If you work in an arts or cultural organisation in England then you’ve probably noticed that the funding landscape has changed significantly over the last few years. Funders responded to the pandemic by re-focusing or even pausing their available grants, and many funders have changed how they work as a result. Meanwhile, the main lottery distributors have also changed their application processes, in line with the launch of their new strategies and adjusted priorities.
It can be a shock for organisations that had plans or were used to ways of working with funders, which have been shaken up in recent years. There was a significant shift in organisations who have traditionally received regular funding from Arts Council England through their National Portfolio, some decisions being quite controversial. Local authorities are also experiencing the squeeze on their finances, and we know organisations who have lost contracts that they have held with local authorities over many years as a result. So, if your usual way of funding your work has changed or is no longer there, how else can you fund your work?
Over the last year, our consultants have been supporting several organisations in the sector to review and re-scope their business plans, to find new ways forward in the context of all this change. You can read some of our recent case studies below but first…
Here are some ideas about how you might rethink how you fund your work:
- Balance your business model. Look at the balance of revenue-generating and loss-making strands of work in your organisation. Is there a way that one can become a source of subsidy for the other? Look at ways to maximise successful income streams, and to develop new ones, which can then support those areas of work which are close to your heart and your mission, but which may never become profitable on their own.
- Seek out Trusts and Foundations. Over the last few years, new charities have appeared which aim to distribute funds. As they are new, they are not yet well known and so could be a good place to go to ask for funds, before they get very competitive – but they can be hard to find! Use databases such as Grant Finder, Charity Excellence Framework and Get Grants to find those new charities. Usually they only fund registered charities, so do check your organisation’s eligibility before going down this route.
- Donors. If you have membership schemes, friends schemes or donors, how aware are they of your current situation? When was the last time you asked them to donate a little more than their regular gift? Have you communicated to them why you might need to request more? Often, donors who already support you are happy to help a little more but might not realise you need it!
- Run a charity fundraiser! Research over the last few years has shown that activity-based events such as sponsored challenges are becoming more popular to harness the support of those who could fundraise for you. This could work if your organisation is a charity and especially if you have a specific target income to achieve towards a project, like a building upgrade or a festival.
- Corporate schemes. Build relationships with corporations who might share your interests or mission. Businesses that are local to your work are often a good place to start. Find out what businesses want to achieve for their social responsibility aims and think about how your work might align with these aims and make a pitch to them!
Our consultancy team continues to work with organisations large and small to support ideas for raising core and project funding for a variety of needs, whether that be helping develop business plans and long-term visions, developing fundraising strategies or writing funding applications.
We’re leading an online workshop in December that will offer clarity about and useful insights when making your applications with the new lottery funding processes. Join us on 14 December, 2.00pm-4.00pm – reserve your space here: How to get lottery funding
Here are some examples of our recent work:
Our Cultural Strategy for Nuneaton and Bedworth was launched recently, read more here.
We’ve just been commissioned to develop a Culture Strategy for the Royal Borough of Greenwich, read more here.
We’ve been working with Milton Keynes Islamic Arts and Culture for many years, see how long-term relationships benefit organisational development by reading more here.
We’ve also been working with Leon Bosch, conductor and soloist director, virtuoso double bass soloist, writer and broadcaster. Read more about our fundraising work with Leon here.
Contact us today to see how our team can help with fundraising strategies, cultural development initiatives, business planning, evaluation processes or professional development.
Say hello by emailing Jo@artreach.org.uk