Knowledge Centre Blog

Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin: Fishamble, Director Report Year 1

Business to Arts Picture Conor McCabe PhotographyBy Jim Culleton, Artistic Director

It is almost a year since Fishamble began as a partner on the Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin – Business to Arts’ New Stream programme in partnership with Dublin City Council’s Dublin Culture Connects.  We were thrilled to appoint Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan as our Fellow, to join our small core team.  Her role as Marketing & Fundraising Executive has completely transformed Fishamble’s ability to reach its marketing potential and to generate sponsorship relationships, as well as developing our Friends’ programme.

Chandrika’s contract and KPIs include targets in relation to marketing Fishamble’s productions, on tour, throughout Ireland and internationally.  They also include targets for increasing Fishamble’s Friends’ scheme, and these targets have been met, with our ‘family’ of supporters growing steadily.  From the FFD seminars, we learned a great deal about focusing our message and conveying it in a concise, clean way. We used these learnings to create a brand new website, a new newsletter for followers and Friends, a variety of sponsorship collateral, a 30thYear document, and a new corporate membership programme. We will be working with Publicis in creating a rebrand of production artwork to support out institutional marketing strategies. We also held two major events that complemented our institutional marketing: a 30th birthday event to launch A Play for Ireland [APFI] and a New Play Conference, with national and international delegates.

One of the main targets, of course, is to secure sponsorship, and generate relationships with companies, which would be mutually beneficial for them and us.  I am delighted that these goals are being met. Publicis Ireland is confirmed as a continuing sponsor of the company, and Tesco Ireland, Irish Rail, and ICLA are all confirmed, so far, as sponsors for Fishamble’s two-year APFI initiative, which is developing 30 new plays, in association with 6 venues, across the country.

This sponsorship has been secured with the help and guidance of Business to Arts, and Fishamble’s board members, who gave their wholehearted commitment to helping us identify possible suitable partners, through a prospecting process.  They shared their contacts, to introduce us to people from those companies we identified, and began our discussion about what relationships might be possible.  In securing our current sponsorship deals, some of our key learnings have been:

  • Realising the importance of a clear message and acting quickly on what works. e.g. marketing documents, Fishamble’s new website, previous sponsorship relationships;
  • Prospecting through Board members and Mentors has been hugely beneficial, with their generous sharing of connections and resources;
  • Knowing that if you don’t ask, you don’t get: once we started actively asking, we got engagement very quickly;
  • Remembering that we have a lot of offer, for good value, to sponsors; careful consideration of how to frame this has helped us secure sponsorships.

On this last point, we have enjoyed working with sponsors to give added value to the relationship, for instance: celebrating Tesco Ireland’s sponsorship by catering events, launches and conferences with Tesco Finest refreshments; running a course on team building and making pitches with employees of Publicis Ireland.

Over the next 12 months, we imagine some of the main challenges we will encounter as part of the Fellowship programme are:

  • Time management: with APFI and productions for 2019/20 already at the planning stages, we will need to continue with meetings and prospecting, as well as marketing tasks;
  • 2020-2021 plans: beginning discussions with potential sponsors on suitable projects in the future;
  • Maintaining existing and new sponsor relations;
  • Developing a stronger Friends recruitment plan.

The Senior Management Team and Board are committed to helping Chandrika to overcome these challenges, by discussing ways we can help, exploring how our artistic plans can generate mutually beneficial relationships for Fishamble and our sponsors, and providing support for prospecting, meetings, and creating proposals.

We are very grateful for the support of the FFD, which has made all this work possible. More information about Fishamble’s fundraising and communications objectives can be found here: http://www.fishamble.com/support-us

 Jim Culleton

Artistic Director

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