Catalyst news – Future ACE investment in arts fundraising

Hollie Smith-Charles, Fundraising Consultant on Create Gloucestershire's Catalyst-funded Fundraising and Philanthropy initiative, shares the latest news from ACE about their plans to support arts fundraising. 

Last week, I attended the Midlands Arts Fundraising Forum, an informal gathering of fundraisers from across the Midlands, who get together twice a year to share learning, ideas and experiences.

Gathered in a conference suite at Birmingham Hippodrome, we heard from Clare Titley, the Director of Philanthropy at Arts Council England (ACE).  She spoke about their future plans for ‘Catalyst’.

Catalyst is a private giving investment scheme aimed at helping cultural organisations to get better at private fundraising. Create Gloucestershire is taking part in the current scheme, working with seven of our members on a consortium approach to philanthropy. 

From summer 2015, the Arts Council will share more detail about the criteria for future Catalyst grants.  For now, Clare spoke about their preliminary plans:

What will the next round of Catalyst support?

Arts Council aims to ring-fence £26million for this grant scheme, as growing philanthropy is a strategic priority.  The focus will be on capacity building within organisations and on providing match-funding to incentivise donors. 

Unlike previous rounds, the next programme will include corporate giving and sponsorship, with a focus on how arts organisations can get better at advocacy, sharing best practice with the private sector and getting business people on to arts boards. 

They also plan to support new or innovative ways of giving, such as crowd-funding.

Who should apply?

The evaluation of the earlier rounds of Catalyst have shown that if we are to create a culture of giving in England, then small and medium-sized arts enterprises (SMEs) are key.  ACE will once again be seeking consortia to put in joint bids and will look to third parties to support groups of SMEs. 

The larger arts organisations, with established and successful fundraising teams, will be incentivised to become fundraising leaders for the sector, to share their knowledge and experiences with smaller companies. 

Existing grant-holders will need to demonstrate how they will build on their current Catalyst experiences to take things forwards or do things differently - i.e. what have they learnt, what have been the challenges/successes and how will they address these over the next three years?

What is the timescale?

Applications for the next round will be open from October 2015. ACE are re-vamping their applications process so there will be a new format.  Grants will start running from April 2016 and can run for up to three years.

What about museums and libraries?

It is not yet clear whether museums and libraries will be eligible, or whether future Catalyst funding will once again come via Heritage Lottery Fund. 

For further information about Create Gloucestershire’s Catalyst project, please contact Hollie Smith-Charles on