Gifts and donations – Live Blog

Here you’ll find the live blog of this stream of the conference. Gifts and donations – donations, legacies, sponsorship, online fundraising, memberships – to name a few examples.

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

8th group:
The BIGsleepover – a respite care project. Raising money to run a series of sleepovers in our community centre in Manor Park for about 50 children; provide dinner and a trip, plus
£25,000 is the end target, for 14 sleepovers. That was quite ambitious, but have made first milestone (£3,000) and still raising funds.
Neil Gaimon tweeted about the project; had events, local media, wrote letters and emails (from the perspective of a pair of pyjamas…); our local cinema is planning to do a special event for us. Face-to-face contact with people is important; getting staff on board; being prepared. Collaboration and leverage are good tools…
And the 9th and final group:
Mind the Gap – theatre company that works with learning disabled and non-disabled artists as equals. Project – the Arr Pirate App.
Whatever you’re doing to crowdfund – have as much fun as possible. Brainstorm and capture people’s imaginations.
Lessons learned:
- Soft launch?
- Get your core team involved ASAP!
- Plan your campaign
- Be positive and make it fun!
- Tailor to your audience
Nov 28 – 15.38 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

7th group:
Newlyn Art Gallery - wanted to be more accessible (physically and intellectually) to the community. Committed to bringing international art to the West Country, representing local artists and providing a cultural resource for Newlyn. Wanted to pave the yard, create outside seating, build a cycle rack, provide a space for messy work, create a social space – a resource for Newlyn.
Made flyers, used every event and opening to make contacts – this was one of the most productive ways of raising funds. Used Twitter and Facebook; it was hard to maintain momentum. Created a Pinterest board. Had a donation box, and donations increased because the profile of the gallery and its needs had been raised. Approached friends and trustees; giving details online was sometimes a barrier here. Most productive way was creating a list of 50 businesses and contacts and writing personalised communications to them. Biggest donator turned out to be a local business who had historically been resistant to the gallery.
Top tips: get colleagues on side from the get-go, particularly your marketing person. Assemble your hit list and keep communicating with them.
Nov 28 – 15.27 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

Sixth group:
Stay Up Late – Gig Buddies.
Stay Up Late started off as an awareness campaign; last December became a charity. Gig Buddies was an idea launched in Brighton in March, at City Camp. Simply put, it matches people with a learning disability with someone without a learning disability who likes the same kind of music so they can go to gigs together.
“Our vision for the gig society”
Activities included -
- Tweeting, Facebook, other social media use
- Mailchimp emails
- Blogging
- Club nights (“Kiss My Disco”)
- Plugged during guest lectures, training for providers and service users
- “Spud buddies” lunch
- Cake morning
- Passing hats at gigs
- Crowdfunding workshop in Camden
Results -
Hit £1,000 target!
Learnings -
- Make time. Don’t underestimate how much time it will take.
- Ask for help
- Build a supportive crowd
- Be specific about what you’re asking for
- Share ideas with people
- Love your crowd; engage with each and every individual
- Food works
- Be creative
- Social media is important, but it’s important to work out what’s best for you and what your crowd use/how they engage
Nov 28 – 15.20 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

The fifth group…

East Lancashire Women’s Centres. Hoping to launch a creative craft business under our umbrella – ReWorked: a craft business to boost skills, grow confidence and inspire women in East Lancashire.

Still fundraising for the project. Activities fall into three general categories…


Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, emails


Community radio, local newspapers, community groups, networks, people


Cake sale, tombola, coffee morning, coffee and cake

We realised we weren’t getting much response from volunteers (we have 89) – turns out many weren’t comfortable sharing details and/or engaging online. But it’s helped raise awareness amongst volunteers about the need for fundraising – many didn’t realise it was necessary.

Haven’t met £8,000 target, but fundraising is ongoing. We have increased likes on Facebook, reached first milestone and are on way to second milestone. Also got lots of in kind support – advice, volunteers, training, and materials. Lessons:

- Get the team on board BEFORE you launch

- Let your team know exactly what they need to do

- Map out your contacts…who else can help you reach your goal?

