Catalyst Evaluation Year 3

Catalyst Evaluation Year 3

By BOP Consulting


BOP Consulting's third Arts Council England Catalyst evaluation explores whether the programme has helped to develop a long-term culture shift in organisations towards fundraising.

Executive summary

In April 2014, BOP Consulting was commissioned by Arts Council England to undertake the evaluation of their Catalyst programme. Catalyst was a £100 million culture sector-wide private giving investment scheme aimed at helping arts organisations to diversify their income streams and to access more funding from private sources. It was made up of investment from Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Arts Council England's total investment in the scheme amounted to £70 million, including a commissioned grant of £2 million allocated to the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy training programme. The programme closed in August 2015. The evaluation was longitudinal and ran until after the end of the programme, to November 2016. This report is the final published output from the evaluation.

Background and aims of the programme

Fundraising from private sources, philanthropy and endowments has long been understood as an important income-raising approach in the American arts and cultural sector and in other UK charity sectors. However, awareness of this has only relatively recently gained traction within the English arts and cultural sector. For Arts Council England, the Catalyst scheme represents one of the key measures that it is putting in place to 'help create a more sustainable, resilient and innovative arts sector'.

The Catalyst programme consists of three 'tiers', each with differing processes and emphases, and aimed at organisations with differing levels of existing practice and expertise in engaging in philanthropy and fundraising. The aims of the programme are to:

  • build the capacity and ability of arts organisations to fundraise
  • incentivise giving to the arts, particularly from new donors
  • contribute to an increase in the diversification of income sources, thereby increasing arts organisations' resilience
  • support a long-term culture change/shift in arts organisations towards fundraising


The evaluation undertook a mixed method approach, which included:

  • interviews with stakeholders
  • a literature review of arts philanthropy in the UK
  • in-depth interviews with donors, covering a range of trusts and foundations, as well as high net worth individuals (HNWIs)
  • interviews with all Tier 1 organisations and a number of Tier 1 supporters
  • qualitative case studies with 31 Tier 2 and 3 Catalyst recipients
  • qualitative case studies with 5 non-Catalyst organisations that had applied to the Catalyst programme but were unsuccessful, in order to explore the counterfactual
  • 2 detailed national online surveys of Catalyst beneficiaries in Year 1 and Year 3
  • data gathered from 4 national learning events with Catalyst grantees in Year 1 and Year 3
  • an analysis of Arts Council England management data for Tier 1 and Tier 2, both descriptive statistics and regression analysis

Summary of key findings from Year 1 and 2

The Year 1 evaluation explored how Catalyst grantees were building their fundraising capacity and expertise. Our research identified a specific set of actions and activities that grantees were undertaking, but also the more structural changes that were being made to organisations' governance, processes and strategies.

Overall, findings from Year 1 suggested that the programme acted, as its name suggests, as a catalyst. The funding support gave the organisations the confidence to try new pathways and experiment with new tools and strategies, and it greatly de-risked the experimentation process. Catalyst contributed towards making the case internally for fundraising within arts organisations and this contributed to increased internal resources, skills and capacity. As a result, most organisations approached new donors and the share of overall revenues accounted for by private giving increased incrementally to 12 per cent.

Year 2 findings provided further evidence of these benefits, adding more depth and nuance to our findings and shedding greater light on the financial impact of the programme. The financial analysis of private income raised by grantees in Year 2 suggested that, while not all Tier 1 and 2 organisations had met their financial targets for match funding, significant sums had been raised (£49.5 million across the programme) - such that they were slightly in excess of how much the Arts Council had invested in the beneficiary organisations (£48.5 million).

Year 2 also showed that larger organisations are more likely to be able to raise greater sums of private giving income. However, the same analysis provided only some empirical support to previous evidence that suggests that being based in London is associated with a greater ability to raise private giving income. The results were not unequivocal and in fact there were some that challenged the conclusion that 'geography is destiny'. Instead, the evaluation results for the Catalyst grantees suggest that there are still improvements that can be made in terms of internal organisational factors that will increase the ability of arts organisations outside London and the South East to fundraise.

Finally, both the Year 1 and Year 2 evaluation reports documented how the match funding element of both Tier 1 and Tier 2 was widely welcomed. It made it more attractive for donors to give (both new and existing ones), at the same time as organisations were improving their ask. In this way, it provided forward momentum to the organisations' fundraising efforts, creating the best possible conditions for them to succeed.

Summary of key findings from Year 3

Year 3 focused on assessing the degree to which the fourth aim of the programme was achieved, namely whether Catalyst has helped to develop a long-term culture change/shift in organisations towards fundraising.

The findings of this year's evaluation are largely positive in this respect. Catalyst has left a sustainable legacy for most organisations, which is likely to last into the medium if not long term (which is always harder to assess as it is further away).

Download the report to read on:
Arts Council England Evaluation of Catalyst Year 3

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Catalyst Fundraising
Resource type: Research | Published: 2017