Accessibility Tools

06 June 2024

The Fundraising Landscape: Embracing collaboration over competition

It feels like securing funds for our arts and heritage projects is more challenging than ever.

Funders continue to share they have limited financial resources but are receiving higher numbers of funding applications than ever before.

It might feel more competitive out there – but our recent work with newly appointed Hub Lead Organisation for Leicester and Leicestershire, Leicestershire Music showed that developing fundraising strategies with collaboration at their heart could be the way forward. Organisations that collaborate with others on their fundraising can better pool resources, consider the collective impact of their work on a bigger scale and take comfort in working with a strong network of mission-driven people.

But does this collaborative approach make us any less competitive as organisations who need funding?

The benefits of being collaborative with other organisations in our fundraising endeavours are clear:

Being resourceful: By collaborating, we can share resources such as fundraising expertise, tools and networks. We can leverage the strengths and expertise of others.

Increased Impact: We can achieve better outcomes for those we want to support when working together. We can explore sharing data, knowledge and skills resulting in projects that benefit more people and could address complex issues that could be challenging if trying to tackle them on our own.

Networks: We can tap into each other’s networks and benefit from new connections that might be difficult to establish on our own.

Strength in partnership: Funders often ask, ‘Who are your partners? Who are you working with?’ A partnership approach demonstrates buy in and credibility. Collaborative projects presented to funders are more robust and sustainable – and arguably achieve a better legacy.

Reach: Working together allows for a wider reach of audiences or participants, making projects more appealing to funders who are interested in large-scale impact.

Inclusivity: A partnership featuring organisations of different sizes, leadership approaches, backgrounds and areas of expertise can bring together a range of voices and innovative approaches in tackling social issues that organisations seek to address.

Are there challenges? Of course…

Clarity of roles and responsibilities: From the outset, there should be honest discussions about who might be best to lead an application or manage a project. Being clear on roles and responsibilities in the design of proposals will be crucial to ensure that any differing priorities or working styles can be addressed at the start of the collaboration, and clarified before funding is secured.

Be honest about capacity: Collaborative proposals might involve organisations that range in size and scope. It is important to consider risk and issues in delivery and how best to utilise the expertise of the organisations involved – particularly when involving smaller entities who can bring so much expertise but might not have the capacity to manage complex grants and the associated workload.

Agree shared goals: In collaborative approaches, it is understandable that organisations might be protective over their missions and goals and how these might feel compromised in collaborative proposals. Agreeing a shared goal that is specific to the project and that is shared with all participating organisations can help to recognise what each organisation brings to the project and help to protect and preserve aspects of individuality.

From a funder’s viewpoint, collaboration can be highly attractive. Funders often explain that in assessing applications, there is an element of balancing their portfolios and ensuring that their investments can achieve the highest possible impact across multiple variables. In the eyes of funders, collaborative fundraising approaches might be perceived as addressing problems more holistically, being more inclusive and even presenting innovative ways of delivering projects. It can be less risky than supporting multiple individual projects.

While finding funding is becoming tougher and might feel more competitive, let’s embrace collaboration over competition. As they say, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Instead of viewing other organisations as competitors, consider that working together could achieve more impact.

If you are interested in developing or refreshing your fundraising strategy, get in touch with Jo Dacombe – Jo@artreach.org.uk, Head of Consultancy, to consider how Art Reach can support you.

A man and a woman are on a stage, they are wearing black outfits, they appear to be using some carrots like musical instruments.

The Vegetable Orchestra of Vienna perform at Re/action Festival 2023 (Pete Martin Photography)

A man and a woman are on a stage, they are wearing black outfits, they appear to be using a pumpkin and some carrots like musical instruments.

The Vegetable Orchestra of Vienna perform at Re/action Festival 2023 (Pete Martin Photography)

On a black stage are some speakers and some chairs in the background, in the foreground are some cabbages attached to a foot pedal, like a guitar!

The Vegetable Orchestra of Vienna perform at Re/action Festival 2023 (Pete Martin Photography)

Vegetable instruments on a tray.

The Vegetable Orchestra of Vienna perform at Re/action Festival 2023 (Pete Martin Photography)

A group of musicians performing with vegetables on an outdoor stage.

The Vegetable Orchestra of Vienna perform at Re/action Festival 2023 (Image by Art Reach)