Michaela Clayton was Arts Fundraising Fellow for People United until September 2016, and is now Trusts & Foundations Officer at Cardboard Citizens.
Reading the line ‘still only able to fund 1 in 10 applications that are submitted’ (Paul Hamlyn Foundation) from Kathryn Worthington’s Blog sends shivers down my spine when it comes to applying for funding from Trusts and Foundations. There are too many good applications being sent to trusts and foundations which simply cannot support them.
So what does this mean in terms of our friends and foes in the arts fundraising world?
When it comes to applying to trust and foundations we need all the luck we can get. If that luck means that it’s a trust and foundation which is brushing off the cobwebs from the last person who applied or being a new and innovative project that excites the trustees then surely we need to send it off in secret and hide in a dark room until the deadline is up.
As arts fundraisers however, we are encouraged to collaborate. ‘Find a charity similar to yours and then apply to the same organisation that funds them.’ It’s a sentence we all remember from our art fundraising training. And if we are a charity that advertises our funders, does this mean we’re giving away some of our next year’s funding to a charity that could be our friends rather than a competitor?
We have started this adventure as a group of 25 Fellows and encouraged to share our experiences and information with each other. We countlessly post in our Facebook chat sharing news articles and stories from the fundraising world as well as asking for help and knowledge from our peers. However, what about when it comes to trust and foundations? What if their project is better than ours? What if they get that vital £5,000 in funding that we really need!
I actually write this moments after I have sent an email to Fellow Jodie Marsden telling her all about a trust and foundation that I think would be great for her to apply for…. you see with me, I think we NEED to collaborate. It’s getting harder to get donations, but instead of worrying about losing much needed money to charities that also believe in what we do, we could look at joining them.
Sharing information about a trust I can’t apply for because I’m in Kent with someone who can, is a great way to widen our search and is helpful and common sense. Then there’s also an option to collaborate with another charity on a proposal to access bigger funds, which is what my host organisation, People United, did on their application to Arts Council Catalyst in 2013 with Whitstable Biennale . Working together, we managed to get access to the Catalyst fund. And it is this sort of collaboration that is essential when we look at applying for funds for Europe.
To me when it comes down to it, it’s all about the bigger picture. We are in all in this search for funding together, and perhaps together we can make a substantial difference to fundraising for the arts.
What do you think? Is collaboration the answer or is it hindering our search for funds? We’d love to know what you think.