Heather Holcroft-Pinn was Fellow for Tobacco Factory Theatres. Heather helped to raise new funds from Trusts & Foundations, both to support education work and the organisation’s future capital plans.
Over the course of my fellowship year I have been very lucky to be part of a fundraising partnership with another Bristol organisation. Tobacco Factory Theatres have partnered with Travelling Light Theatre Company to create and deliver a fantastic new education project. From the beginning The Dahl Project was a collaborative endeavour and therefore fundraising for all of the project’s costs was also a collaborative effort.
As Michaela pointed out in her recent blog, we are often tempted to keep our fundraising efforts close to our chest but collaboration is all about building a ‘bigger picture’ for fundraising in the arts. This is something that I believe Bristol organisations are really beginning to embrace, since the founding of the FAB network (Fundraising for the Arts in Bristol), an initiative that Michael, year two fellow for Spike Island, describes in this blog. Our fundraising partnership with Travelling Light has been a fantastic way to put these ideas to the test and I’ve come away with three key reasons why fundraising collaboratively is a fantastic idea for arts organisations.
1. Double the capacity and double the contacts
Unsurprisingly it is helpful to share your resources. The increased capacity we’ve had for fundraising for the The Dahl Project has been particularly useful as our organisations have been able to communicate effectively over when we are free to work on the project and when our hands are tied with other important fundraising focuses. This has meant a steady stream of applications coming from both organisations rather than what may have been more interrupted efforts.
In addition, when we’ve put our heads together and shared the prospects we’ve researched we’ve been able to openly discuss who has a closer relationship with the trusts we’ve identified or who is best-placed to ask for gifts-in-kind from a company. Despite working in the same city for a long time we’ve also both uncovered local Trusts and Foundations that the other organisation had no prior knowledge of.
2. Learn from each other
Whether it’s researching a new list of prospects or learning about the wonders of a shared google spreadsheet, collaborating with another organisation is bound to teach you new skills. Travelling Light Theatre Company has a wealth of knowledge about project fundraising for education in Bristol and they have been invaluable partners for me, encouraging learning about this area which is still relatively new to us as an organisation. Similarly, Tobacco Factory Theatres has great links with businesses across the city and we have been able to share knowledge about approaching business for corporate support.
3. Broaden your case for support
No arts organisation is an island, we are all operating in the context of the place where we work. It has been easy to make the case for The Dahl Project because our partnership means that the project serves two different areas of the city, focuses on three different age-ranges of young people and reaches out to both organisations’ different communities. By collaborating, we know that the project is the best-placed to be doing the work that it does, as we draw on each other’s connections, communities, experience and knowledge. In my opinion this is one of the top reasons that arts organisations should consider collaborating, in order to offer the best possible experience for your community. By collaborating we ensure that the Arts offer something for everyone in the city.