Nov 28 – 15.07 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

Our fourth group…
Challenge included taking a project that wasn’t really “donor-sexy” and communicating it to people
Activities -
- Mailing list
- Targeted mailing to specific interest groups (e.g. banks)
- Bag packs
- Book sales
- Etc.
Was exciting to get the rest of the team in the organisation on board; and they did reach their target of £2,000!
Nov 28 – 14.56 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

Our third group:
The Horse Rangers Association - a youth development charity. 60 opportunities every week, over 100 volunteers, 90-100 children and vulnerable adults with disabilities each year. But  only 9 horses…
Looking for 5,500 pounds to buy a horse. Haven’t raised it yet…
Activities included -
Asking supporters, volunteers, parents, trustees, contacts; online activities (Facebook, tweeting, a blog); events (bake sale, talking to a local group); PR (press releases and personal stories)
Learnings - 
This took far longer than expected; 6 months to plan and build up would have been ideal
If you have the time and can put it in, it’s worth it – you get other benefits than just money
Crowdfunding is not right for every project; this maybe wasn’t the right time for our organisation to do it; maybe we could have explained more clearly what we needed the horse for
Not quite finished yet though – have got some good press, and going to carry on for a few weeks longer
Nov 28 – 14.52 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

Moving on to our second group:
LATCH was aiming to raise funds to refurbish an empty house, involving unemployed volunteers and creating a home for a homeless family in Leeds.
Activities included:
- Devised a range of relevant awards for supporters (e.g. having their names included in a time capsule for the house)
- Designed leaflets, posters and display
- Contacted MC members, families, friends, local organisations and other contacts to ask them to donate and spread the word
- Social media
- Media coverage – local radio and newspaper
- Raffle
Results and Learnings:
- Got good media coverage, increased followers and raised profile, but didn’t reach milestone
- Now setting up Localgiving page
- Took more time than anticipated!
- Plan ahead and do groundwork before campaign starts
- Allocate time and resources for duration of campaign, for planned activities and unexpected opportunities
- It takes time to get people on board
- Allow time to organise offline fundraising activities to get the word out and support the challenge
To sum up, we’ve learned a lot about fundraising, and about the benefits and difficulties of using crowdfunding. It’ll help us as we think about future fundraising…
Nov 28 – 14.45 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

Moving on to the first of the groups now…

Burning the Clocks -

Created by community arts charity Same Sky (based in Brighton). A unique event that brings the people of Brighton together for a seasonal celebration for all faiths. 2,000 people take part, with 20,000 spectators.

Crowdfunding activities included:

- New marketing materials

- Links on websites, ads

- Email campaigns

- PR (press releases and radio interviews)

- Social media (Twitter, Facebook)

- Offline activities (raffles, bucket collecting at other events)

- Personal emails to contacts and suppleirs

- Asking individuals and groups to spread the word (MPs, CVSF, etc)

- Internal communications (brainstorms, thermometer, specific asks, positive feedback)


- Raised £4,000 target!

- Now have two major donors (above £1,000)

- Raised profile of ourselves as a charity

- Increase in followers on social media and new supporter details

- Local companies got in touch to offer support

- Internal shift: new approach for staff


- Personal approach best

- Factor in more planning time

- Make time for it every day

- Include time to be responsive; engage with people

- Utilise what you’re doing already

- Internal comms proportion; spend time engaging staff

- Ask…then ask again!

- The “creative soul”; this was a category for people who didn’t want a reward, they just wanted to donate – we should have maybe added this sooner

- Ask yourself: is crowdfunding right for this? For now?

Nov 28 – 14.39 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

Theresa Burton, CEO and Co-founder of  Buzzbnk (

Buzzbnk is all about co-venturing and recirocity. It’s about creating a relationship with supporters; they share the journey and they share the benefits.

