Knowledge Centre Blog

Thoughts on Commencement of The Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland Programme by Louise Donlon, Director, Lime Tree Theatre & Belltable

Louise DonlonWorking in the arts is never dull. It can be hard, hugely enjoyable, infuriating, uplifting, highly sociable, lonely, thankless and utterly rewarding. Many of the tasks are bureaucratic and include dealing with finance, governance, health & safety and insurance. While they may not be the most inspiring and satisfying of tasks, they are an essential part of the foundations on which successful arts organisations are built.

One of the fundamental tasks undertaken by arts managers is fundraising and its ever-changing nature. I consider it to be among the most challenging aspects of the managerial role and the most difficult to master successfully. We have all wrangled with endless lists of fundraising ideas, some more successful than others. Many are laced with insecurity and doubts about what you are trying to achieve, how you are going about it and whether it fits with the purposes of the organisation and the donor.

Recently, the Lime Tree Theatre adopted a new approach. We used to portray ourselves as a charitable, not-for-profit organisation that deserved support, but we now present ourselves as a resource in the community that is worth investing in. Yes, we have charitable status, but that is not what defines us. Our message and our sense of ourselves changes from seeing ourselves as a charity to viewing the organisation as a resource that is worth investing in.

Coming to this conclusion is one thing, putting the resources in place to transform the fundraising function was another matter entirely. It was therefore with a great sense of excitement we learned that we had been accepted on to the Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland programme. We are confident that our participation in the Fellowship will be transformative and we are delighted that a long-standing member of staff, Gill Fenton, will expand her responsibilities into a new role as Marketing and Development Manager in what we hope will be an exciting and hugely beneficial mentorship.

Notwithstanding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, 2020 marks the natural end of the first chapter in the life of this company. The end of the year will see the publication of our new five-year strategy 2021 – 2025 and the start of a new Service Level Agreement with Limerick City & County Council for the management and programming of Belltable. The new reality of living with COVID-19 is an added challenge, but one that we are ready to meet. Participation in the Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland programme will add to that sense of renewal and will contribute significantly in helping us chart a new course in the ongoing journey.

We begin the work with a tremendous sense of optimism and greatly look forward to working with Business to Arts and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on this programme.

Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland is a partnership between Business to Arts’ New Stream programme and the Department Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

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