Blog 2017/18

Blog 2017/18

Week 11: Eleanor Prescott, BAFTA Cymru & Sinfonia Cymru 

At both Sinfonia Cymru and BAFTA Cymru, I’m currently challenging myself to speak creatively about what I do to strengthen my fundraising overall.

When peers and new acquaintances have asked what it is I do for a living, I’ve usually said; “I’m an arts fundraiser. Currently in my second year of training.” Normally this elicits a confused response…

“What, shaking a bucket, door-to-door or something?”
“Wow, I never even considered that would be a career option. What kind of thing do you do?”
A few jokers amongst my friends have suggested, “I’m an artist, can you raise me some funds?”

Seeing as arts fundraising is not often a public-facing, obvious role, this is understandable. In the past I’ve found replies like these challenging to answer comprehensively. Despite explaining “I raise charitable income for arts organisations”, people are still confused as to what my daily tasks are or why a separate job role is necessary. Given the varied nature of what I am doing day-to-day, which is anything from writing copy for new donation boxes to having tea with a current patron in order to get feedback on a membership scheme, reeling off my to-do list doesn’t clarify the role either.

I’ve identified in the past with A&B Cymru that an area of weakness for me is becoming bogged down in details and immediate priorities, rather than big picture thinking - “why am I doing this, and why is it an important and valuable use of my time and the organisation’s time”? Thinking creatively about the bigger picture helps me to communicate this value to others, and answering their questions in turn challenges me to inspire them to my cause.

The work I’ve done recently with both Sinfonia Cymru and BAFTA Cymru has been inspirational. In drafting copy for Sinfonia’s charitable messaging as part of my individual giving strategy, and researching for BAFTA sponsorship proposals and trust applications, I’ve drilled down into their core value, assessing and reassessing examples of great impact on individuals and evidence of need. I’m looking forward to evaluating this from the perspective of a funder at the upcoming A&B Cymru CultureStep panel as well. Big-picture thinking keeps me passionate as a fundraiser, and illustrates how essential to organisations having the ability to radiate that passion outwards is – and therefore why it requires a dedicated role! From research, to relationship building, to the success of bringing in another grant, donation or sponsorship (I’m currently celebrating grant success at Sinfonia!) – these are not separate from how I tell my story at any time the opportunity arises, and only strengthens deliberate fundraising pitches. “Arts fundraiser” isn’t just a job title I slip on at 9am and take off again at 5.30 – it’s very much a full-time career.

As former Jerwood Charitable Foundation director Shonagh Manson has said; “You are fundraising all the time”.

Week 10: Sioned Young, Pontio

These last five weeks have been very much a taste of everything. With three mentors within Pontio and the University I’ve been introduced to a whole range of elements relevant to fundraising. Sheila O’Neal, the University’s Director of Development, has tasked me with exploring the potential of developing a subscription service for Pontio.

With Elen ap Robert, Pontio’s artistic director we’ve been in discussion with 3rd sector organisations on partnerships projects. Also, rather excitingly, I’ve started planning a corporate event for January, where I’ll be inviting local businesses and potential supporters to Pontio to see an eagerly anticipated new production from circus company Pirates of the Carabina.

In the last five weeks I’ve also had the chance to attend a selection of events. Last week I assisted Arts & Business in their North Wales Networking Event over in MOSTYN Gallery in Llandudno.

Two days later I travelled down to Cardiff for Arts & Business’ Fundraising Symposium. I got to hear from a range of trusts and foundations about what factors determine success in a grant application. It was useful as I’m currently working on my first small grant application to assist in funding a potential silver screening event. This will also be an opportunity to help tackle the current rise in social isolation within the older generation, and introduce new audiences to Pontio

Attending the Symposium also gave me the chance to meet arts fundraisers from across Wales and catch up with two of my fellow interns, Johnny and Lucy. It was a big relief to hear that they had faced some of the same initial obstacles and breakthroughs as myself and although all four of other interns may be on the other side of the country I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of this internship journey with them and see us blossom into (hopefully!) great fundraisers.

Week 9: Maddie Towell, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

This month has been events, events, events, with a little sprinkling of databases, GDPR and research.   I’m currently helping with four events and I’m also the RSVP for them all.  On Thursday we had some Patrons in for a behind the scenes rehearsal of the Winter Opera Gala.  Upcoming, we have an event in London at the start of December at UBS, our philanthropy sponsor’s English headquarters, a behind the scenes event around Christmas on Broadway for our patrons and lastly we have the Winter Opera Gala on Saturday.

