Georgina Brown working with a group during an NAFS session.

In this blog, Georgina Brown, Arts Fundraising Fellow with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, shares her thoughts on The National Arts Fundraising School 2014.

GeorginaBrownSet in the idyllic Sussex countryside, the Deans Place Hotel opened its arms in April to welcome an eclectic mix of arts fundraisers to live and breathe fundraising for six challenging days. A week at the National Arts Fundraising School (NAFS), delivered by The Management Centre, is a completely immersive experience. Arts and money have in the past had a notorious reputation as polar opposites, but in the current climate of cuts, the arts industry has to find people who can combine the two. For an industry famous for its imagination, I can hear you say “innovative ideas to fundraise should be easy!” It may not be easy but NAFS is the ideal place to grow those ideas. Fundraising for the arts has the capacity to use creativity and this is one approach that, in my opinion, could help us stand out from other charitable causes.

With participants travelling the length and breadth of the UK, as well as from different countries, to take part in the school you learn as much from your fellow fundraisers as you do from the school tutors. The participants varied hugely in experience and background with all positions represented, from four South West Fundraising and Philanthropy Fellows, to Marketing Officers, Development Managers , Directors and Chief Executives in addition to representation from both the Arts and British Councils.

The days were intensive as we covered sessions on strategy writing, corporate engagement and individual giving; legacies, digital fundraising and trusts and foundations; EU funding, presentation skills -the list is seemingly endless and so are the possibilities. Underpinning the learning was an interactive element that meant every participant had the opportunity to test their new skills, through a corporate pitching exercise, with a receptive audience and constructive feedback before putting it into practice in the real world, without the safety net of The Management Centre’s excellent support.

Personally, NAFS reiterated the importance of fundraisers being fully integrated within an organisation; a fundraiser must have all the knowledge to be able to answer any question thrown at them and have the connections within an organisation to find a solution to any problem. I left NAFS with an arsenal of fundraising tactics I can deploy when the time is right. The school teaches you both where to look and how to ask while providing you with ideas you can take away and implement immediately.

The three golden rules of the week, and of fundraising, are:

  • Be ready! You never know when an opportunity may arise and you need to accept immediately.
  • Be confident! You have a moral responsibility for where the money goes; each and every donor must have trust in you.
  • Be communicative! Why should this money be given to you?

Fundraising for the arts has never been more vital to the future of the industry. The National Arts Fundraising School encapsulated the strengths that we already have in the sector and helped me understand what the next steps could be. We need to work to grow what we have by looking at the positives rather than the negatives, and be unafraid of trying a new approach. If an organisation grows from its strengths, the sky really is the limit.

Georgina Brown,
Arts Fundraising Fellow,
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

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