On the 24th September, the two new Cause4 Associates (that’s us – Frances and Naomi) travelled through the (torrential) rain to Birmingham to attend the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy one day course: Fundraising Essentials.
Having just begun our fundraising careers, we found the content invaluable in solidifying our base knowledge and giving us top tips, and key ideas to take back to the office. Spending time with other early-career fundraisers felt great too, we were able to learn from each other and gain new contacts.
We learnt more than we could ever summarise in a short blog post, and if you’re an early career fundraiser we couldn’t recommend the day more.
That being said, we each wanted to summarise the biggest lesson we learnt in the day.
“My biggest takeaway was the idea of prioritisation in any fundraising campaign. Although you might be able to get some money from Trusts, corporates, individuals and crowdfunding - and you’ll learn how to do so in the day - your campaign will be much better served if you prioritise within your strategy to identify what the most appropriate funding sources are for this campaign. Considerations might include thinking about who might want to support this kind of work, what resources you have at your disposal, and how quickly you need money coming in. For example, if you have a large network of volunteers and need funding immediately, establish a crowdfunding campaign and ask your volunteers to help you get the word out to their networks. Being clear on your parameters will then help you to prioritise how you can best use your resources to get that income coming in.
Throughout the day, as we moved between the topics, we kept coming back to the idea of prioritisation. If you take the time to make considered decisions at every stage of your fundraising strategy, and choose what not to do, the quality of your campaign is going to be boosted.”
“I absolutely agree with Naomi that prioritisation was a big theme of the day, my key learning adds to this in that in order to prioritise you need to keep in mind who you are and what you are trying to achieve. It’s so important to really know your charity, understand the vision, mission and values, and how your strategy is contributing to them. This should then inform your understanding of who your target donors are and help you to prioritise funding streams.
A good place to start is digging into the Business Plan, Fundraising Strategy and Case for Support – which if you don’t already have one, you’ll learn how to write an excellent one on the course. Aligning on the messaging and key strategies for your organisation will help you in your fundraising.
Keeping your mission at the heart of your fundraising campaigns will also help you to remain authentic and consistent with your charity’s internal and external messaging. Remember, you are asking for support for your work, to do that you need to really understand what is compelling about what you do and why might someone want to be a part of that.”
But as we say, these are general takeaways from a day that was full of bespoke information for the cohort of arts fundraisers who attended. Being taught by a trainer with decades of experience in the sector meant that we had a wealth of information on hand for every question that arose during the day, and we came away full of new ideas to take to our work.
The Fundraising Essentials course will happen again in London (13th November 2019) and Leeds (10th March 2020). Book tickets for yourself or someone within your organisation here.