Spinning Plates – Fundraising Workshop

Fundraising in the Arts feedback from the Spinning Plates session NECVAN ran in partnership with Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy and details of a new event planned for April at BALTIC with Trusts and Foundations – a day of insight, sharing and surgeries.

Spinning Plates – Fundraising Workshop
Friday 9th January 2015
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead

This was an Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy funded event, developed by North East Contemporary Visual Arts Network (NECVAN) and hosted by BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

The event was devised with small organisations in mind. Often fundraising advice is given by organisations that host a development team, or who with being placed in a capital city, have greater access to a wealthy group of patrons. Whilst this advice is both generous and well meaning, it is hard for those organisations on the receiving end of such advice, who don’t have such luxuries to know where to start with fundraising. This is particularly relevant to those in a small team, already over stretched and under resourced. Rarely are there fundraising events that focus solely on the small organisation or individual who amongst many other things have to fundraise alongside their ‘day job’. This was where the notion came for ‘spinning plates’ recognising the many tasks those individuals and organisations undertaken on a daily basis.

Over forty people attended this event, from across the greater north area. 

3 fantastic speakers were secured for this event:

  • Freelance Fundraising Consultant Philippa Barr
  • Artistic and Executive Director of Diorama Theatre David Byrne
  • Director of Programme and Cause 4 Amanda Rigali

A huge wealth of advice was shared through these presentations including:

  1. Know your organisation well, know your value and USP 
  2. Be critical about what you are doing, revisit your mission and programme regularly to make sure your offer is attractive to investment, provide an exciting programme that attracts interest, rather than go begging for support just because you deserve it. People give to success NOT distress! 
  3. People give to people, remember to always explain what you would do if you were given money, explain what that investment would provide and write a personal hand written thank you letter afterwards, people always remember good manners.
  4. Continue to inform those who have invested in the past in your organisation, give them an update, explain what ongoing investment has given you as an organisation, they may be encouraged to help you further to meet new goals.
  5. Remember, trusts and foundations are not statutory funding, the money comes from personal funds, there have no legal obligation to part with their money, so the case making to Trusts and Foundations has to be rigorous and convincing and written well to stand out amongst the many applications they get. 
  6. Have a look at how your peer organisations or those you aspire to emulate and see how they developed, pull up their company accounts, looks at where they secured their investment from, there might be ideas of funding sources that you can gain from reviewing them.
  7. Produce a Case for Support document – ensure that you have answers ready for any questions donors make have. Fundraising needs a plan, ensure you have a document that holds all your facts and figures, paperwork, legal documents, all at the ready.
  8. When applying for trusts and foundations, don’t just apply for one and sit back, take the content and edit/ amend it for 2-4 applications to Trusts and Foundations so that you have multiple chances of funding rather than waiting for one to come back and then starting again. 
  9. Ensure you harness your board properly to get them to help you fundraise. Remind them consistently about organisational plans and ambitions so they know what is ahead in terms of programme and can consider who they know and what they can do to support you.
  10. Make sure if your trustees connect you to a potential patron or donor, that you know what to do with them, ensure they are greeted well and a clear outline of how their support would make an impact > This will reassure those people that you are well equipped to spend their money well. It is a risk for any Board member to introduce their contacts to you, make sure you don’t embarrass them.
  11. If you look to crowd fund, ensure you around 30 people lined up to make an instant donation as soon as you launch the initiative, this will inspire people to quickly follow suit and it will create momentum. 
  12. All organisations were encouraged to consider Charitable status to enable greater use of Trusts and Foundations. 

After the three presentations, the audience selected from one of three workshops to attend, each one being hosted by one of the three speakers:

  • Crisis point – statutory funding has been lost, your organisation is on the brink of closure, how do you play your way out of danger?  This was led by David Byrne 
  • Getting going – your organisation is ready to consider actively pursuing fundraising, what needs to be done next to get going? This was led by Philippa Barr
  • What Next? – your organisation has had a moderate period of success but needs to now refocus effort in light of this, how do you build on small success and grow further through fundraising? This was led by Amanda Rigali

Following the workshops, there was a plenary session to feedback key issues that came out of the three breakout groups. The sessions were positively received by the audience who found them very helpful in thinking about their own personal circumstances. When queried at the end of the event what further support those attending would be interested in the following suggestions were made:

  • A session for Board members on their role in supporting Fundraising
  • A help session on how to develop their Case for Support plan as referenced by Amanda Rigali – what needs to be in there, what it should look like
  • A session to hear from Trusts and Foundations about what it is that they are looking for?

Further Action 

Since this event, a meeting has been held with the Community Foundation who offer a range of training that could be useful for the sector as follow up to the January event.  The first of which will take place on:

28th April 2015 North Arts Sector Trusts and Foundations event at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead - A day of insight, sharing and surgeries with local and national trusts and foundations for cultural organisations in the North East. For more information and to sign up to attend click here.

A further session is being planned for Board members of visual arts organisation – delivered again by Community Foundation , also looking at an informal session around Case for support plans - what they look like and what needs to be in them. More details to follow in due course.