Arts Council England‘s evaluation from the first year of the three-year Catalyst Evolve shows how the programme is helping organisations in the early stages of fundraising to achieve a step change in their ability to earn money from private giving. Written and prepared by BOP Consulting.
In November 2016, Arts Council England commissioned BOP Consulting to conduct an independent evaluation of Catalyst: Evolve, a programme dedicated to unlocking philanthropy and supporting organisations with a limited track record of fundraising. This report is the second written output of the evaluation, covering research between April and September 2017.
Our research has identified three fundraising activity stages. These stages tend to be sequential and their progressive uptake indicates the fundraising readiness of grantees. The stages include:
- Identity, capacity and governance: including working to refine the mission and vision of the organisation, increasing fundraising capacity and expertise as well as general awareness of fundraising among other members of staff, including the Board of Trustees. A large group of grantees carried out these kinds of activities, which generated positive organisational developments. This was with the exception of recruitment: some grantees found it challenging to attract fundraising professionals, especially grantees located in the North and in the Midlands. Increasing hands-on support from the Board of Trustees has also been a learning process.
- Research and communication: including reviewing and refining external messaging to promote the organisation externally, elaborating a clear and coherent narrative, strengthening the brand of the organisation, and identifying prospect networks. A medium-sized group of grantees has progressed towards these activities, which have usually worked well, placing organisations in the position to approach donors and make the ask.
- Making the ask and cultivation: including organising fundraising events and campaigns, forging new relationships, making the ask, negotiating and cultivating donors. A smaller group of Catalyst: Evolve grantees has focused on these activities. Organisations in this group typically had a stronger track record in fundraising and/or took part in the previous Catalyst round and/or are based in London.
The evaluation also explores good practice in private fundraising and through the accompanying case studies and two-part podcast we are sharing those findings to facilitate peer to peer learning and promote knowledge and expertise about arts fundraising and private giving.
Watch the case study videos (Manchester Jazz Festival and Poet in the City share their fundraising lessons) and listen to the podcasts (Richard Naylor, Director of Research at BOP Consulting leads a discussion with Caroline McCormick, Director of Achates Philanthropy and Clare Titley, Director of Philanthropy at Arts Council England about arts fundraising in the UK and the learning so far from Catalyst Evolve.).