The National Arts Fundraising School programme

Day 1 Overview

Day 1 is a day to get to know each other and scope out the issues we hope to address over the week. As a focus we’ll share the results of the online pre-programme survey allowing everyone to see how we’ve tailored the timetable and topics. We’ll then move on to two challenging sessions. First we’ll explore the key principles at the heart of all great fundraising. Then we’ll move quickly onto the underlying strategic model that will shape the 6 days – ensuring everything we do offers long-term pay offs. It’s a busy first day, finishing around 18.30 when you’ll be ready for a delicious dinner and complimentary wine.


Please arrive to check in for the programme between 12 and 12.30 – sandwiches and refreshments will be available. If you arrive earlier enjoy the village or the grounds of the hotel.

Welcome & Key Principles

  • intros
  • aims
  • ground-rules
  • key fundraising principles
  • your value proposition

Strategy Approach 1

  • 7 stage =mc strategy model
  • creating case statements
  • analysing your situation

Strategy Approach 2

  • fundraising cycles
  • identifying sources
  • developing propositions

Day 2 Overview

Day 2 continues the strategic theme exploring how to ask for support – and then ensure donors’ needs and interests are satisfied so they’ll make a long-term commitment. We then move on to explore trusts & foundations, sharing a model for securing grants that’s raised £1M in a single application. The afternoon takes us off in a new direction, exploring the emerging new trends in corporate giving. This area has reduced significantly in recent years, but still forms an important part of any fundraising strategy. We’ll explore what’s working and what’s not to promote corporate engagement.

Strategy Approach 3

  • sources: trends and typology
  • making the ask: do’s and don’ts
  • maintaining relationships

Trusts & Foundations

  • understanding foundations
  • writing problem statements
  • structuring winning proposals

Corporate Engagement 1


  • the corporate spectrum
  • characteristics of sponsorship
  • key trends in corporate giving

Corporate Engagement 2

  • hygiene factors and motivators
  • key tactics for sponsorship
  • pricing projects & legal issues

Day 2

Day 3 Overview

Continuing on the theme of individual giving, we will take you through some key concepts like the donor pyramid, the donor wedge, supporter journeys, recency/frequency/value analysis and more. Other tools will help you to maximise individual giving for your theatre or community arts company. The afternoon focuses on a major new area for the arts – individual giving, and begins with sessions on working with major donors and winning them over. We’ll look especially at the skills you need to be comfortable engaging with high net worth individuals (HNWI). The final session introduces the major case study on sponsorship and you’ll be allocated to a project team.

Individual Giving 1

  • relationship fundraising ideas
  • supporters as donors
  • supporter journey

Individual Giving 2

  • building relationships
  • creating donor journeys
  • ‘super clubbing’ strategies

Major Donors 1

  • what is a major donor?
  • engaging major donors
  • managing relationships

Major Donors 2

  • building relationships
  • stewardship strategies
  • supporter influencing skills

Sponsorship case study

  • small group work on case
  • developing ideas
  • matching to donor need

Day 4 Overview

Wednesday begins with time to look at particular topics/challenges relevant to your organisation that aren’t already covered by the programme, and share knowledge with your fellow participants. You’ll then be joined by our guest speaker Dr. Claire Routley for a session on what should be an essential part of every cultural organisation’s portfolio – legacy giving. The afternoon is devoted to a major skills session on presenting ideas and asking for money face-to-face. This module gives you all the skills you will need to handle yourself in tough situations. You all finish the day going back into your project team to carry on with the case study already distributed. The evening normally involves small group work preparing for the next day’s exercise. You’ll have access to two Management Centre coaches providing you with support and help to produce the best possible project.

Share and Compare

  • challenges and successes
  • sharing key learning
  • review of fundraising materials

Making Legacies Count

  • types of legacy
  • key audiences & motivators
  • marketing legacies

Communication Skills 1

  • pitching for financial support
  • building supporter confidence
  • key skills personal impact

Communication Skills 2

  • building rapport with supporters
  • reinforcing key messages
  • creating personal credibility

Sponsorship case study

  • small group work on case
  • developing your proposition
  • matching sponsor needs

Day 4

Day 5 Overview

We start work early today at 8.30am. Each of six teams will make a Dragon’s Den-style pitch on video to a target company. Each of the teams will then be offered private coaching to help improve how you come across to donors, how best to ask for money and targeting your proposals. After lunch we take a look at the future of online engagement. The afternoon finishes with a chance to explore how to successfully run a major capital appeal or an endowment – and the different tactics needed for such projects. In the evening we change gear with a special celebration dinner and then a fun social event to relax after an intense but useful day.

Video Case Study

  • video presentation exercise
  • observation and review
  • action-learning from case study

Feedback and Review

  • team feedback and coaching


  • research opportunities


  • review and action plan

Digital Fundraising

  • digital channels: +/-
  • engaging donors online
  • case studies

Major Campaigns

  • endowments & campaigns
  • key campaign stages
  • building on campaigns

Case study: the challenge for touring companies

  • reviewing distinct challenges
  • ETO & Glyndebourne
  • Q&A

Day 5

Day 6 Overview

Your final morning begins by exploring how to turn the six days of learning on the school into a written strategy that you can share with senior managers or your board. Finally we look at tackling any remaining questions from the week and then move on to concrete action plans based on your own specific needs and interests. Before we go =mc staff are available to help you with your journey home after an exhausting but exhilarating week.

