A year like no other in arts fundraising

8 March 2021 | By Sarah Teale

The Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Fellowship is a year-long training programme which brings together ten fundraisers from all across England, working in all different areas of the arts and cultural sectors. 

Over the Fellowship’s eight years, we have worked with incredible fundraisers at all levels of their career, and Cause4’s Pick of the Month is a great opportunity for us to check back in and hear about their journeys since the Fellowship programme. 

So, after one of the most challenging years imaginable for arts fundraisers, we wanted to take a look back over the experiences of our 2020 Fellows of the Month and share some takeaways we think might help you over the coming months.


Get yourself a fundraising network

“The best legacy of the programme is the network of my fellow Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Fellows. Having been through it together, when we get together we’re all on the same wavelength, and we’ve helped support each other through new roles, going freelance, and much more.”

Ariana Musiol - National Youth Orchestra

Every single one of our Fellows of the Month referenced the lasting network that the Fellowship gave them as part of what supported them through the year. So, whatever your level, whatever your role, one of the main things we can take away from our Fellows is: make sure you’re not going through it alone. Whether that’s through a fundraisers Facebook group, a Museums Network, or creating your own network from your friends and peers, your fundraising can only be helped by being able to share the highs and lows with others who understand you.


This includes collaboration at work

“Portfolio careers have resulted in many people falling between the cracks of furlough and the self-employment support schemes. Therefore, FACT has focused on supporting individuals by creating resources and opening ourselves up for collaboration. The Development Team sprang into action to create information for people to apply to Arts Council England Covid-19 support. We had over 750 hits across guidance documents, videos and application examples within two weeks.”

Rachael White – Liverpool Cathedral

Over the year we have seen outpourings of support from all across the sector to save venues and individuals in need. We’ve seen organisations making part or all of their offering free to freelancers who’ve been hit the hardest by the schemes and systems put in place, and funds and individuals coming together to create brand new programmes of support. This has meant we’ve found some of the most exciting new initiatives in recent years from fundraisers coming together, be that Rachael’s FACT Together or the joint crowdfunding that created the #AllOfUs programme. Collaboration has brought us together and created programmes with a lasting positive impact. 

Which brings us onto our next point…


Think laterally and you can turn adversity into innovation

“At Hospital Rooms, we've had to be incredibly inventive to survive the initial impact…

An influx of unrestricted funding from our newly developed ecommerce offering and an online auction, combined with some emergency grant funding, has enabled us to launch a Digital Art School that is live streamed into mental health units weekly… the Arts Fundraising Fellowship has given me the knowledge base and skills to think laterally in these types of situations and turn adversity into innovation!”

Niamh White – Hospital Rooms

Our Fellows shared their stories of imagination in the face of global crisis, raising the question: how can you turn this problem into an opportunity? When forced to work in certain ways in response to the pandemic, our Fellows shared stories of redeveloping ideas and finding new ways to work. Work being forced online helped them to reach new audiences, rechannelling funds to support new artists helped them form meaningful new networks, and not having traditional fundraising opportunities forced them to think outside the box. Their innovation inspired us to think, maybe every cloud really does have a silver lining.


Fundraising for arts and culture is essential

I am so inspired by my team for continuing to support families and schoolteachers during the Covid-19 epidemic. We are currently developing lots of contingency plans so that we have online and offline versions of all our programmes, in case social distancing measures should be lifted or continued…One thing is for certain though, children need creativity in their lives more than ever during this challenging time.”

Sarah Ruff – Polka Theatre

2020 was difficult, and it’s not going to be easy for a long time, but it has reinforced for a lot of the arts and cultural sector, the importance of what we do. Our Fellows have funded online music lessons for disadvantaged young people and streamed digital art schools into mental health units. Jobs this year have been harder than ever, but these activities have proved how worth it fundraisers are. 

Which leaves us with our last thought: our main lesson learned from our Fellows over the last year was their incredible positivity, pride in the work they created, and determination to look forwards. We will leave you with the words of one of them here: 

“I really hope that this period will have taught us just how important arts and culture are to our everyday lives. In fact, we all are beneficiaries of investment in arts and culture.”

Sanpreet Janjua – Awards for Young Musicians

If you want to keep up with any of the Fellows quoted in this article you can find them on twitter: Ariana Musiol @alphafoxmike@RachaelAWhite@NiamhyWhite, Sarah Ruff @Patternfight@SanpreetJ

You can find out all of the info about our Fellows on the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy website here, and keep an eye out for future Pick of the Months to learn more!

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A year like no other in arts fundraising

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