, society and the economy.
  • Set an ambitious target and eat one bite at a time.
  • Invest in fundraising! On average 30p buys a £1
  • Fundraisers should have equal or more status with artistic staff
  • Staff and trustees should create and nurture donors. It’s everyone's job, not just the fundraiser's.

Trustees and wider family

  • Trustees should be involved in fundraising. What you need on the board are those who connect, tell stories, host, act as ambassadors, listen to risk takers and experience sharers
  • What you don’t need on the board are those who are: risk adverse; name-droppers; seagulls (people who swoop, make a mess and leave!); glory hunters; frustrated CEOs.
  • Trustees should lead by example - donors trust them because they are not paid.
  • All trustees can connect but they do need the tools to do so…the stories!
  • Trustees should invest themselves – however small, it’s another way of leading by example.
  • Most of the time it is better not to set up a separate fundraising sub-committee – instead it should be on high on every board meeting agenda.

And most importantly, make giving fun!

Beth Alden, CG's membership officer and Trustee for New Brewery Arts also attended, and adds:

"In particular as one of the key things I took away from it was that board members / trustees should see it as part of what they do for the organisation. This felt like a turn around from the board asking the organisation what it is doing to raise funding to asking myself what I can do. It seemed to follow that if trustees were prepared to do something then others might be encouraged to follow. 

I've always found this difficult as I'm not in a position to be philanthropic, and so giving my time and knowledge has felt like my contribution. So it really made me think what I can do. 

I also learned a lot about what philanthropists want in return, and it's a proper, sincere thank you (and maybe something else as part of the deal too). But it was the joy of being able to give and be appreciated that was key."