19 December 2014back

Creative Internships Blog Week 13

Lauren Webb, National Theatre Wales

Well, yesterday we had the NTW Christmas meal. We were all very spoilt with yum food and drinks and made to feel very appreciated; we were all well thanked. This took me back to a training course I attended last week about effective fundraising from audiences; there was a lot of discussion about the “value exchange” between the charity and donor. Course leader David Dixon agreed that anyone who gives to your organisation should be very well thanked and know that his or her contribution has not been taken for granted. However, in his view, and contrary to popular opinion, a broad list of benefits for donors is perhaps unnecessary.

In his extensive career David has found that people generally do not give to get benefits, but just because they want to support your work. Donors will want us to acknowledge that we have received their gift, and it is only right we thank them and make them feel appreciated. However, beyond a few updates about the progress of your work, David feels that organisations should not promise more, and then the way is open for exceeding a donor’s expectations by offering a few fun surprises throughout the year. Benefits are for customers, not donors and it should be emotional engagement of some kind that attracts support - an interesting perspective that has certainly got us talking in the development team at NTW.

I thought I would also share with you some of NTW’s work that runs alongside our productions. Over the last three years NTW has been working with communities across the nation to explore issues relevant to them, through our Big Democracy Project. With a particular focus on raising political questions amongst disadvantaged communities, through creativity and debate, these events reengage the public with the democratic process. Assembly topics are chosen by online vote and each event is delivered in an equally democratically elected location in Wales. In the past, proposals have included local issues with national importance, such as cuts and austerity measures, immigration, climate change and education.

Over the last 4 years, as a whole, we have delivered 3,349 events, engaging 170,000 people to date. Of these, 930 have been TEAM events, engaging with 9,832 participants. TEAM and also WalesLab are two of our on-going initiatives that support a network of artists across Wales. These communities of creative individuals feed into all parts of our organisation and we freely offer them mentoring, collaboration matches, help to develop their own projects and we host events to bring the network together. Throughout this interaction we also encourage individuals to run events themselves, engaging their own communities, and providing on-going creative activity across a wider spread of Wales.

Each of these projects has benefitted from our online NTW Community, which provides a digital platform for anyone who wants to connect with our network and has been operated from the beginning of NTW 5 years ago. We now have over 5,000 members from across Wales and beyond who regularly interact with each other and us; we believe a National Theatre should give the nation a chance to have its say.

With this ethos at our centre, and following on from David Dixon’s advice, I think our next step with individual giving is to speak to TEAM, our whole staff and our online Community. It would be invaluable to know what they think NTW’s value exchange around donations should look like and what they believe our case for support should be. And of course, whatever the response, NTW will make sure it thanks its supporters even more than it amazingly thanked its staff this Christmas! 

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