Knowledge Centre Blog

Fund it Crowdfunding Toolkit (Part 1)

July 21, 2016 8:29 am (our crowdfunding website) announced a  crowdfunding toolkit which discusses  aspects of crowdfunding and how to successfully raise funds through the site. The  crowdfunding manual was released on in partnership with Bank of Irelan. has also announced the latest phase of technological developments to the site, enabling faster submission & launch processes for creatives and entrepreneurs.

Trends in arts fundraising 2015

December 29, 2014 1:14 pm

2015 Arts Fundraising Trends

By Andrew Hetherington and Rowena Neville.

The fundraising landscape for arts and culture has changed considerably in recent years. Reducing Public subsidy has resulted in many arts organisations actively working to diversify their revenue streams by engaging individuals, corporate and trusts/foundations in their mission. At the same time, there have been State initiatives aimed at simplifying fundraising (eg. Section 848a changes), and enhancing fundraising in the non-profit sector (eg. Charities Regulatory Authority).

Competition for every euro fundraised is significant. Arts organisations are engaged in a substantial catch-up game against many worthwhile causes (health charities, sports organisations, schools and universities) that have invested substantially in fundraising over recent years.

A key aim of the Business to Arts project New Stream, is to enhance arts fundraising & management practice in Ireland. With this in mind, we’ve identified 10 trends in arts fundraising that we believe will have an impact on Irish arts organisations’ fundraising achievements in 2015…

Asking & Thanking Well : Unfortunately, individuals, companies and other private organisations are not waiting to hand over money to arts organisations. Three simple rules of giving that arts organisations should have when fundraising are that potential supporters have to be predisposed to your cause; they have to be asked to support it; and if they are asked, they should be thanked whether they support your organisation or not! If you/your arts organisation are not out in your community, engaging people regularly with a compelling case for why your organisation and it’s programmes should be supported, you will not see substantial increases in your privately fundraised income.

Investing in Fundraising : In 2015, more arts organisations will be resourcing full-time fundraisers. Some Irish arts organisations now have 3 – 4 full time employees in their fundraising department. Where fundraising departments exist, these roles are typically separated into the management of friends/members; corporate supporters/sponsors and major-gift fundraising. This separation of duties is enabling more focused fundraising approaches and is helping to ensure retention by engaging and delivering to different types of supporter.

Organisational Fundraising : Yes, having (even) one full-time fundraiser will help with fundraising, but it takes an organisation-wide approach to have a transformational impact on fundraising. Successful arts fundraising means having well developed links/strategies with all other aspects of arts governance and management including; programming, marketing, sales, customer service and finance. Arts organisations that are most successful with fundraising are keenly aware of this!

Governance and Transparency : With the Charitable Regulator coming into effect in 2015, Boards of arts organisations will have to give specific focus to governance practices and transparency in the coming years. If your organisation is not up-to-date with the Codes of Governance for Charitable Organisations and Fundraising Codes of Practice, now is the time to familiarise yourself. Your donors will expect this!

On Board : With fundraising a major focus of all arts organisations, Board Members of arts organisations can make an important statement by financially contributing to the organisation relevant to their capacity. Becoming a Friend or making an annual donation (within your means) is an important first step in understanding fundraising at your organisation and will help inform how you (as a Board member) can add to the fundraising success of the organisation.

From Friends to Investors : More organisations will see the value of investing in and developing their friends and membership programmes. A network of people giving annually at a modest level provides a list of predisposed people to have ‘bigger’ conversations with (about major-gifts, one-off/cause-related campaigns and legacies) further down the line.

Corporate Portfolios : Some arts organisations are focused more on bringing together a portfolio of corporate partners to help deliver their objectives. Typically this type of activity is successful at corporate contributions/investments of less than €15,000.

Title Sponsorships : 2014 saw a handful of Title Sponsorships emerge and grow, primarily among Festivals and commercial Arts Events. Tiger Beer and Dublin Fringe Festival joined forces, and our friends at Sky Ireland committed to a further two years partnering with Cat Laughs Festival.

Onside Sponsorship’s Annual Sponsorship Industry Report suggests that many sponsors see Festivals as cost effective sponsorship opportunities. With this in mind, we’ll be watching out for Onside Sponsorship’s Annual Report in early 2015 for sponsorship insights (related to Arts and Music Festivals) and will be publishing our own Arts Sponsorship Report in late 2015 to help inform those interested in title sponsorship and other arts sponsorship opportunities.