The Gala will showcase our opera singers and launch the start of The David Seligman Opera School, which starts a partnership between the College and the WNO.  The Gala will also feature Maestro Carlo Rizzi and the WNO Orchestra.  We are expecting over 100 guests at our pre-concert reception, and there are so many different parts to the reception, we have events within events!  It’s taken huge amounts of planning, but now it’s all done, so fingers crossed for a great event.

Earlier this month, I actually got to attend an event, rather than help plan it.  I recently attended a Community Foundation in Wales event.  It was a fantastic opportunity to meet more people who work within the same circle as me within Cardiff, and find out more about local charities and organisations.

On the other side of things, I can now renew and process new memberships all by myself.  I’m attending a GDPR talk next week and as we switch database systems next month to Spektrix, and I’ve been to several training events for that.  Everyone told me Christmas was a busy time at the College and so far they’ve been right!

Week 8: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

Since my last blog post I’ve kept up my momentum of learning and joined the Sherman 5 Reps to submerse myself within the fantastic Sherman 5 project. To quickly sum up, Sherman 5, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, offers free membership and is designed to give people who have never attended a performance at Sherman Theatre the chance to do so. As part of my training, I’ve attended a ‘Visual Awareness’ workshop by the Cardiff Institute for the Blind prior to volunteering at both the audio described and captioned performance of The Cherry Orchard.

By immersing myself within the fantastic Sherman 5 project, I’ve gained a better insight into how the prospective plans and ambitions for the scheme may evolve. This will aid me in drafting my own applications. And, feeling inspired by the Sherman 5 ethos, I pitched a photo legacy project to its coordinator, Guy O'Donnell, utilising my background as a photographer/video artist.

I aim to photograph or support members to use photography as a means of visually explaining their journey to the theatre. It’ll provide an opportunity for us to learn from the experiences of our members, create another means of communication between individuals and invite renewed discussions about the project and accessibility to the theatre.

Aside from that, approaching Christmas, I’ve found myself deep in research mode, updating information on our Trusts and Foundations and writing my own first draft of an application. Next week I’m attending CMI Cymru’s ‘The Power of Networking’ event and the’ Fundraising Symposium’, Supported by the Hodge Foundation to improve my networking skills. Continuing my personal involvement with the arts in Wales, next week I’m exhibiting my work at Art on the Hill in Newport.

Week 7: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

The first month of my time at Hijinx has been largely spent learning about the organisation. How it works, what it does, who’s involved – but critically what it needs. I said the last time I wrote a post how incredibly lucky I felt to be part of the organisation, and that’s still true. This is due in large part to the volume of work it does, who it reaches and the impact it has on their lives. As such, it needs the financial resources to keep going. So, it’s lucky – what with my job being to raise money – that I’ve been placed with an organisation whose vision I back so passionately.  Because a huge bonus for fundraising is that you really believe in what you’re doing.

As well as learning about the organisation, I’ve spent a lot of time this month getting my ducks in a row. I’m putting a fundraising plan together for the next few months. This has included creating a database of Trusts and Foundations to apply to from in-depth research into prospects. It’s time consuming, but actually a very helpful use of my time. I’ve also been redeveloping our process for individual giving, researching and selecting a new online giving platform to implement through our website. I’ve also been auditing and beginning to rewrite fundraising material – both electronic and looking at print options.

I also got to head to London for a training course with the Independent Theatre Council on Effective Fundraising. A great day in which we covered the aspects of Trusts fundraising, as well as getting a lot of time to role-play situations where we meet with funders. 

Week 6: Eleanor Prescott, BAFTA Cymru & Sinfonia Cymru 

A month in – what a jam-packed four weeks they have been. It feels like I’ve been here longer than a month, but the time has also flown by.

