11 December 2017back

Creative Internships Blog 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”.

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