18 March 2016back

Creative Internships Blog Week 21

Clio Ryan, Artes Mundi

This week’s blog post comes at a significant point in the Creative Internship; this month marks the halfway point of our time in each respective organisation, and in many ways, I feel it offers an opportunity to reflect on my time so far at Artes Mundi.  I truly feel that I have learnt an incredible amount in the past months, and thought that I could share a tiny amount of the knowledge and experience that has been passed on to me. So here you are, my 3 top tips for prospective fundraisers!

  • Research
  • Relationships
  • Support

1.       Research:

(This involves more than one area as research will be relevant to everything you do, but I have focused on particular examples.)

It might be obvious to most, but it is of the utmost of importance that you firstly and foremost know your own organisation like the back of your hand. Know all of the activities, where your strong points lie (have you won any awards for specific projects/ departments?) where you are looking to grow, and the focus and mission statement of the organisation. If it helps to know, this can take longer than expected!

You also need to ensure that you ‘know who you are dealing with’, so to speak. If you are applying to a trust or foundation, know in explicit detail who they are and what the key areas, preferences and specialisations are. Do these match your own organisational aims or mission statement? I have learnt that it simply will not work if you attempt to force similarities for the sake of filling a funding gap. The information you find on the trust should inform how you frame your application and this is where knowing your own organisation becomes of particular use. You should know if the trusts criteria match your organisation, or whether perhaps,  it seems just right for a particular project. Always look at what they have funded previously as this will clarify any doubts you might have; if they have funded similar projects or organisations under identical criteria, then you know that it might be relevant for you.  Either way, the research you undertake will answer the question of whether you should apply to the trust or foundation at all. The same principal is applied to prospective business sponsors, individual givers and anything else- it seems obvious, but depth of research is so important.

2.       Relationships

The relationship you have with any funder is also of the utmost importance, whether that be the personal relationship you have or organisational relationship.

 A crucial step in securing any new funding is to start to grow this relationship. If you are applying to a trust or foundation you should always make the effort to form this relationship before submitting any application- while some trusts may allow you to submit un-solicited applications, whenever possible, it’s always worth starting a conversation with them before hand. Find an email contact online and begin there. Arrange to follow-up email conversations with either a meeting or alternatively, telephone call. The same applies for any other funder, slowly build this relationship and don’t rush this process!

It is also important to nurture existing relationships. It can be incredibly damaging to an organisation if this relationship is not correctly maintained and it will certainly result in funding not being renewed.

3.       Support

Finally, you should always support your arguments or applications with any and all relating material if presented the opportunity.

 If you are submitting an application to a funder, or meeting with a new sponsor or individual, always offer supporting material. Think about any literature (brochures, exhibition catalogues, evaluation reports etc.) or printed material your organisation has previously produced. Create something new if nothing already exists- try to include visuals, particularly if you are working for an organisation that specialises in the visual fields. Perhaps there are case-studies that you could use from previous similar projects. Like anything, evidence that supports your arguments or claims only increases their validity and it is always good to have bespoke ‘packs’ for those you meet with to take away and browse after the meeting has taken place. Similarly, when submitting an application, if the trust or foundation offers you the option of including additional information or supporting material, always take this opportunity to proved sometime more in-depth case-studies, visual material, or general information about your organisation’s activities. 

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