Our Strengthening the Core programme is back by popular demand!
In May 2022, Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy will share this programme for the second time after 2021’s successful pilot, for up to 15 individuals working in the arts and cultural sector. Strengthening the Core is for fundraisers (including accidental ones!) in the sector who are looking to build their collective and personal resilience. Through a unique blend of discussion and movement, the programme supports participants to build on existing self-care, communication and resilience skills, giving them greater resources to respond to the unique challenges of their work.
Here, we spoke to Milla about what Strengthening the Core involves, her experience with our previous cohort and what she’d say to anyone considering signing up.
Milla, why do you think it is important for fundraisers to take time to focus on this course?
“As I’m sure your audience will know better than I, people with responsibility for fundraising can experience a uniquely challenging set of pressures. Whether it’s your core role, or something you end up doing through leadership or accident, fundraisers are ultimately responsible not just for enabling the vital work of the organisation, but also the livelihoods of their colleagues. This can feel like a heavy burden.
In some cases, particularly in smaller organisations, they may be the only person with that responsibility, which can create a sense of isolation, particularly if there are high targets and a lack of emotional or practical support from overstretched colleagues. All of these factors can make it difficult to prioritise rest and self-care, driving cycles of stress, overwork and burnout.”
How was your experience of running the Strengthening the Core programme in September and did anything surprise you with our previous cohort?
“I had such a blast last time. The group were thoughtful, engaged, and seemed to find a great deal of support from one another. I was definitely surprised by how much people love the ‘homework’. Previously, I’ve tended to shy away from using that word – I’ve said ‘practice experiment’ instead – but given how much people enjoy the in-between tasks, it’s almost more fun to use the term ‘homework’ and then turn it on its head. For example, one of the tasks is to identify something that you know nourishes you and supports your wellbeing, and to do it a little bit more than usual. That’s the kind of homework people enjoy!”
Are you planning on making any changes or adapting the programme in any way this time around?
“I always adapt the programme in small ways as I prepare, based on recent experiences, and sometimes in more significant ways as I learn more about the needs and interests of individual participants. I usually learn about this during the welcome calls, which everyone has in the run-up to the programme’s start.”
How did the participants on the previous course respond to the programme?
“Overall, as I said, they seemed thoughtful and engaged. They enjoyed trying things out, sometimes for the first time – such as keeping their phone slightly out of reach for a day or experimenting with different ways to deliver a ‘high-quality no’.
As is common, people had different styles – some like to reflect and process quietly while others prefer to chew things over together. Hopefully the structure enables these different styles all to flourish with the mix of individual reflection and discussion in small groups.”
What would you tell anyone considering signing up to Strengthening the Core this May?
“This programme is for people who know that the way they are working – or being encouraged to work – is not sustainable in the long term. For people who are curious and interested to explore the links between individual and cultural or systemic factors that can lead to exhaustion and overwhelm, and between embodied and communication practices.
The programme balances restorative and nourishing practices with skills development and reflection on shared challenges. Nourishing practices include work on our values, nature connection and embodied yoga. Skills building includes sessions on saying no, working well with anger, and reflecting on power imbalances and privilege through an embodied lens. You should come away bursting with ways to reduce the drains on your energy and recharge your batteries at the organisational and individual levels.
You might even be inspired to take steps towards changing our sector culture as a whole – making it less of a machine for burnout, and more of an environment for flourishing.”
Want to find out more?
Join Milla for a taster session on Monday 9 May from 4.30pm until 5.15pm.
Secure your place on the taster here.