Dealing with crisis: creativity and resilience of arts and cultural fundraisers during Covid-19
Research from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Cultural Sector Network, RAISE: Arts, Culture & Heritage, The University of Sheffield’s Management School and the University of Kent highlights how arts and cultural fundraisers were impacted by and managed the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
This research is the result of a year-long collaborative research project that used a survey and in-depth interviews to understand the impact of Covid-19 on arts and cultural fundraisers.
The research found:
- examples of fundraisers adapting and responding to new ways of working
- taking new approaches
- changing their fundraising activities during the pandemic
- a marked rise in offering supporters enhanced digital or online activities
However, it also found that:
- almost two thirds (62%) expected their organisation’s income to fall during the pandemic
- almost two thirds of respondents (63%) reported increased workload
The interviews revealed instances of stress and poor wellbeing, followed by decreased levels of job satisfaction. There is a real risk that if staff welfare issues are not addressed, there will be a significant loss of talent from the sector with long-term consequences well beyond the pandemic.
Other key findings:
- 66% of organisations said they had postponed projects and/or programmes.
- 30% of respondents said Covid-19 would have a substantial longer term impact.
- 79% of respondents said that their fundraising activity overall has decreased.
- And 64% said financial support into 2021 and beyond was very important to the survival of the sector.
Key research findings at a glance
1. Arts and cultural fundraisers have adapted and responded to new ways of working, taking new approaches and changing their fundraising activities during the pandemic. Respondents reported increased social media and digital activity, as well as a rise in more traditional forms of fundraising such as telephone and email.
2. The primary focus for arts and cultural fundraisers was on maintaining and enhancing relationships with existing supporters. This was complemented with a marked rise in offering supporters enhanced digital or online activities and access to arts and cultural activity such as performances, exhibitions, talks.
3. When reflecting on the success of new approaches and different activity undertaken during the pandemic, a majority of respondents (55%) reported that the results had ‘met’ or ‘exceeded’ their expectations. However, despite these encouraging results on new activity, overall almost two thirds of respondents (62%) said that they expected their organisation’s income to fall during the pandemic.
4. The ongoing impact of the pandemic is having an effect on the workload and wellbeing of arts and cultural fundraisers. Almost two thirds of respondents (63%) reported increased workload, and instances of stress and wellbeing related concerns were raised during interviews, whilst levels of job satisfaction have felt to have fallen during the pandemic. There is a real risk that if staff welfare issues are not addressed, there will be a significant loss of talent from the sector.
5. Arts and cultural fundraisers would value increased training opportunities, and also feel that there needs to be enhanced government support for the arts and cultural sector with longer-term financial support into the future. Worryingly the survey highlights that some arts and heritage organisations are falling between the gaps of the emergency support available.
'Dealing with the crisis’ project was initiated in April 2020 by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising through its RAISE Steering Committee (funded by Arts Council England) and Cultural Sector Network in collaboration with a team from the Universities of Sheffield and Kent led by Dr Marta Herrero.