On Sunday 10 November, the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Fundraising Fellows arrived at the beautiful Dean’s Place Hotel in Alfriston, East Sussex. With wide eyes, fresh notebooks and an eagerness to learn, we looked forward to the week ahead with anticipation and excitement.
On arrival at The National Arts Fundraising School (NAFS); or #mcNAFS as it is now known on Twitter, we were greeted with a sea of faces – a mixture of Artistic Directors, CEOs, Managers and Development Officers and Producers from an artistically and geographically varied array of organisations. Despite our varying experience, abilities and backgrounds, our motivations and ambitions for the week ahead were all the same:
As a passionate, creative and motivated arts sector workforce, how can we use our creative nature to ensure a financially secure future for our organisations? What fundraising strategies and opportunities can we collectively put in place so that we can continue to develop and create much needed work? How do we communicate the need for arts and culture in the UK?
Run excellently by The Management Centre, NAFS is an effective intensive course in all things fundraising. Over the course of the week we covered a wide range of content such as corporate giving, trusts and foundations and legacy giving. The most inspiring element of the course was that the study was underpinned by strategic planning tools, statistics and data, psychological theory, case studies and even a group pitching task.
Sharing knowledge within the sector is so important for its long term success; so I have decided to share my five ‘top-tips’, applicable to any organisation of any size:
1) Always exercise the Rule of Reciprocity: when asking for a donation, it is always great to be able to give the donor a small gift/token to prompt, or in recognition of their donation.
Fact:In restaurants, tips are always higher when sweets are left with the bill.
2) Communicate the need, not the solution: when communicating to donors of any kind, be they individual givers or large corporations, we have a tendency to get lost in describing the project for which we need funding. This isn’t the need – this is the solution. Once you are clear about what problems your project is solving, you’ll already be on your way to securing more funding.
3) Image is everything: when utilising social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to expand your networks, creating and curating image content means it is more likely be shared. Plus, we’re a creative industry… how can we not be more creative with our social media?! Just make sure you put text on your images in case they get disconnected from the original status/post.
Fact: Posts with images are 94% more likely to be retweeted, generate 53% more likes, gain 104% more comments and have an 84% increase in click through rates.
4) Use the Three Golden Rules to increase your fundraising success:
BE READY – opportunities can come at any moment.
BE CONFIDENT – be physically and mentally prepared, as well as factually prepared. Know what X, Y, or Z amount of investment would do for your organisation.
BE COMMUNICATIVE – don’t just talk about you! Train yourself to talk to a donor in a way that meets their needs and interests.
5) Always review and analyse your successes and failures. What worked? What didn’t work? What could you improve for next time? Simple questions, but get into the habit of asking yourself these questions. (In that order too – never start with negative thoughts!)
NAFS was one of the most enriching weeks of my life. I have gained a much better understanding of my personal learning, as well as a wealth of knowledge and motivation to maximise my fundraising potential within the wider arts and cultural landscape.
Quotes from other NAFS participants:
“NAFS has transformed how I approach fundraising; I know it’s going to have a huge impact on my success as a fundraiser.” – Adam, Sage Gateshead
“NAFS was an overwhelming and pragmatic overview of all areas of fundraising. It has helped me to rethink how I would approach specific fundraising tasks, and has provided a combination of structure and innovation in order to have the best chance of success.” Stephanie, Barbican