Online Giving : Online giving is becoming an important segment of the arts fundraising market. It is primarily relevant to ticketed venues & festivals, particularly when small donations are integrated with online booking/ticketing, and to artists and arts organisations interested in crowdfunding.

With Fundit, Kickstarter and Indiegogo now regularly used by Irish creatives, we expect approx €2million to be crowdfunded by Irish artists and arts organisations in 2015. If you don’t know about how people from around the world can pool their giving to support your arts project, have a read here.

It’s more social to be direct : Arts organisations are beginning to question the value of committing substantial resources to social media as a communication channel for fundraising and wider marketing activities. 2015 will see a turn back to engaging more directly with the people who have commit to be on your arts organisation’s database. We believe a worthwhile activity for early 2015 (as well as all the above) is focusing your efforts on ensuring your fundraising processes (databases, personnel, collateral and web) are up-to-date and effective at converting contributions.

Crowdfunding Tips from Dublin Fringe Festival Project Creators

August 26, 2013 2:47 pm

We talked to three project creators from the Dublin Fringe Festival to find out why they chose crowdfunding as a means of funding and to try and get an insight into their campaigns. Here’s what they had to say.

The full version of this post was originally published on the Fund It Blog, available here.

Oisin McKenna – PETTYCASH

For Oisin McKenna of PETTYCASH, project creator for ‘GRINDR/ a love story’, crowdfunding just made sense. For small, up-and-coming or lower profile artists and organisations, crowdfunding can be the most accessible funding option.  Digital marketing is a big part of the PETTYCASH ethos, so crowdfunding seemed a very compatible match. Another advantage, although not a deciding factor, was the publicity it brought in advance of the show, getting people talking about it and creating visibility.

Most important element of project: It was vital when submitting the project that the whole thing was high quality, nothing was just thrown together. The project represented a strong product indicator for the show.  The video was really important. It had to be a fun, creative work in itself, while being representative of the piece it was describing. The rewards were important too.

What worked: Making sure social media posts were about activities, and not just asking people for support. When fatigue set in in the middle of the campaign they started being less creative with the posts and the decline in shares and retweets was noticeable. By talking about what they were up to, the pledges started rolling in again.

Would you do it the same again? The campaign was really successful, so Oisin reckons they would just tailor any future campaign to the project at hand, without changing tack.  They would use crowdfunding again if it was appropriate for the project, but having run a campaign, would explore other options before returning to the crowd too soon.


 Aonghus Óg McAnally – Although Rise Productions

Aonghus Óg McAnally, project creator for ‘The Games People Play‘, has always been a great advocate of supporting Irish theatre. Although Rise Productions are an award-winning company, they have been turned down for Arts Council funding a number of times. Due to the theatre podcasts they created in 2011, they have a very engaged network, which lends itself to crowdfunding.

Most important element of project: As a regular funder on the site, Aonghus was fully aware of the importance of rewards. ‘The Games People Play’ offered a wide range or rewards, from a copy of Gavin Kostick’s script to a performance of the award winning show ‘Fight Night’ in your house.

What worked: Utilising the ‘other half’ of his network. The members of the theatre community, while very engaged, are frequently bombarded with crowdfunding requests, and may even have a crowdfunding project of their own to concentrate on. So thinking about ‘other networks’ was key. Aonghus has a really strong connection to the GAA, many of whose members would come to his shows. The support from the GAA was enormous, and made all of the difference.

Would you do it the same again? This project received such generous support, that to do it again, it would have to be quite different. There are only so many times a person can tap the well, so future crowdfunded projects would be smaller, more suited to concentrating on ticket pre-sales.


Rose O’ Reilly – We Are Islanders

Rosie O’Reilly from We Are Islanders is creating a unique art installation, ‘4/704’, as part of this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival. This is Rosie’s first large scale installation, so State or corporate funding would be difficult to get. We Are Islanders have always relied on funding from individuals and supporters so crowdfunding online is just a different platform for something they’re already used to.

Most important element of project: The story. The installation tells the story of a bigger issue which Rosie was well aware would be the most interesting thing for the We Are Islanders’ network, so getting that story across well was vital. The image by Des Moriarty was also important for their publicity campaign.

