Arts Trust Group Conference – Funding Network 2017

By Maria Thomas on

The Arts Trusts Group is a peer network of arts and cultural Trust fundraisers. The group is a non-competitive platform to share news and opportunities, and to offer peer to peer support on challenges that arts fundraisers face. Written by Clare O’Hara. Supported by Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy’s Funding Network Projects 2017.

On Monday 16th October, 100 Trust and Foundation fundraisers joined the Arts Trusts Group’s annual conference; chaired by Althea Efunshile CBE, Founding Chair of the National College of Creative Industries, supported by Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy (AFP), Historic Royal Palaces, the Royal Opera House and members of the Arts Trust Group.

Meet the Funder

Moira Sinclair, Paul Hamlyn Foundation | Mary Rose Gunn, The Bulldog Trust | Lynsey Rowe, Arts Council England

The funders proffered advice from their perspective:

  • Look at the aims of the funder and see how you can help them deliver their mission.
  • Show you’ve had conversations with the communities you want to work with.
  • Get good data, be clear on your project’s impact and demonstrate this.
  • If you are new to a funder, then start small in your first application’s ask.
  • Funders time is very limited so don’t discuss various projects.

Trends in Trusts and Foundations – Cathy Pharoah, author of Top 300 Foundations annual report

Cathy confirmed that there has been a slow reduction in the amount of Trust and Foundation giving to the arts. New arts Trusts are emerging, but don’t give at anywhere near the scale of the losses experienced, which estimated at roughly £56million. We need to see new arts Trusts emerging, in the meanwhile, partnership working will be key. However, things are still positive if you’re embarking on a capital campaign, as a quarter of Trust spending being capital grants.

Who Asks? Findings from a study of successful fundraisers

Dr Beth Breeze, Director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent

Beth spent three years studying fundraisers. They’re predominantly well educated, female and under 40, however million pound+ askers are more likely to be male and over 40. Fundraisers’ level of trust in others is likely to be high, they are more likely to have busy social lives, and they score very highly on extraversion, openness, and all five factors of emotional intelligence. Fundraising involves high levels of emotional labour. Managing delicate relationships with positivity is crucial. Fundraisers need to dial their personalities up and down according to who they’re dealing with. The more you put the donor first and listen, the more likely you are to secure a larger gift.

Peer Sharing Applications – David Burgess, Apollo Fundraising

David gave us five minutes to read an application, then another five to write a three-sentence summary, mirroring the standard amount of time Trusts have. His tips to make your application easier to read are:

  1. Keep sentences short
  2. 2 sides where possible
  3. Left align your text
  4. Use simple language

To make applications and your charity’s aims clear he suggests:

  1. Clearly articulating how you match their aims
  2. Using the funder’s words and phrases
  3. Being passionate!

David’s final recommendations were:

  1. Include a summary
  2. Get it in ahead of the deadline
  3. Follow all the guidelines
  4. Consider the photocopier! Pictures may become a grey mess
  5. Avoid sending large parcels or using recorded delivery

Capital Campaigns Masterclass

Sophie Henstridge, Royal Opera House | Emily Anstead, National Theatre | Vicki Kelsall, BFI

The group shared their experiences of major capital work. Take home wisdom included:

  • Involve every single employee, from staff who meet audiences to Trustees making major asks.
  • There can be multiple stages but start the public campaign late, as audiences can get capital campaign fatigue!
  • Plan naming opportunities well in advance.
  • Try and incentivise capital donors to become revenue donors once it is over.

What they wished they had known:

  • It takes a long time!
  • When you can visit the construction site make the most of it – people love to don a hard hat!
  • Your budget will increase, so set out with this growth in mind.
  • Trusts are familiar with the capital process, delays and increased costs.

Are the Arts so Different?

Dominic Evers, NSPCC | Amy Saggers, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home | Matt Armstrong, RSC | Anne Biggs, Historic Royal Palaces | Chaired by Marina Jones, ROH

The final panel of the day saw arts and non-arts charities come together to take questions on Trust Fundraising. Interesting responses included:

  • Try to engage Trusts and to meet them. They are not Trusts, they are people.
  • Use the resources you do have with imagination. For example, the NSPCC can’t invite funders to meet the children they work with, but they can send them a poem or a picture they made.
  • If your organisation has very limited resources seek an exact match between your project and a Trust’s aims, then focus strongly on how you will achieve impact.

Setting Up Your Own Arts Trust Group

We want to open up our group to fundraisers across the UK. To enter you have to be a fundraiser working predominantly on Trusts, raising a significant amount of income, and we meet every three months to discuss successes and challenges.

If you are interested and would like more information, please get in touch with AFP. We’re very happy to welcome observers, or if you’re a fundraiser based in the East of England please get in touch at support@junction.co.uk – I’d love to hear from you!

Posted by Maria Thomas

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