Knowledge Centre Blog

Review of Development Managers’ Forum

Louise O'ReillyBy Louise O’Reilly, Network Development Manager, Science Gallery International (Chair)

What is it?

The Development Managers’ Forum (DMF) was established in 2009 and is a network of professional Development/Fundraising Managers in the Arts in Ireland that emerged from New Stream (For Impact Training and quarterly Development Managers’ Fora) and now invites other Arts Fundraisers to become members.

How has it developed?

The Forum seeks to address the need for on-going and regular mutual support by and for Development Managers. It also continues to develop by growing the network beyond New Stream participant organisations. It meets approximately 8 times per year.

It aims to:

  • advocate for a better understanding of the role of Development in arts organisations and to attract diverse investment towards the arts sector in Ireland
  • provide Development Managers with the opportunity to work together on areas that are not necessarily a business priority for Business to Arts
  • empower Development Managers to take responsibility for their own, and for the group’s development
  • move the group towards a position of self-sustainability, providing leadership and a collective voice

Key insights

“The DMF continues to provide invaluable sectoral insights and peer-support for the small group of arts fundraisers in Ireland. Instigated by Business to Arts under New Stream, the group is now constantly self-evaluating and evolving, supported by Business to Arts. The DMF sees within itself the opportunity to raise the professional profile of arts fundraisers in the sector and beyond. The forum brings together the more established arts fundraisers with the new generation, across all art forms, to share best practice, market experience and to seek out external expert advice on critical issues impacting the role of arts fundraisers.”

“In the context of a challenging economic climate and reduced public funding, the Government recommends that the sector develop private sources for additional funding. The DMF will seek to find ways to influence and help develop the philanthropic culture through advocacy within their own individual spheres, across the corporate sector, and ultimately with policy makers. The DMF represents the collective arts fundraising voice operating at the coalface of this challenging climate and culture.”

Key Achievements & Events in 2015

  • 2015 saw an increase in the recruitment of Development Managers as a role within many arts organisations. DMF continued to broaden its membership to include the new cohort of RAISE 2 Development Managers
  • Developing the group as a collaborative unit benefitting practically from the sharing of knowledge, information and peer learning
  • Enhancing our collaborative role as advocates for the arts sector as an attractive investment vehicle for the private sector
  • Committing to and realising our goal of mutual advocacy amongst a diverse range of stakeholders
  • Guest speaker sessions with:

o    Martin O’Sullivan, Finance Director, Arts Council on their Fundraising Capacity Building Strategy

o    Patricia Quinn, MD Benefacts on Good Governance and introducing the new portal for Ireland’s non-profit sector data, and how this can assist with case-making in arts development

o    Ray Yeates, City Arts Officer, Dublin City Council, on Dublin’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2020, and the launch of the Docklands Arts Fund

Areas for Improvement in 2016

Following an end of year review, the objectives of the group are to:

  • Advocate for an ‘organisational/organisation-wide’ approach to development
  • Develop our collective thought-leadership on areas such as the National Cultural Policy and coordinate our public voice about sectoral issues
  • Educate internal and external stakeholders and other decision-makers about the need to support the arts eg. Ministerial advisors, board members etc

Current Challenges for Development Managers in the Arts

  • Diversity of responsibilities for Development Managers
  • Managing broadening communities of support
  • Enhancing overall brand of arts organisations
  • Communicating a complicated offering externally
  • Managing fundraising expectations of Boards
  • Balancing decline of public funding and generating new private income

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