What Worked? Strategy; An initial e-mail was sent to 30 key people who Rosie knew would not only support the project, but would act as ambassadors for the campaign. Getting a GIF in LeCool on the day the project went live was key, as the readership is huge and very relevant. The name written in sand was a really popular reward and has generated great excitement as it is unique, special and makes funders feel like they’re a part of the project.

Would you do it the same again? The project was a great success so future strategies wouldn’t change. This project was presented in a different incarnation from the Re-dress project – even though they are related, Rosie thinks crowdfunding works best when presented as a one-off. She would use it again herself in another context, for a project that needed public support and involvement.




Temple Bar Gallery + Studios – For Impact Learning

July 10, 2013 11:43 am

Anne Kelly, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios; Declan Moylan, Chairman, Mason Hayes & Curran and Claire Power, Director of Temple Bar
Gallery + Studios

Two years after taking part in For Impact Fundraising Training, Director Claire Power talks about celebrating not only a milestone in the history of the gallery but also some important fundraising achievements over the last year, and how her For Impact learnings has led to those achievements. |Interview by Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan

Temple Bar Gallery + Studios is a gallery space for Irish and international artists, also providing studio space to 40 artists a year. Founded in 1983, TBG+S was instrumental in establishing Temple Bar as a cultural hub in the early 1990s and this year celebrates its 30th Anniversary. In 2011, Director Claire Power and Programme Curator Rayne Booth took part in the For Impact Training Programme facilitated by Business to Arts. Claire has worked in TBG+S since 2005, and became Director in 2010. Her aim was “to change the management plan of the organisation, and look at forward planning”, and participating in the For Impact training was one way of achieving that aim.

Claire remembers that “one of the things that came out of our For Impact Training was refining our organisational mission and how we talk about it, and what stuck out for us was storytelling”.  She and the staff of TBG+S have focused this year on sharing the story of their 30 years in business, which demonstrates the historical impact of TBG+S in the area. “Storytelling has been a big part of it” says Claire, “for us the 30th Anniversary has been key to that, to demonstrate our impact.”

An important takeaway for Claire was “refining your message and communicating it in a compelling way”. By simplifying their message, they were able to focus their fundraising activities on the concept of the 30th Anniversary, which has been sponsored by Mason Hayes & Curran. “One of the key messages about Temple Bar Gallery + Studios that we want to get across is about the 30th Anniversary and how the artists in the building over 30 years led to the regeneration of the area”. With this one focus in mind, Mason Hayes & Curran’s sponsorship incorporates an events programme that revolves around this single idea. The programme launched in February with Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan opening the event. The programme also involved an art and education programme, and President Michael D Higgins, coming to launch the 30th year commemorative publication.

TBG+S approached Mason Hayes and Curran because they feel that “it is an organisation that shares the same ethos for supporting artists and the arts.” TBG+S have also made an effort to create a reciprocal relationship with their sponsor by not only asking for funding but also engaging with the company. The sponsorship has enabled TBG+S to create a new arts and education programme which involves working with primary and secondary schools in the same area as Mason Hayes & Curran. The programme introduces children to Contemporary art, and also involves an exhibition held in the Mason Hayes & Curran building itself. In addition to the sponsorship, Mason Hayes & Curran is supporting TGB+S with their marketing and publicity. By creating a mutually beneficial programme, TBG+S have maximised their relationship with their sponsor. In addition to this particular sponsorship, TBG+S also has secured a silent partner this year, enables a graduate award for young artists.

Regarding partnerships, Claire believes that “when public funding is under increased pressure, building up fundraising capacity in the long term is important”.  Maximising relationships as soon as possible is important, “because when a funding crisis happens, it’s too late if you haven’t been nurturing those relationships over the years.”

This year, TBG+S launched a large crowdfunding campaign on Fund It for the first time for a commission by artist Garett Phelan. Our Union Only in Truth is a large work located on the roof of the building, commissioned to mark the 30th Anniversary. The objective of crowdfunding the work was not only to fund it, but “a good way to engage one-on-one with people who are willing to support the organisation and to commit to making a piece of art” says Claire, “which was unique for us to do and really rewarding for us as well”. The campaign raised €15,895 through the website. In addition engaging the public, Claire and the staff have focused on engaging prospective sponsors. “A big part of fundraising is going out there and asking people, practicing and refining how you speak about the organisation and how you communicate to people who might not be your usual audience.” Claire feels that it is important to engage with new stakeholders, and understand how the gallery and its mission can relate to different people.