Following Curate #BowDown with Sinfonia Cymru - which was a tremendous eye-opener into the refreshing programming that Sinfonia put together – I’ve had a highly productive and exciting few weeks. Beginning with preparing and submitting a couple of trust applications gave me a good grasp on Sinfonia Cymru’s mission, direction, regular programme of events and also the especially fresh and unusual projects which are in the works. Attending Curate, and one of the recent tour dates for some of Sinfonia’s more traditional programming, helped me to scope out the gaps in our fundraising efforts and where we can improve. This has ultimately led me to prepare a full individual giving strategy for the organisation, which I have presented to the Chief Executive in the last week. I am really enthusiastic about it as this is a fundraising challenge I haven’t faced before, having never prepared my own strategy or felt real ownership of it in the same way. This is a real chance to think especially creatively and explore new avenues to attract greater individual support, and I can’t wait to get started. I have also met and received advice so far from my arts mentor around this, so I am feeling greatly inspired by the opportunities ahead.

With a very different focus, my time at BAFTA Cymru so far has mostly been concentrated on stewarding corporate relationships in the follow-up to the awards. I’ve prepared the awards sponsors and partners reports detailing the benefits of working with the Cymru Awards and thanking them for their support, which will hopefully incentivise them to support again in 2018. I have done some preliminary research for trusts and foundations applications and have also been introduced to members of the fundraising team in London, who are working with us to fundraise for a programme of activity to come to Wales. I am looking forward next to devising a fundraising strategy for the organisation relating to this activity and upcoming events that BAFTA Cymru are planning for 2018. 

Week 5: Sioned Young, Pontio

If I were to describe myself over my first three weeks at Pontio I’d have to say like a sponge, absorbing every possible thing that I could about the centre to help propel me on my internship.  Having only just graduated from Bangor University and subsequently volunteered for Pontio numerous times, when I started on my first day three weeks ago I was pretty confident I knew all I needed to know about Pontio – how wrong was I!

It’s been great learning about how it all works, who does what, the projects and performances that have been and are on their way alongside what Pontio’s bigger mission is. I don’t think I’ve done as much reading and swotting up since my A-Levels but learning about what has and could be done in the lines of fundraising has been really interesting, alongside researching into how other organisations go about it.

With Pontio’s building not yet two years old and myself the first person to be working specifically in the fields of fundraising it’s been great playing around with a whole host of fundraising ideas not yet explored by the centre. A particular one is individual giving whilst purchasing a ticket. Here, with the support of my mentors, I’ve started setting up a Health and Wellbeing Fund where all individual donations are put towards great causes within the centre. These include BLAS after-school theatre group or Corneli Cudd (Hidden Corners), a music engagement project between young people and dementia sufferers. So I’m looking forward to the fund going live hopefully in the next few weeks!

It's been a great start to my internship and I just can’t wait now to see what the next stage of my internship will bring! 

Week 4: Maddie Towell, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Meet the team, explore the college, find my desk, go! It’s been nearly 3 weeks now and it’s been a whirlwind.   As soon as I got to grips with the basics it’s been go, go, go! Initially I did some research on the college before I learned all about our friends scheme Connect.  So far I’ve taken minutes for a meeting, learned about the different levels of membership, renewed all the October memberships (pretty much all of them) both in tessitura (online database) and in spreadsheets.  I’ve then mailed them all a thank you letter, membership card and newsletter.  I’ve also cross checked everyone’s addresses and now feel like I’m becoming a tessitura wiz, especially when I learned how to do program reports and money entry!

I’ve recently been looking up legacy ideas as we’re developing the current legacies system further.  I’ve looked up trusts and foundations that might sponsor our new writing and drama festival, NEW. I’ve even started writing my first funding application!

We held fundraising events around Maestro Gergiev and the Mariinsky Stradivarius Ensemble concert and workshop when they came to the college.  We had a few members of Connect in for the workshop and held a drinks reception around the concert.  This was also a great opportunity to welcome our new Acting Principle.

Lastly, yesterday was the Breast Cancer Awareness Month Charity Lunch held by the Tenovus at The Cornerstone which my business mentor Karen Welch kindly invited me to.  It was fantastic that I got to attend!

Week 3: Lucy Purrington, Sherman Theatre

First day nerves are to be expected, it’s very typical to feel anxious. After receiving the guided tour, introductions to staff members and finally sitting down at my new desk, my emotions were not so typical; not what I had expected. I relaxed, as if it was my 3rd or maybe 5th day as the staff talked me through how to set up my own computer log in, email account and chatted enthusiastically about future community projects, productions and The Cherry Orchard, (this needs to be seen!)

