Why fundraise for Arts & Culture?


We live in shifting and challenging times. Money from Government at both Central and Local level is being cut, and the Arts are certainly no stranger to the effects of this. The National Theatre recently reported in an article for Fundraising Magazine that it had suffered a cut of 30% in government funding in the last decade or so. But in these straightened times, why should we fundraise for the Arts at all? Aren’t there more important priorities when people are living off food banks and suffering from poor mental health, to name just two examples?

There was discussion of this in the greatly inspiring recent get-together for RAISE: Arts, Culture and Heritage. This is an initiative funded by the Arts Council that is allowing the Institute of Fundraising to offer training, networking and mentoring to those working in these fields. There hasn’t been enough of this type of opportunity for those working in Arts and Culture, and it was great to be a small part of this initiative, but why is it so important right now, more than ever?

As a child of the 80s, my favourite summing up of this came from Mr Keating in Dead Poets’ Society:

“Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

That was true in the 1980s, another tough decade for the Arts, and it remains eternally true. In the most challenging parts of the world, where far too many people are living in refugee camps, humans always get together to perform, to read to each other, to sing, to paint and create. These activities bring humanity and bearableness to otherwise unbearable situations. They are the things we have always done, not because they perform a useful economic function, but because they are part of what we are as a species. Stories, visual and oral, help us make sense of things. They allow us to walk in others’ shoes and help us imagine new possibilities. They’re about the art of the possible, and in changing times they can create the road map we need to a better future.

We desperately need medical advances, funding for fundamental and explorative science, justice and a whole list of things that are crucial to sustaining life. But we must never forget the things that make us human. There are enough donations to go around, and there is enough funding from government should they choose to deliver it to the hard-pressed Arts and Culture sector. In depression era America, a key part of Roosevelt’s New Deal was greatly increased funding for Arts and Artists, supporting people such as Jackson Pollock and John Steinbeck.

Lobbying governments to change funding is of course worthwhile and should be pursued, and things can change quickly when a new administration comes in. But Arts and Culture have always made their own luck. Against this background, it is great to see institutions getting out, inspiring donors and asking for big gifts, by getting givers to buy into the amazing and transformational things they are doing. They are helping donors to visualise why it is important to support them. They are dreaming in technicolour, and using their incredible spaces and people to inspire philanthropy. Everyone should be doing that – let’s not wait for Government to wake up. To use the words of Shakespeare, “Let us…on [their] imaginary forces work”.

Am I saying anything new in this? No. Does it need to continue to be said and repeated?

All. The. Time.

Go out and ask and ask proudly, and often. Fund the future.

Shaun Horan is Joint CEO and Co-founder of Halpin Partnership, a management consultancy specialising in nonprofits such as the arts and higher education.


Disrupting the Case for Support


A Case for Support is an oft-used tool in fundraising to set out your stall; its purpose to communicate the ‘Why’ of your campaign. It’s a working document designed as a group/workshop exercise to provoke discussion, tease out the campaign’s identity and find its most compelling elements. It constantly evolves and very, very rarely ever reaches a stage of print, design and publishing.

It’s a critical exercise to ensure robust central campaign communications. Whether you’re a Vice-Chancellor, a Major Gifts Fundraiser or a Regular Giving Officer, you must be fluent in the unique and compelling reasons to give to your campaign – and your Case is your script.

Why write a Case for Support? Because that’s what you do for a campaign. But let us not fall into the ‘because we’ve always done it that way’ trap.

Read more

Brexit + Trump = Time for Turbo-Charged Alumni Relations

, , , , , ,

Back in November 2016, Halpin Joint CEO Susie Hills wrote this piece, and it remains as relevant now as it was then. The smartest institutions are connecting and engaging with their international community in a meaningful and long-term way as an insurance policy against Brexit.

The winds of political and economic change are creating stormy weather for higher education institutions on both sides of the Atlantic. Both Brexit and the election of Trump have exposed deep divisions within our societies: our higher education institutions are seen to be part of the ‘privileged establishment’ for which many in our society are expressing their discontent. In both cases university staff and graduates were predominantly on the losing side of the vote, yet in the face of this divide, our universities must play their part in helping to bring communities together and tackling disadvantage.

Read more

Fundraising lessons from Gareth Southgate

, , , ,

Let’s face it, who isn’t just a little bit in love with Gareth Southgate right now? Who wouldn’t be impressed by his focus, modesty, attention to detail, attitude and waistcoats.

As we all reflect on an extraordinary match, I think there are some interesting lessons for fundraisers.

Read more

7 things state school Heads need to know about fundraising….


If you are Head of a state school you won’t have much time to read this so here are the 7 things you need to know about fundraising….

Read more

Funding the fundraising

When I began my career in fundraising, the accepted mantra was that people would not give significant gifts to support salaries for professional staff. They would give to buildings, they would give to research programmes, they would support a professorship, but they would not be interested in the salaries of support staff. Still less would they invest in supporting the salary of a fundraiser.

Read more

How can we use kindness to guide our fundraising?

What if we reimagined fundraising using the guiding principle of kindness? The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that kindness is ‘the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate’.

Introducing…Halpin Fundraising