“Giving as investment” -
Buzzbnk enables social ventures to offer three types of loans and in combination of other engaging benefits:
- Revenue participation (share a set % of future revenues of the project)
- Interestbearing loans (the venture can offer a fixed interest rate on a loan, e.g. 5%)
- Principle only (the venture can offer to return the principle after a fix term)

To date, we’ve helped 50 projects raise over £450,000.

Nov 28 – 14.25 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

Theresa Burton, CEO and Co-founder of  Buzzbnk (

Some Crowdfunding basics

- a set target amount for a specific outcome

- “all or nothing” within a specified time limit

- benefits in return – engaging benefits, good or products events, tributes, etc.

- in some cases, ability to raise loans, equity, and peer-to-peer lending (e.g. Funding Circle, Seedrs, Bank to the Future, etc.)

What crowdfunding is not:

- “If you build it they will come”

- “Kickstarter, the most successful platform in the US for cultural projects, has a success rate of just 43%

- Only those projects which actively fundraise succeed

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

Nov 28 – 14.19 – Miranda Ward

PM1 – The Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 – the results!

The Crowdfunding Challenge: been running for the last 3-4 months, launched just before the summer. It’s about exploring crowdfunding as a new way of riasing money, but also as a way of developing skills in fundraising and individual giving in relationship management etc.

Groups were given 60 days to achieve their target. Considering most of them haven’t done crowdfunding before, this was quite a big task.

This workshop will sum up some of the learnings, including an introduction to crowdfunding. Each of the groups will also give an overview of their projects and experience.

Nov 28 – 14.11 – Miranda Ward

Chapter 4 – Innovation: Does it take a crisis to make you really change? (AM1 discussion)

KWP: Where are you now, Jonathan? In 2007 you were grant-dependent, what’s your funding like now?

JP: It’s not all there. But we’re turning over about 415,000 right now. We’re very very busy, doing a lot of events.

KWP: To return to the original quesiton: does it take a crisis to make you really change? Or do you think we’re constantly evovling and changing anyway?

JP: I don’t want to suggest that having 65% of your funding cut with three months notice is good for you! But I think it’s inportant that we think the unthinkable. So I don’t think an external crisis is necessarily good – but I also tend to look at a lot of organisations in our field and think there’s a lot of fat on them, for instance.

KWP: I think what’s inspirng about your story is how a crisis made you focus on the core of what you do, and the way it strengthened relationships. We’ve got time for a few questions now…

Nov 28 – 11.59 – Miranda Ward

Chapter 3 – Innovation: Does it take a crisis to make you really change? (AM1 discussion)

KWP: Thinking about one particular asset you may not realise you have: relationships. Can you tell us more about how you developed these relationships?

JP: The big discovery was the relationships with the audience – and we wanted to tahnkn them, so we made this participatory piece about sleep, a free show. We found when we toured the show, people came up to us and said, great, we’re glad your’e still here – but this isn’tthe work we want you to be doing. And so we invented a crowfdunding system, which was inspired by Ebbsfleet United, a tiny football club - whereby the audience could buy a stake, which gave them the right to suggest what the show should be. We had a small panel, and then we’d vote. It didn’t raise a ton of money, but it grew our relationships to a different level.

KWP: We were talking about the authentic voice coming out to help build those relationships.

JP: Yeah – any messages came from the heart of the company. There was no marketing. There was an authenticity and a consistency that people responded to. The thing to bear in mind is that what35 years of public funding had allowed was the creation of a track record and a number of relationships and supporters. if we’d only been gong five years I don’t think we’d have stood a chance. The other thinng that was important is that we’re quite an innovative theatre, and we had a couple of little seeds, one year projects that were very beneficial, and we started looking at whether those could go from being hand-to-mouth projects to three or five year things – we were slightly more strategic and cunning about that.

KWP: It’s interesting that you had those relationships, but in a way it was through the crisss that you found out just how important they were to you and you were to them. You had some good luck through that authentic voice, didn’t you?

JP: We had a couple of very good pieces of luck. I’ll talk about one of them. We had a hedge fund manager approach us; he gave us half of this sum we asked for on the condition that we could match it, for three years. After two years – in December – I got a phone call saying, “I can’t do the third year” – so last year, again, we had 100,000 missing. But it’s interesting.