Each introduction inspired a wealth of enthusiasm upon explaining what my job role would be as a ‘creative intern fundraising for the arts.’  It was clear that each team member held the fundraising department in high regard. And, as the days unfolded and I became more familiar with the Sherman 5 and community engagement projects, I saw why.

The tremendous work that the Sherman does wouldn’t be possible without the funds to support it. From community projects encouraging disadvantaged and disabled people to engage with workshops, theatre productions and supporting emerging talent with sponsored assistant director positions, funding is crucial. And what better way to learn the trade than to give me full access to the application process and, pardon the cliché, throw me into the deep end. I feel very fortunate to be here, during an exciting time of change as the Sherman looks to explore new contemporary ways of fundraising.

Week 2: Johnny Dawson, Hijinx Theatre

Being the first new intern to write this is pretty daunting. At the time of doing so, I’ve been working at Hijinx for four days – most of that time being spent trying to absorb as much information as possible about the organisation. What do I say at this point? I’ll start with this: it’s amazing to be working again! Better yet, I’m absolutely thrilled I get to do so with such a dedicated, welcoming team who work towards achieving such an important vision.

That said, I will be jumping straight into the fundraising. In the run up to Christmas, I will be focused on raising money for Hijinx’s community groups – Odyssey and Telemachus – which includes an application to Aviva’s Community Fund due early next week. This will also include a bid to Children in Need, as well as other Trusts and Foundations. Since telling the stories of how a charity can help its beneficiaries is so key to fundraising, I’ve spent a large part of my first week getting to know the actors and participants Hijinx works with, specifically visiting the Odyssey and Telemachus groups. It’s truly been a privilege to meet these people, and I can’t wait to go back again and visit them next week.

Thinking more long term, I’m going to be looking at other Trusts and Foundations to contribute to core costs, as well as setting up a new Friends scheme for the organisation. 

Week 1: Eleanor Prescott, BAFTA Cymru & Sinfonia Cymru 

It feels truly fantastic to be back on the internships programme for another 10 months of fundraising. I’ve had a refreshing break, but am excited now to be welcomed into two new organisations (yes two!) for this Strand 2 internship. I now reside with Sinfonia Cymru for 3 days a week, and BAFTA Cymru the other two, so expect a hefty double blog every 5 weeks from now on!

As with the beginning of my first year internship, which coincided with City of the Unexpected, it’s straight in at the deep end (my favourite way to learn!). I’m looking forward to Sinfonia Cymru’s upcoming Curate #BowDown event at Tramshed Tech on 7th October and the BAFTA Cymru Awards on the 8th. It’s guaranteed to be an intense weekend, but as a fundraiser, no doubt a brilliantly hands-on experience.

I will capitalise on this; making the most of the opportunity to understand these events inside out, scope out fundraising possibilities for future ones, and gain insight into the wider ethos of each organisation put into action. From Strand 1 I’ve learned that a great fundraiser understands well the impact of the work that their organisation does, and I believe I can convey the best understanding in my applications, sponsorship pitches and other funding opportunities through having viewed the impact first-hand, utilising events like these as a chance to go in with fresh eyes and adapt my view to that of a potential funder unfamiliar with the organisation.

With Sinfonia Cymru, my immediate focus over the next month or so is preparing and submitting some key trust applications and assisting the Director in completing others, where I am hoping to prove a valuable addition to the team with my previous experience. But I am also looking forward to exploring new funding avenues over the next few months as well, researching the possibilities of text giving and legacy campaigns, and helping put together some literature for our Friends & Patrons.

With BAFTA Cymru, my starting focus will be assisting on a couple of events this week prior to the awards next weekend, getting a feel for how the smaller BAFTA Cymru events operate – a Career Clever event which I attended on my first day (a scheme which supports those hoping to break into the film and television industry) and the Nominees Party for the upcoming awards tonight. The big challenge ahead of me in the coming months will be encouraging high-level donations, particularly attracting new members of the Academy Circle, as cultivating major donors, as opposed to corporate sponsors with very different motivations for giving, is something I have limited experience of currently, although I have previous experience of stewarding existing relationships whilst at Wales Millennium Centre. I’ll also undertake the challenge of securing trusts and foundations support, when the glam and moneyed appearance of the BAFTA’s can overshadow the charitable work which they do in the eyes of a grant maker.

All in all tons to be getting on with, and best of luck to the Strand 1 starting their internships this week!