Rachel Jones A&BI have been at Arts & Business for 17 years and – in that time – there has always been a lack of good arts fundraisers across the UK as it seems there’s never been quite enough to go around.

That problem has now increased simply because public funding is going down every year and so arts organisations need to diversify their income streams in order to survive. Of course, being a fundraiser is a specific skill, you cannot magic up some new sources of fundraising, you need to know how to do it and how to go out there and get it.

In 2012 at Arts & Business Cymru we created a new role for a Business Development Manager in our office in Cardiff. It was a great, interesting role with a good salary and we advertised nationally and in trade magazines. However, from this job we only received seven applications… we expected to be inundated as it was a great job and, economically, it was in a middle of a recession. Initially I thought the job description must have been wrong, or there was something in it which was putting people off,  but within a couple of weeks I had phone calls from five of Wales’s major arts organisations asking how our recruitment was going for a fundraiser because they too were trying to recruit but weren’t get any applications. I spoke to our sister organisation in Northern Ireland and spoke to my colleague there, Mary Trainor-Nagele, and she was experiencing exactly the same problem.

This was when we started talking about the fact that Arts & Business really had a role to play here and we needed to address this issue in the long term. We agreed straight away that the only real way to address it properly was to attract a new generation of arts graduates into a career of fundraising. We went to talk to our university partners and to their students – who were about to graduate or had graduated in the last year – and the biggest things that they were saying was that they had never considered a career in fundraising simply because it has never been pointed out to them.

The biggest things that they were saying was that they had never considered a career in fundraising simply because it has never been pointed out to them

The bigger arts organisations have development departments, so Wales Millennium Centre or Welsh National Opera would have about eight or ten people who all concentrated on fundraising. Most organisations that we deal with as Arts and Business Cymru in Wales however are very small. So somebody might do fundraising but this would be part of three other things. For example the General Manager might be responsible for fundraising, or perhaps even the Marketing Manager, so until now fundraising with smaller organisations had been something of a ‘bolted on’ job.  This cannot be the case anymore. Fundraisers need to be employed to ensure that the arts organisation is sustainable especially as public funding cannot sustain organisations anymore – or not alone anyway. They need to attract income from business and individuals, trusts and foundations.

NI Group shot

We have these four incredible graduates who are really bright, enthusiastic and intelligent. They are full of energy and they are really interested in a career in fundraising. During their ten months they have been set proper job descriptions and proper targets to meet. We purposely placed them into arts organisations that have fundraising departments so they can be mentored by expert fundraisers who have many years of experience.

Fundraisers need to be employed to ensure that the arts organisation is sustainable especially as public funding cannot sustain organisations anymore – or not alone anyway

 

They also benefit from a second mentor who is there for business help, they will help them in a wider way in terms of negotiation skills, networking skills and pitching. The young people will also, throughout the 10 months, attend all Arts and Business Cymru courses free of charge. The courses could include fundraising or how to go out and get sponsorship, individual giving and business skills the arts need like marketing, social media, HR – those courses alone are worth about a thousand pounds to each them. We are also inviting them along to our business meetings so they get to know all the movers and shakers in Cardiff and they can gain valuable experience in networking. A Project Manager has also been provided from Arts & Business who has a duty of care to them, this Project Manager will meet with them on a monthly basis to discuss their targets and assist with any problems they are having.

The aim is that after the ten months we’ll have four young people with a desire to be a fundraiser and some fantastic training to put on their CVs. The best case scenario is that the organisations decide, after putting all these resources into them, that they cannot afford to lose them and they will get jobs. We will come out with four very talented fundraisers no matter what happens.

Group Photo 3 Cymru

I would say that we have four of Wales’s best arts fundraisers working with our four interns. In the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Lucy Stout is a fundraiser with years and years of experience. She’s worked in London, she’s been the Development Director at Welsh National Opera and she has some amazing knowledge to offer a young person. Marie Wood is the Development Director at the Wales Millennium Centre, Elaina Gray is Head of Development at Chapter Arts Centre and Alison Dunnett is the Director of Development and Communications at Welsh National Opera.  I believe these ladies are four of Wales’s top fundraisers in the arts.

The Programme is something that does require a lot of time and resources but we have been very lucky to receive the support of not just the Arts Council Wales but also the Garfield Weston Foundation, Colwinston Charitable Trust and J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust.

The moment is absolutely right for this; fundraisers are needed more than ever to ensure the continued success and sustainability of the arts

My aim for next year is to roll out the programme nationally across Wales as the pilot is only based in Cardiff because that’s where the biggest arts organisations are. So my first priority is to roll the programme out right across Wales. Mary has the same ambitions for Northern Ireland as, at the moment, the programme is just running in Belfast. We have a meeting scheduled in a few weeks with our colleagues in England and Scotland – we will be definitely be persuading them to do similar work and learn from our own experience from our pilot. The moment is absolutely right for this; fundraisers are needed more than ever to ensure the continued success and sustainability of the arts. This is definitely the time we need to appeal to graduates and encourage them to achieve a career in fundraising.

Find out more about the Creative Internship Programme click here.