Knowledge Centre Blog

Fundraising Fellowship Ireland – Year 1 Thoughts From Catherine Hearn, Development Officer, Music Network

Catherine Hearne

It’s hard to believe I’ve completed one year as a Fundraising Fellow. The past 12 months have been challenging yet profoundly rewarding, as I worked closely with my colleagues at Music Network and with Business to Arts on capacity building, networking, grant applications, public fundraising campaigns, and many other aspects of the role.

One hugely exciting and personally treasured project has been the Music Network Grade-1-a-thon. The Grade-1-a-thon is a fundraising challenge, whereby we invited participants of all ages to learn a new musical instrument to Grade 1 level. Participants ask friends and family for sponsorship and all the money raised through the campaign goes directly toward Music Network’s Instruments for Older People Appeal. For the challenge, we teamed up with the Royal Irish Academy of Music so that participants could take their RIAM Grade 1 exams free of charge. I decided to participate in the challenge myself, and so I started learning the trumpet in February 2021. Going through the whole process means I can speak from personal experience when I extol the benefits and joys of taking up music as an adult, which is something Music Network has been advocating strongly for.

The second major project I’ve been working on is the Music Network Touring Van. We’re currently fundraising for a new vehicle that can ferry our musicians all around Ireland once our live touring programme kicks off in the Autumn. We received the fantastic news in January 2021 that one of our Friends is generously donating €30,000 toward the cost of the new vehicle. I’m now focused on securing the balance. I’m working with our board to identify and align with prospects who are interested in investing in live music access. It’s an exciting project, with lots of scope for creativity and collaborative thinking, and very tangible benefits for sponsors.

That generous donation from one of our Friends is emblematic of the kind of support and trust that our stakeholders and Friends place in Music Network. As one put it, ‘everyone who knows Music Network loves Music Network.’ With this in mind, I’ve dedicated a lot of time to building our Friends programme and strengthening relationships with our existing network. Since I started, we’ve seen a 400% growth in our Friends programme, with many enthusiastic new members and a deeper level of engagement from our established Friends.

None of the above work would be possible without sustained support from both my brilliant team at Music Network, and from Business to Arts. The mentorship that they provide has fostered my professional and personal growth. I was privileged to be connected with mentors, Rowena Neville and John McGrane. Both have generously spent time mentoring me on creative solutions to barriers that I’ve encountered, and helping me to grow my own network. Their expertise and insights have proved invaluable as I navigate this industry, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. While challenges will no doubt continue to abound, Music Network is a hugely innovative organisation and we can’t wait to be back on stage. I’m tremendously excited to experience our concerts first hand, and of course to invite potential new partners to share in the joy of live performance with us. If you would like to find out more about how you can support Music Network, please feel free to connect.

Catherine Hearn,

Development Officer


Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland is a partnership between Business to Arts and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

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