A reflection on our Arts Fundraising Fellowship – Emma Pickering and Jill Richens

By Amanda Rigali on

1310 portraits (86)1310 portraits (32)Emma Pickering, Arts Fundraising Fellow for Sadler’s Wells, and Jill Richens, Arts Fundraising Fellow for A New Direction, attended the assessment day on June 30th for the second cohort of Arts Fundraising Fellows. Here, they write about their experience.

Attending the assessment day for the second cohort of Arts Fundraising fellows was quite a surreal experience, in the sense that we were on the ‘other’ side of the process watching young, bright people stand where we stood only ten months ago. The day was a huge success and we really enjoyed meeting the prospective fellows, who were all filled with creative ideas, excitement for the sector and ambitious plans.

Being a part of the process was a reflective moment for us both, making us realise how much we have gained from this year, and the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience we have developed. Our thoughts on our year follow below.



Before the Arts Fundraising Fellowship, I did not fully understand the full breadth of time of the funding cycle, both before applying for and after securing the funding source. On an individual level, it takes time to cultivate, form a bond with donors, and maintain a strong relationship. On a corporate level, time is important in regards to planning ahead to work with their budget allocations for the financial year. As we learnt at the National Arts Fundraising School, the cycle is the product of three issues:

–        the time certain approaches take to mature
–        the level of investment required
–        the rate of return on investment

Cycles of Fundraising - Return and Investment

Hence, the Arts Fundraising Fellowship has certainly developed my skills in time management, working to projects with varying time scales and priority levels.

ConfidenceFellowship assessment day

The Fellowship has also made me a more confident person, both professionally and socially. We have had many sessions on networking, presenting ourselves effectively and the importance of body language. We have been thrown in to situations and come back stronger, learning how to shake off nerves and focus. I also feel a lot more confident in the way I articulate what I do, and my passion for fundraising as a whole.



Through ‘An Evening With’ in conversation events hosted by Cause4 we have met with directors and trustees of Trusts and Foundations, having the opportunity to understand funding applications from the perspective of the funder.

Whilst I have always understood the importance of track record, rigour and building a strong relationship with trusts and foundations, before my Fellowship I was perhaps slightly naïve in thinking this could be achieved through a detailed bid with clear outcomes and sustainability indicators. It was somewhat of an eye-opener to investigate the seven stages that a funder may go through before they begin to read your bid:

  • Have you applied to this funder before? Were you successful or unsuccessful, and why?
  • Has the funder met you in person? And if so, what were their impressions of your organisation, trustees and staff?
  • Have you previously been funded by the trust? If so, did you meet your objectives and monitor correctly?
  • Does your Charity Commission profile resonate with the values outlined in your funding bid?
  • When did you file your accounts? Early or late filing?
  • Who are your trustees? Are your trustees affiliated with any other charity?
  • What is your website like? If you work with children and young people, does your website reflect this? Is your website designed to be youth friendly?
  • What percentage of your annual income does the funding you are asking for account for? Large and small percentages may be cause for concern for a trust or foundation.


Through training, peer discussions and mentoring we have been exposed to a huge range of fundraising tools and tips. Some of the best resources we have discovered are:

– Institute of Fundraising Yahoo groups: a group for many areas of fundraising including prospect researchtrusts and foundationslegaciescorporate. This is a great place for shared learning and discussion online!

– If you don’t have a subscription to the DSC’s fundraising websites (trustfunding.org.ukcompanygiving.org.uk) you can visit their offices to use these resources for free

– DueDil: search Companies House information for free. Useful if looking to approach a company (for example for sponsorship).

To all those who become the second cohort of Arts Fundraising Fellows, you are about to embark on a very intense, challenging but exciting year, and hopefully, this time next year you will be able to reflect on the incredible amount of information and experience you have gained too!

Posted by Amanda Rigali

Amanda is Director of Strategic Development at Cause4, and Head of the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Programme. As well as running the Programme, Amanda runs fundraising training sessions for cultural professionals across England and offers intensive strategy support to a range of charities.

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