Questions for the audience to think about:

what valuable relationships do yo have?

how could you approach them more creatively?

Nov 28 – 11.56 – Miranda Ward

Chapter 2 – Innovation: Does it take a crisis to make you really change? (AM1 discussion)

KWP: So you were facing losing your funding – how did you react as an organisation; you had 9 staff, some freelance staff, quite a lot of challenges to face.

JP: Our chair was brilliant. And what we did was – we had to make people redundant. We had to look at whether or not we’d be a going concner, whether we’d have to go into administration. We mounted a very effective campaign – it didn’t reverse the decision, but it did galvanise a lot of people we didn’t now were our friends. And they wrote heratfelt letters to the arts council – people of all ages. Children having exchanges with people at the arts council on our behalf! We then looked at different models that the company could take up if the decision was against us. We knew we all believed in the company and we wanted it to continue. We looked at five or six models, considering what it would do, and also what it wouldn’t do – what we would have to shed. What likely income streams for each of the models, what skills they’d required, and strengths and weaknesses. That’s a pretty good objective framework, and a good way to pull together trustees and staff to have an intelligent discussion.

KWP: So what did you end up with?

JP: We ended up shedding our summer show, focusing on our participatory work, and creating events with our community, and not really employing any professional actors. Which was tough.

KWP: I suppose it led you to focus on your core, where you thought you could make the most impact. You had to make a lot of cutbacks – we talked about how you ‘sweated your assets’, as well…

JP: We realised we weren’t using all our building, so we had space – so we could hire that out, in a way that would build beneficial relationships. We had a stall full of old props and costumes, we cleared that out, sold costumes…we looked at all our overheads, were bearing down. We became a little obsessive about it!

KWP: So when people talk about innovation – you’re also thinking about efficiency, saving money by doing things differently. You’ve also mentioned the important asset of those relationship you did’t realise you had.

Some key questions for the audience to think about:

What are your assets? 

How could you use them more effectively?

Nov 28 – 11.41 – Miranda Ward

Chapter 1 – Innovation: Does it take a crisis to make you really change? (AM1 discussion)

This is the first workshop in the gifts and donations stream. We’ve got two speakers, and we’re going to put a positive spin on what happens when you face a crisis. We want to lok at positive ways of engaging with crisis to give you back control.

The first speaker is Jonathan Petherbridge – Creative Director, London Bubble Theatre.

Our second speaker is Katherine William-Powlett, Leadership and Innovation Consultant at NCVO. It’s really a joint presentation, a conversation around London Bubble’s experience.

We’ll cover it in four chapters…


KWP: How did London Bubble start out?

JP: We’re forty years old this year. The company’s evovled over the yeras. The criss we’re going to talk about wasn’t its first brush with mortality. Each brush either forced or caused the company to innovate.

KWP: Did you have a clear sense of your mission?

JP: It’s been expressed in different ways, but it’s never really chnaged. It was intended to provide product to audences, shows for audiences. Very quickly it started making work with audiences The mission is to try to involve people who don’t readily access theatre -involve them int the benefits of theatremaking, to measure and broadcast those benefits.

KWP: So how was that funded?

JP: 2007, the turnover was 850,000. The major funder was the Arts Council. London councils provided 90,000. And the rest of it was mostly earned income that came from the shows that we produced.

KWP: That was 2007/8 – what happened around then?

JP: Well, in december 2007 we received a letter from the arts council. They were looking to defund 200 organisations across England, and we were one of them. And it was going to take effect from the end of March 2008. so we essentially had three months notice. and the londn council’s funding was coming to an end in september of that year.

KWP: So you were facing almost a complete drop-off of your funding (about 65%). We’ve talked about how you kept your mission – how did you react to that as far as your mission was concerned when you thoguht everythng was going to go?

Some key questions for the audience to consider at this point are:

what is your organisational mission? 

could you hold to it in a crisis?

Nov 28 – 11.38 – Miranda Ward
This entry was posted in sfp2012. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.