Knowledge Centre Blog

New Stream Review Year 6: An insight into fundraising capacity trends in Ireland


Chief Executive of Business to Arts, Andrew Hetherington looks at current fundraising capacity trends in Ireland ahead of release of  New Stream Year 6 Review.  

2015 marks the end of the sixth year of operation of the New Stream project which is supported byBank of America Merrill Lynch; The Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht; The Ireland Funds; The RDS and Business to Arts’ wider corporate membership base. We welcome Accenture as a new supporter of New Stream in 2016 as we enter the second year of the current two-year partnership with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland.

This annual evaluation serves as a vital tool and point in time to progress the impact of New Stream and inform Business to Arts’ mission. New Stream is a programme with finite resources, which sees considerable demand from artists, arts organisations and creative businesses around Ireland. The toll of the last eight years in Ireland continues to have a significant impact on the arts sector and its need for new sources of revenue.

The headline results from 2015 are indicative of a considerable change in the environment. €2.4m was raised by participants in 2015. This is down 44% from €4.3 raised by participants in 2014. While there are many reasons for success and failure in fundraising, it is clear there has been a significant change in human resources dedicated to fundraising in participating organisations. This has impacted our ability to accurately record the funds raised by some organisations, despite them having worked intensively with Business to Arts to strengthen their strategic planning, artistic programming, marketing programmes and board engagement.

Feedback from New Stream participants identifies that:

  • A lack of time and human resources to develop and implement new strategic and fundraising plans remains a continuing barrier for the cultural sector
  • The arts sector faces long-term challenges attracting and retaining fundraising talent in a rising economy
  • The competition for professional fundraisers among the non-profit sector as a whole is significant
  • The impact of prolonged gap periods between the appointment of fundraising talent on fundraising performance can be considerable
  • The general appeal of professional fundraising in the arts sector is questionable. The salaries offered; the duration of contracts offered; the fundraising targets expected; and the insecurity of positions in the arts all present threats to future fundraising performance
  • The cyclical nature of fundraising performance in the arts sector will be maintained unless organisations can work to improve salaries and working conditions offered to fundraising talent

For me, the above findings reinforce the need for capacity building organisations like Business to Arts and programmes like New Stream and Fund it. Arts organisations will face many environmental factors that at times will impede or progress their fundraising success over the coming years. The resourcing of programmes like New Stream; continuing support services for fundraisers; and other development activities are crucial for sustainable fundraising in the arts sector in Ireland.

Business to Arts’ mission is to build creative partnerships between the arts and business; so that the creativity of the arts and the acumen of the business community enhance each other and drive world-class performance in Ireland. With the business community (generally) feeling the effects of an upward economy, Business to Arts must now allocate additional time and resources to the supply side of corporate investment in the arts.

New Stream’s role is to build the capacity of the arts sector in Ireland. This role includes developing the capacity of commercial and industrial organisations, individuals, trusts/foundations and central and local government to see the benefits of investing in and funding the arts, in addition to enabling arts organisations to develop sustainable new revenue streams.

To help us achieve this, we will seek renewed investment in New Stream during 2016 and beyond. We will work with additional partners and create opportunities where leaders in the arts world can meet with their peers in Government and corporate Ireland.

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