Knowledge Centre Blog

Fundraising Fellowship Ireland – Thoughts from John Mc Evoy, Development & Marketing Executive, Druid

Business to Arts Picture Conor McCabe

In June 2018, I attended the first Fundraising Fellowship Ireland seminar as part of my two-year Fellowship. From this first seminar I knew immediately that the following 2 years were going to be instrumental in helping me to strategically improve all aspects of my fundraising activities for Druid. Druid’s aims for participating in the FFI programme were to:

  • Develop our fundraising skills and expertise
  • Look to diversify our income stream to build long-term sustainability
  • Build upon our existing supporter base through improving on-going relationships
  • Develop new partnerships among local and national businesses and corporates
  • Build individual philanthropic connections that will make a significant difference to our work

I had originally joined Druid, in a part-time development and marketing role, 12 months previously. Being new to both the arts and to fundraising, meant that there was much on-the-job learning to be done. My only previous fundraising experience had been a week-long residential course on Arts Fundraising in the UK prior to joining Druid. When I joined, I set about putting what I had learned into practice and building on what had been started previously within Druid. Although progress was being made, it took some time to learn how to be more focused and task orientated in a role that, by its nature, takes patience and a rigorously strategic approach.

And this was where the Fundraising Fellowship came to the fore. From the very beginning we were tasked, at each seminar, with presenting various aspects of our respective organizations: the structure; board; brand; strategic plans; a SWOT analysis, our fundraising strategy as it existed; marketing plans etc. This helped us to better understand our organisations and to more cohesively hone our fundraising message and story over time. It became clear that we were not fundraising in a vacuum but were doing so in a manner that impacted on all aspects of our organisations as well as our audience, our collaborators and our supporters. Feedback was given on all presentations and the workshops helped us to further develop our skills and expand our fundraising knowledge in key areas such as corporate sponsorship, prospecting and developing a cohesive fundraising strategy.

Through 2018 Druid has substantially increased its income from businesses and corporates and we have successfully developed our International Friends programme through fundraising initiatives around a US tour of our production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. We are currently developing plans to grow our support from individuals through enhancing our Friends and Transformational Partners offerings. We are also finalising a number of multi-annual Project Sponsorship Opportunities for businesses and corporates, where we are seeking to build Strategic Partnerships around: Touring; New Writing; Mainstage Productions; and the Druid Ensemble.

I am looking forward to the next 18 months of mentorship from the Business to Arts team and their various guests and experts. A key element of the programme will be to develop, over time, a cohesive and flexible Development and Fundraising Strategy that will act as a blueprint for all of Druid’s fundraising activities into the future.

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