Knowledge Centre Blog

Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland – Thoughts From Fiona Garvan, Development Executive, Dublin Theatre Festival

November 30, 2018 1:55 pm

Business to Arts Picture Conor McCabeIn June 2018, I began the Fundraising Fellowship with Business to Arts. Monthly seminars to date have covered: fundraising and sponsorship strategies, organisational strategic plans and marketing plans and have featured guests speakers Tracey Keogh, Innovation Community Manager, Bank of Ireland; Fiona Keys, Senior Employee Communications Specialist, Medtronic; Eamonn Carroll, Membership Relationship Manager, RDS; Eoin Gunn, Head of Business Banking, AIB, providing valuable feedback and insights into their areas of expertise.

In addition to these external advisors, I have found working with and learning from the other participating organisations and Fellows, Druid and Cork Film Festival, to be hugely beneficial and I look forward to exchanging knowledge and ideas over the course of the Fellowship.

The ambition at Dublin Theatre Festival is to diversify revenue streams and reduce dependence on public funding. Currently and going forward, working in collaboration with Business to Arts, the Festival is developing a focused three year Fundraising Strategy, setting income targets for 2019-2021 through increased corporate partnerships and continuing to develop and grow our Friends Membership Scheme.

A challenge has been how to communicate the Festival’s objective to develop future theatre audiences as well as the future of the art form. A core objective of the Festival is to contribute to the cultural vibrancy of Dublin by supporting Irish artists and the creation of new Irish theatre, and by bringing the best of international theatre to Dublin. The mentoring and training offered through the Fellowship will create a stronger organisation and lead to more ambitious programming for audiences. The Festival is seeking a Title Sponsor as well as additional corporate partners, including, Presenting Partner and a Community Partner and we are undertaking market research and profile analysis in order to develop and refine a competitive and attractive sponsorship package to take to the market.

We hope the Fellowship will help us to build on our existing partnerships and grow new networks with businesses and cultural organisations, resulting in a significant impact on the long-term fundraising sustainability of the Festival in the years to come and ultimately support the development, growth and success of the organisation.

Fiona Garvan

Development Executive


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

Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland – Thoughts from John McEvoy, Development & Marketing Executive, Druid

November 26, 2018 3:22 pm

Business to Arts Picture Conor McCabe

In June 2018, I attended the first Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland seminar as part of my two-year Fellowship. From this first seminar I knew immediately that the following 2 years were going to be instrumental in helping me to strategically improve all aspects of my fundraising activities for Druid. Druid’s aims for participating in the FFI programme were to:

  • Develop our fundraising skills and expertise
  • Look to diversify our income stream to build long-term sustainability
  • Build upon our existing supporter base through improving on-going relationships
  • Develop new partnerships among local and national businesses and corporates
  • Build individual philanthropic connections that will make a significant difference to our work

I had originally joined Druid, in a part-time development and marketing role, 12 months previously. Being new to both the arts and to fundraising, meant that there was much on-the-job learning to be done. My only previous fundraising experience had been a week-long residential course on Arts Fundraising in the UK prior to joining Druid. When I joined, I set about putting what I had learned into practice and building on what had been started previously within Druid. Although progress was being made, it took some time to learn how to be more focused and task orientated in a role that, by its nature, takes patience and a rigorously strategic approach.

And this was where the Fundraising Fellowship came to the fore. From the very beginning we were tasked, at each seminar, with presenting various aspects of our respective organizations: the structure; board; brand; strategic plans; a SWOT analysis, our fundraising strategy as it existed; marketing plans etc. This helped us to better understand our organisations and to more cohesively hone our fundraising message and story over time. It became clear that we were not fundraising in a vacuum but were doing so in a manner that impacted on all aspects of our organisations as well as our audience, our collaborators and our supporters. Feedback was given on all presentations and the workshops helped us to further develop our skills and expand our fundraising knowledge in key areas such as corporate sponsorship, prospecting and developing a cohesive fundraising strategy.

Through 2018 Druid has substantially increased its income from businesses and corporates and we have successfully developed our International Friends programme through fundraising initiatives around a US tour of our production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. We are currently developing plans to grow our support from individuals through enhancing our Friends and Transformational Partners offerings. We are also finalising a number of multi-annual Project Sponsorship Opportunities for businesses and corporates, where we are seeking to build Strategic Partnerships around: Touring; New Writing; Mainstage Productions; and the Druid Ensemble.

