5 reasons to choose a career in arts fundraising

 13 August 2015

Amanda Rigali runs Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy, a national programme that develops fundraising skills and success across the arts and cultural sector. She explains how important fundraising is and how fun it can be as a career option.

Working in an arts and cultural organisation is all about finding creative solutions to problems.
Working in an arts and cultural organisation is all about finding creative solutions to problems.

Within our team, we’re used to hearing some common questions when we talk about our work. 

The most common is: "Why do the arts need to fundraise?" This is closely followed by: "Fundraising… that’s a bit, well, dull. Isn’t it?"

Firstly, arts and cultural organisations really do need to fundraise. 

The majority of them are charities, dependent on charitable donations for anything from one tenth to one half of their income, and yet only one per cent of all charitable funds go to arts and cultural causes.  

Secondly, in the words of Jess Hilton, one of our Arts Fundraising fellows, fundraising is "a lot of fun". Here are some of the reasons why.

1. You get to support a cause you’re passionate about

Fundraisers are the engine of a charity, winning funds to help realise their ambitions. 

Only one per cent of all charitable funds go to arts and culture. 

For people who love being involved in arts and culture but don’t want to be (or can’t be) an artist, fundraising gives them the opportunity to be the essential link in the chain between art/artists and the public.  

Robin Peters' message to arts fundraisers is: "Get excited, and communicate that excitement to donors."

2. You can bring your own creativity to your work

Working in an arts and cultural organisation is all about finding creative solutions to problems, including how to attract more philanthropic support.  

In the arts, fundraisers don’t have huge budgets to play around with. They do, however, have access to wonderful assets, including artists, buildings and artworks.

They also have the scope to use these assets to develop bespoke campaigns and donor events. 

3. You can be constantly curious

Test new ideas, explore new partnerships and think outside the box. 

You will be changing people's lives by winning funding.

Fundraisers can’t just rely on the ‘same old ways’ of doing things. They are always looking at emerging trends in digital, social investment and donor behaviour. 

Matt Ashdown talks about "going beyond the obvious" as an arts fundraiser in his blog.

4. You can build relationships for your organisation

Fundraising is all about people giving to people – money only comes through building strong relationships with donors.   

People will only give their own money to a cause if they trust the person making the ask and believe their donation will be put to good use.

Building that trust with people is a fascinating and humbling experience.

5. You can achieve fundraising success

As well as gaining satisfaction, you will be changing people's lives by winning funding for your organisation.

Fundraisers are the engine of a charity.

There are inevitably lots of failures to deal with as a fundraiser, but the wins make up for them! Next time you are looking at some art, it may be something you have helped to create. 

Sarah Woods, a producer at the arts charity People United, sums it up in the blog she wrote to support her own fundraising for the organisation:

"The arts is a fantastic way of bringing people together, of learning about each other, of challenging ourselves and our values, of getting better at understanding each other and each other's lives. An important cause, wouldn’t you agree?"

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