Fundraising on a shoestring at The Watermill Theatre, Newbury

Fundraising on a shoestring at The Watermill Theatre, Newbury

By David Dixon


The Watermill Theatre in rural Berkshire was converted in the early 1960s from a former watermill on the banks of the River Lambourn into a theatre and producing organisation. This case study by David Dixon, was first published in 2006 in Theresa Lloyd's Cultural Giving, describes how, in 2000, the theatre appointed its first professional fundraiser and by 2006 fundraising income had increased five-fold and The Watermill had also launched a £3 million capital appeal.

Learning points

  • It is possible to raise large amounts of money with relatively limited budgets 
  • However, a strategic approach is needed, taking a view over several years
  • The key to fundraising success lies in the development and management of personal relationships 
  • Good administration is essential for any kind of fundraising 
  • Some elements of fundraising can be outsourced, in this case telephone fundraising and ‘routine’ trust applications 
  • The main Board of The Watermill was hesitant over the Appeal and a separate Appeal Board was essential. Members of the Appeal Board are now joining the main Board which lends authority to the Appeal Board and increases the confidence of the main Board.
Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2014