As statutory funding is squeezed, many of us involved in fundraising for arts charities face a significant challenge. Common perception is that arts charities will suffer the most as government money dries up . The alarmists go one step further and point out that foundations and wealthy individuals may not regard arts organisations as the highest priority if donors have got to step in to help organisations that are stretched.
I prefer a cup half full approach – perhaps we have allowed ourselves to become too dependent on the state and that facing up to developing new streams of income to make our arts organisations sustainable is healthy medicine.
The arts fundraising initiative now launching is a great way of understanding some alternative strategies and great examples of success to deal with this crucial challenge which will have to be shared by trustees and executive working together effectively.
As a Trustee of a number of organisations I see too much protectionist thinking – not only should Trustees support the executive wholly in the development of fundraising and new income strategies but we also need to take healthy risks – to really assume a leadership role within the context of good governance and to ‘invest’. When I was CEO of Marie Curie I always asked Trustees to invest in the fund-raising strategy – to not be too short-term but to think long-term about what we needed to achieve.
I’m looking forward to the Governance training through the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme – together Trustees, CEOs, Artistic Directors and philanthropists can be a unifying force – we can look together at new models of sustainability and provide a healthy mirror for the sector about what’s needing to be achieved as we face an uncertain financial future.