I am looking forward to the next 18 months of mentorship from the Business to Arts team and their various guests and experts. A key element of the programme will be to develop, over time, a cohesive and flexible Development and Fundraising Strategy that will act as a blueprint for all of Druid’s fundraising activities into the future.

John McEvoy

Development & Marketing Executive

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

Thoughts On Commencement Of The Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland Programme By Garry Hynes, Artistic Director, Druid

July 5, 2018 9:56 am

Garry Hynes 425

Druid is delighted to have been selected for the Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland programme. We’re looking forward to learning from and meeting the challenges that lie ahead. The outcomes of this fantastic initiative will undoubtedly lead to further growth for us as a company.

When Marie Mullen, Mick Lally and myself set up Druid in 1975, there were few resources with which to build a theatre company in the west of Ireland. However, the support of the Galway community was instrumental in helping us make our bold idea a reality. In 1979 we negotiated a lease for a peppercorn rent on an old tea storehouse and this enabled the company to have its own venue. The building was owned by the McDonagh’s, one of Galway’s famous merchant families, who later generously donated the building to Druid. What is now called The Mick Lally Theatre, after our late founder, has become a landmark cultural facility in the centre of Galway city.

Druid as a company understands and greatly values the support it received and continues to receive from the Galway community and many of our friends and supporters around Ireland and abroad.

As a company we also understand that in order to continue growing and to continue making some of the most exciting theatre in Ireland we need to build on-going strategic partnerships with business and individuals. We see the Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland programme as a keystone, helping us to build our existing support base and develop new relationships. We passionately believe audiences should have access to first class professional theatre in their own communities. We tour extensively in Ireland and around the world and to continue this mission we want to forge new partnerships with individuals, businesses and corporates, not just in our Galway base, but also throughout Ireland and with multinationals based here.

2018 is the busiest year in our 43 year history and we have many exciting and ambitious plans for the future. We strive for excellence in everything we do and while our energy, ideas and ambitions are endless, our resources are not.

Over the next two years, we will be working very closely with Business to Arts and the New Stream programme to achieve our aims of: developing our capacity for fundraising; diversifying our income stream as we build long term sustainability; enhancing and building upon our existing supporter base through improving on-going relationships; building strategies and developing skills to grow a stronger, more agile organisation; and building philanthropic connections that will make a significant difference to our work.

Our Fundraising fellow, John McEvoy is enthusiastic and excited about the prospect of contributing to the future growth of Druid in a positive, concrete manner. All of us at Druid, staff, creatives teams and members of the board, are supportive of his participation in the Fundraising Fellowship programme and are looking forward to working closely with John to achieve our goals.

Thank you to Business to Arts and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for this exciting and timely opportunity.

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




Thoughts On Commencement Of The Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland Programme By Fiona Clark, Producer & Chief Executive, Cork Film Festival

July 3, 2018 9:18 am

Business to Arts Picture Conor McCabe

Cork Film Festival is Ireland’s first and largest film festival, a local, national and international celebration of cinema, showcasing the latest and best Irish and global features, documentaries and shorts, over ten days each November in Cork. 2018 marks the Festival’s 63rd anniversary, and the start of a new and exciting stage in our development.

Festivals are extraordinary beasts – unique collaborations that fuse art, audience and place. They excite, engage, enrage, and entertain. In 1956 our founders were ambitious that the Cork Film Festival “must always be strongly influenced by the company it keeps. The company is good.” In 2018, the company is still good – the best world cinema for the whole city and its visitors.

Our mission is to connect people through great film, engaged conversation, and a shared cultural experience. As a defining artform of the modern age, film endures because of its relevance, popularity and democratic nature. It challenges perceptions and provokes debate. When presented over the concentrated festival period, the dialogue and experience is amplified and the impact is magnified.

The Festival must continually review and seek to refresh itself; change and evolution is essential for us to develop and grow sustainably in order to realise our ambitions. Our focus from 2018/19 is considered phased development to consolidate 2017 successes and to begin implementation of a three-year Strategic Plan, leading to the Festival’s 65th anniversary in 2020.

