Matthew Ross, Co-founder, Young Arts Fundraisers, writes about their launch event supported by Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy.
At a networking event last month, I found myself talking with the newest young recruit to the fundraising team of a London orchestra. I asked him what attracted him to the job. He hadn’t thought of fundraising as a career, he replied, but when he saw the job advertised, it seemed an excellent prospect. I asked him what support he received for professional development. He wasn’t sure.
This event was the launch of Young Arts Fundraisers – a new professional network for cultural sector fundraisers in the early years of their careers – which took place at the Science Museum on 14th September with the support of the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy programme. This young fundraiser has a familiar story, which is exactly why co-founders Fanny Guesdon (Brunswick Arts), Matthew Ross (UCL) and Chris Powell (LSO) decided to create the network.
Fundraising in the cultural sector is still a profession that most chance upon, though the influx of new talent is increasing. It is also a profession that is still defining itself through benchmarking and, critically, is still exploring how best to manage and develop its talent. This is especially true for early career fundraisers.
The green shoots of best practice are emerging. The workforce boasts three past cohorts of Arts Fundraising Fellows, now in their early years in the industry, who are putting learnings from their Fellowships into practice. But most of us in the first years of our careers still have few opportunities to meet as a professional community.
How, then, do we talk about our shared challenges and the best practice we can use to tackle them. How do we identify our shared professional development needs and address them?
Some of the answers are out there, in the skills and experience that senior fundraisers have gained from years at the coalface. So those of us just starting out must work together to facilitate connections with our senior peers. We must also speak with a unified voice about our needs to professional bodies like the IoF Cultural Sector Network, and lobby for affordable access to the IoF’s training and conferences.
The seventy-strong company of arts professionals, established and emerging, who turned out to support Young Arts Fundraisers’ launch was testament to the importance of this work. We heard colourful stories from Martin Kaufman (Chair, IoF Cultural Sector Network) of the challenges he faced in his early career. Amanda Rigali (Director of Strategic Development, Cause4) emphasised the need to work for our common goals. The early career fundraisers in the room are tomorrow’s leaders and, by forging a strong community now, we drive forward not only our own skills, but also the future success of the organisations we will lead.
Young Arts Fundraisers also launched the first of its new speed-mentoring sessions, which gave emerging fundraisers the chance to address bespoke skills and career development questions with senior practitioners from major arts organisations including the Natural History Museum and the London Handel Festival.
Young Arts Fundraisers is now revealing its launch season of carefully curated monthly events, organised by a strong committee representing the Tate, National Gallery, Sadlers Wells, London Library, National Youth Orchestra, Serious and Artangel. Highlights will include panel discussion events in partnership with the IoF Cultural Sector Network, Young People in the Arts and the Foundling Museum, networking drinks, exhibition private views, and further speed-mentoring. The network is also developing a structured mentoring programme with the IoF Cultural Sector Network.
Young Arts Fundraisers has ambitious plans to develop a London, and ultimately UK-wide membership that connects, engages and educates its diverse group of members. It also plans to raise the profile of fundraising with the help of a growing number of partner organisations. So, as a young generation comes to the fore in cultural sector fundraising, they now have a new network to meet their needs.
Young Arts Fundraisers’ next event is a panel discussion on 15th November in partnership with the IoF Cultural Sector Network: ‘How to (Re)Engage Corporates with the Arts in a Post-Brexit Environment’. Speakers include David Jubb (Artistic Director, Battersea Arts Centre) and John Diviney (Director, Brunswick Arts). Further information and tickets are available here.
If you would like to get involved or have any questions, co-founders Fanny Guesdon (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Matthew Ross (email@example.com) will be pleased to hear from you.