Strategy Review

  • deciding strategy direction
  • building resilience
  • deciding priorities

Writing a strategy

  • writing a fundraising strategy
  • applying the =mc strategy model
  • sharing key ideas

Personal Action Planning

  • questions & challenges
  • outline organisational plan
  • identify development needs

Close and Depart:

We’ll end the day with lunch and then you can begin the journey home. We encourage you to stay until 13.15 at least and plan your departure after that

Day 6

To help you get the most out of the six days:

  • Come with an open mind about yourself and your abilities. Come, too, with an open mind about your organisation and its fundraising potential.
  • The dress code on the programme is smart-casual – but please bring more formal ‘business’ clothes for the sponsorship pitch exercise on Thursday morning.
  • Try not to bring any additional work with you. You’ll be very busy – we promise – the whole time.
  • There is formal evening work on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Make sure you let your colleagues know this.

This programme may change based on the feedback from the online questionnaires and in response to needs through the week.


Beth Bate,

Director, Great North Run Culture

Key modules

Over six intensive, challenging days you will increase your knowledge of the spectrum of different funding sources including: individual giving; major donors, and legacies; trusts and foundations; individual giving; and commercial sponsorship.

The programme includes intensive sessions on a range of topics such as endowments, capital campaigns, legacy fundraising, and the role of digital fundraising. All the sessions are delivered by =mc’s experienced team and expert fundraising guest speakers.

This is not cookie cutter training. Every NAFS programme is adapted and flexed depending on the results from our extensive pre-programme questionnaire, which we ask you to complete before attending. This year we also have a number of updated modules.

“I would strongly recommend the National Arts Fundraising School. It’s very comprehensive – covering all aspects of fundraising, is excellently structured and left me feeling incredibly inspired.”

Poetry books

Nicola Wheldrake,

Marketing & Development Manager,
The Poetry Archive


Developing a fundraising strategy

At the core of the School is a major emphasis on how to develop a strategic approach to fundraising. Over three linked modules we’ll look at various tools to help you analyse your market position and develop a real focus on where the high pay off streams are.

Principles of fundraising

Successful fundraising is underpinned by a number of key principles which need to be applied consistently. These principles are drawn from disciplines as varied as psychology, sociology and marketing. We’ll share them with you here and show how to apply them in practical fundraising sessions.

Researching sources

To succeed in fundraising you need to understand how to research sources both on and offline. You’ll be introduced to donor research techniques beyond simply looking at the standard books and databases and find out the pros and cons of different approaches.


Maximising major donors

Despite the unstable financial climate major donors are still able to make a massive difference to many cultural agencies. This session explores how to identify and engage with major donors – the fastest growing source of philanthropic funds – and you’ll have the chance to consider whether to approach them directly or through your Board.

Choosing a fundraising structure

Often the way you’re organised – legally and from a people perspective – can make a massive difference to your ability to attract funds. We’ll look at the options available and help you establish the best structure for success.


Supporter journeys and stewardship

If you’re going to be successful in the individual donor space you need to have a supporter journey and a stewardship strategy. These complementary tactics shape how you can align the whole organisation around fundraising and support for donors.

Making the ask

How confident are you at asking major donors and senior company managers for money? This session offers skills and tactics which will allow you to influence others in one to one settings. You’ll get personal feedback on your impact.

Raising money for local authorities

If you’re a local authority there are specific challenges you have to face in fundraising. We’ll explore how to work with these challenges efficiently – making your work attractive and engaging to donors and funders.


Social media and online fundraising

Is this the next big thing or… a diversion? This session offers an insight into what is working in social media terms and how you can make the web worker harder for you –promoting donor and potential donor engagement.


Making an impact with donors

This session offers you the practical opportunity to actually ‘pitch’ for money in front of a video camera and then get detailed feedback on the effectiveness of your ask. Before the pitch the =mc coach will offer insights and practical tips on how to make an impact.

Foundation fundraising

Trusts and foundations contribute up to £2B to the UK charity economy with significant sums committed to arts, education, culture and heritage. But to secure this you have to understand how foundations work and how to approach them. We’ll share the 7 steps to success.


Commercial investment

From ‘hard’ sponsorship to CSR: companies are still investing in the arts. But the money is proving tougher to get. Over two modules we show you how to maximise your chances of sponsorship success – and how to turn one-off success into a long-term relationship.


Major appeals and how to run them

At some point in your fundraising career you’ll have to run a major appeal for a major project – an endowment or capital project. This session explains how to use the donor pyramid, donor wedge and gift tables as key frameworks to guide you to success.

Behavioural economics and psychology

Understand how your donors make decisions and the implications this has for us as fundraisers.


Setting up and managing a development board

Volunteers can be a huge resource for you – helping bring contacts and ideas to the table. But these development boards need careful management and a clear brief. We’ll explore how to recruit to such a board and how to keep them on track.

Making your case

Often the only way you can communicate with a funder or donor is in written form. We’ll share the results of =mc’s research which shows that structuring your proposal differently can increase your chances of fundraising success by up to 25 per cent.



Does crowdfunding really work for the arts? We’ll look at examples of what works and what doesn’t work – helping you to avoid expensive mistakes.



One of the fastest growing areas for arts and cultural agencies to secure funds is legacies – and if you have an older audience they can be a major source of support. But how do you create a legacy programme without seeming to cold and calculating? We’ll show you the key steps.

Touring and non-venue based organisations

What are the challenges for organisations that don’t have access to ticket data and how can we overcome them?

Writing a fundraising plan

So you’ve got lots of strategic thoughts, and some good ideas, but how do you shape them into an investable plan that you can share with senior managers or the Board? In this module we identify the key structures that will enable you to write a plan to win support internally.

Action planning

The final module of the week will help you crystalise the key learning and identify specific steps to take to ensure the learning is turned into practical action back at work. You’ll have the chance to buddy up with a fellow participant to seek help and support when you return to work.

Birmingham Hippodrome Phantom

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Our next programme runs 11-16 November 2018

Prices held for 2018: £1950 + VAT.
We even have a money-back guarantee!

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