Our involvement in the Fundraising Fellowship, Ireland programme comes at a pivotal time, providing the essential resources and focused investment needed to develop meaningful partnerships – creative, community and commercial – and support a period of intense and sustained capacity building over the next two years.

Participating in this programme will enable the Festival to establish meaningful, mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships that generate vital resources to invest in our organisation to support our artistic and organisational ambitions, and help drive access for and ongoing engagement with a wider audience, through staff, volunteer, customer, and online communities.

Appropriate partnerships will contribute to our cultural development on multiple levels. Collaboration helps drive focus on our aims by setting a frame around what is distinctive about Cork Film Festival – what we do and who we are for. Partnerships help us to articulate our unique offering and to refine our fundraising activities in order to progress our ambitions. The better – and wider – we articulate that story, the greater the opportunity to leverage support for our work. We need to develop our capacity to invest in our artistic programme and operation, and to increase visibility and reach. We believe that corporate partnerships will both enrich and enable our cultural work in this way.

The Festival has multiple stakeholders – a large and loyal local audience, national and international visitors to Cork, emerging and established filmmakers and artists, the wider AV industry, our funders and donors, and the media.

Our Fellow, Aoibheann McCarthy, will develop, drive and deliver our engagement strategies, enabling the Festival to pursue these activities year-round over a sustained period and in a focused way, in a manner that has not previously been possible.

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

Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin: TBG+S, Director Report Year 1

June 29, 2018 10:26 am

Business to Arts Picture Conor McCabe PhotographyBy Cliodhna Shaffrey, Artistic Director

The first thing to say about Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin, beyond doubt, is that it gave Temple Bar Gallery + Studios a new level of confidence. A shift from precarity to something you might even call sure-footed. As if, for the first-time in a long-time – with the addition of a full-time member of staff, (whose work focuses on development and communications -key areas for change and progress), we could really believe in what is said about us: -   ‘a leading light of the visual arts in Ireland’, ‘a core part of the national visual arts infrastructure’.

It is not that we doubted this impression, these words ring true. Temple Bar Gallery + Studios is a leading light for visual artists in Ireland, and it has been from its beginning. But rather, the high-wire act of trying to keep things steady; to take care of the promises made to artists, to ensure that glimpses of dreams outlined in strategies might become a reality, to swim with the dreaded tide of ‘more for less’ in the hope that all the activity propped up by Jobbridge and volunteers would pay off, can take its toll. This high-wire act is tough and tiring. So, the Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin came at a time when it really could make a fundamental difference. It gave TBG+S this remarkable form of support and invested in an individual, (Muriel), who would grow, evolve, learn new things, gain real expertise, and put this learning into play to become a core full-time member of TBG+S’ team. This is the key achievement of the Fellowship, and it makes the position of Fundraising and Marketing Executive an indispensable and essential role in the Organisation.

Grant applications and venue hire are performing well. We are working towards developing three-year sponsorship programmes with existing Corporate Sponsors. New Corporate Sponsors are sought for new campaigns, and here we are prospecting a number of Companies via our Board. The introduction of the Commissioning Circle brought one donor. To activate this new funding stream we have added a donor link on our website and prospecting through the Board.   We have more clarity and focus in fundraising to sustain and strengthen the Organisation and engage staff and the Board in achieving targets.

Audience figures are slightly exceeded the target of 26,000 at 26,470 in 2017. A new neon sign, especially designed for the Gallery window will bring another impetus to our remit – with words in a circular format to read – ‘Art is for Everybody is for Art’

Key learnings include:

  • Investment in full-time member of staff in strategic and developmental position with mentorship over two-year period is seeing solid results in such investment
  • Working in a strategic way to diversify income.
  • Involving the Board and the establishment of a Fundraising subcommittee
  • Development of new campaigns and understanding that this is a slow and on-going process and role the Board can play here
  • Telling our story and getting key messages across to impress with concrete material – statistics and substance, use of anecdotal and testimonials, excellent documentary images and films
  • The value of building relations with sponsors, ensuring positive staff engagement and understanding why they are interested in the partnership
  • Placing fundraising as a core part of the development and bedrock to the organisation – this includes public funding via available grants and corporate sponsorship
  • Reviewing aspects of the Supporters Club – understanding this programme better
  • Working across the team to develop new strategies to connect to new audiences

More information about TBG+S fundraising and communications objectives can be found here: 

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