Our event took place in mid-January 2018, with a core group drawn from One Voice – a consortium of arts organisations from across Birmingham, who have collaborated to pursue development in relation to public sector commissioning opportunities. Representatives of Ex Cathedra, Women in Theatre, Craftspace, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Reel Access were joined by Writing West Midlands and BCMG to a session delivered by Rhiannon Davies from The Audience Agency. The benefits of bringing together a small group meant that the session could be responsive and discursive as well as imparting key tranches of information. Without exception, the concerns of the group were the potential enormity of the changes that might have to be implemented and how complex or time consuming these might be, in addition to the impact on our abilities to pursue direct marketing alongside a fundraising ask. These commonly-held and expressed concerns meant that the group could find some comfort in shared challenges, and this set the tone for a session that was responsive and discursive, being led equally by information-giving sessions and scenario-led discussion.
The issues that were identified as learning outcomes following the workshop are:
Synchronicity of data – we had a quite a discussion about this issue, essentially about keeping information up-to-date across different areas of our organisations. This is a simple expectation of data subjects, and potentially a challenging one for some organisations, where data might be used separately for marketing and fundraising purposes. We learnt of the need to integrate practise across our respective organisations, by putting in place simple steps, thus ensuring that data was working for us but crucially so that we would comply with new regulations.
Policy & Practice – some organisations have identified the need to draft new data protection and data management policies, and this session enabled them to make a start on this. The session highlighted security and protocol in the event of data breaches, freedom of information requests, and informed consent; as well as the need to review how data is stored, and to think about which procedures should be formally written down to improve consistency and provide security for the organisation in the event of a complaint.
Consent – clarification on ‘consent’ as it relates to arts organisations; some organisations reported they would be moving from legitimate interest to ‘consent’ for all marketing and fundraising communications in order to comply. This area of discussion encompassed the need to clear about when ‘support us’ is really a fundraising request. For many of us, particularly in the smaller organisations, the mix of communication is such that it’s not always possible or desirable to separate fundraising news from marketing communications. As fundraising activity becomes more integrated with programme delivery, particularly in small organisations where there are no separate fundraising teams, the need for simple and clear statements of consent to be provided at the point of data collection will be crucial to ensure communications comply.
Databases: The scale of our organisations meant a range of data management software was used: from modest databases developed by organisations over many years of project and programme delivery, to more complex CRM systems driven by ticketing processes. For one organisation, the planned purchase of a new system has meant that the session informed their discussion, with potential providers of a new CRM system enabling them to be more informed and confident about their requirements. They felt more able to ensure that the functionality of a new database would evidence relevant consents.
Existing data – we learnt that one of the most challenging steps will be handling existing data to ensure that consent can be given, and that any steps taken would need to be done by the May deadline.
The group welcomed the opportunity to develop a bespoke event, and one where the costs made it achievable for organisations to send those who work on fundraising and marketing to the same event. As well as being informative, the structure allowed for the sharing of ideas for solutions to challenges, and we hope to continue this exchange informally amongst the group.