You should get people excited about the crux of what you do and why, which for us is about supporting artists and bringing Contemporary art to as many people as possible. Claire Power

OUR UNION ONLY IN TRUTH, 2013, 560cm x 280cm, painted mild steel

The For Impact Training Programme also focuses on how to communicate effectively with prospects. Claire feels that the programme “reminds us not just to see things from the artistic side but from the business side as well, and makes us think about what makes a presentation or proposal compelling to a prospective sponsor.” She has found the presentation is more effective when integrated into a site visit. “It’s better than just powerpoint!”

Claire has found that bringing prospective partners to the gallery itself has been a fantastic way to get them on board. She believes that “getting out there and making contacts and asking people to come to the building has been the best way of pitching to them”. By bringing people to the space itself, they can engage more in the business and what it does. “What’s really authentic about visiting here is getting in behind the gallery and seeing the artists’ studios,” says Claire. “It’s a hub and it’s a creative community, and so we have been able to show that and share that with different prospective sponsors”.

Corporate funding is about making new projects happen, which is exciting. Claire Power


Crowdfunding and Visual Arts

November 16, 2012 6:13 pm

We asked the people behind three great Fund it Visual Art projects to give some advice to future project creators. Here’s what they had to say…

Fiona Kearney, Director of the Lewis Glucksman Gallery – Mixtapes

'45 78 33' an artists' book in response to the exhibition Mixtapes

’45 78 33′ an artists’ book in response to the exhibition Mixtapes

Fiona offers some relevant advice on managing a live campaign following the Gallery’s successful project which saw a limited edition artists’ book ‘Mixtapes’ being funded with the support of 72 people,

“We treated our live campaign as part of our social media conversation. We kept it informal and hopefully informative. We didn’t overload our social media with updates as I had got a bit frustrated previously with overly keen fundraisers constantly in my inbox.

We also had fantastic advice from Fund it moderators on how to pitch the campaign before we went live which helped us to make our pitch punchy and appealing to a general audience.

We also had investors lined up (mostly family and friends) at the start of the campaign to ensure initial investment. We sought support from board throughout. That was pretty much the plan.”

Anne Cleary & Dennis Connolly – Hall of Mirrors.

Dotman from Hall of Mirrors by Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly

Dotman from Hall of Mirrors by Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly

58 people helped Paris-based artists Cleary & Connolly raise over €6,000 toward their exhibition ‘Hall of Mirrors’ which is touring Ireland in 2012/13 and going to Paris in 2014. Connolly & Cleary emphasise the importance of preparing for the work involved with a crowdfunding campaign:

“Our Fund it campaign was a very positive experience for us. It really generated a buzz around the lead up to the exhibition, and led to quite a lot of media attention. We were really surprised at the warmth and generosity of people’s reactions, in particular from the art community; there was a real sense of solidarity.

However I regretted not being able to give the campaign quite the time it really required. It is quite intensive, people feel very involved through supporting the project, and so it is necessary to really thank them individually and keep them updated on progress. This all takes a lot of effort, and so you really need to allow the maximum lead in time possible. I’d recommend starting at least six months before the event happens.”

Anna O’Sullivan, Director of the Butler Gallery – What is Art?

56 people helped the Butler Gallery raise over €4,500 toward ‘What is Art? No answers, just discovery’ – a hardback journal written by young people from the Gallery’s education programme. Like most projects, the Gallery used a combination of communications channels including email and social media to get information about their project to a wide audience. Anna echoed the comments made by Cleary & Connolly above about the work and preparation involved with crowdfunding:

“crowdfunding was an extremely positive experience for the Gallery… the process made us very aware of how much success was dependant on how we targeted our diverse contacts with frequency and creativity.”

Here at Business to Arts, we think all of the above is great advice. It is clear to see from their feedback that crowdfunding (including preparation, execution, delivery and follow up) involves time and work. You won’t be surprised to find out that most fundraising does too!

If you’d like more in depth hints and tips from other successful crowdfunders, take a look here.

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