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Engaging Young Fundraisers at the IoF Cultural Sector Network Conference

Engaging Young Fundraisers at the IoF Cultural Sector Network Conference

Many of us, particularly if starting out at a small institution, have faced the problem of being denied personal development opportunities that come at a significant expense to our employers.

Junior fundraisers at small cultural organisations often struggle to access high quality , particularly when budget cuts and ever-tightening purse strings mean that budgets are prioritised for more senior colleagues.

Although important steps have been made by organisations including the IoF Cultural Sector Network and the Fundraising and Philanthropy Programme to make training opportunities more readily available and accessible, in reality the wonderful opportunities that can be offered by conferences, such as the upcoming IoF Cultural Sector Network on 8th March, are out of reach from those early-career fundraisers who would most benefit from them.

12 bursary places for March’s conference

This is an issue that the IoF Cultural Sector Network, in partnership with Young Arts Fundraisers (YAF), have started to address. We are thrilled to have just awarded twelve fully-funded bursary places for March’s conference, targeted at individuals in the earliest stages of their careers.

For those who have not heard of the ambitious Young Arts Fundraisers group, this is a new professional network for early-career fundraisers in the cultural sector which seeks to connect, engage and mentor its young members, who already number over 350. Young Arts Fundraisers are delivering an early-career track at the upcoming conference, which will bring together a cross-section of keynote speakers and case studies from a diverse range of cultural organisations with the aim to build skills and knowledge in the sector.

Young Arts Fundraisers event in January 2017

Young Arts Fundraisers event on 17th January, a panel discussion at Soho House entitled “Building a culture of philanthropy: sharing the fundraising love”.

These bursaries are a key focus of the Conference as they will allow young professionals to attend who otherwise would not be able to. They reflect the IoF Cultural Sector Network’s commitment to supporting the fundraising leaders of the future, as Dan Fletcher from the Network’s Committee affirms:

“The Cultural Sector Network has a priority to support smaller cultural organisations and to engage with young and new fundraisers. We’re delighted to partner with Young Arts Fundraisers, and the bursary scheme is one example of this. We look forward to meeting the bursary winners and their contributions to the online discussion around the conference.”

Bursary recipients include members of Young Arts Fundraisers who are in the first five years of working in the industry, and they represent a diverse range of cultural organisations across London and the regions. Ranging from trainees and interns to development managers and sole fundraisers, our recipients work across theatre, the visual arts, music, museums and heritage. Although diverse in nature, they have in common that they typically come from small arts organisations with limited training budgets that are unable to offer them such a vital experience.

The beneficiaries of this bursary programme have been able to demonstrate the immense personal and organisational development opportunities that attending the conference will offer them. As Yasmin, one such beneficiary, outlines:

Yasmin Hafesji

Yasmin Hafesji, Development Assistant and Creative Access Trainee, The Gate Theatre

“As an early career fundraiser in a trainee position at a small organisation, the opportunity to attend the IoF conference is invaluable. Without the bursary, I would not otherwise be able to attend. I’m particularly interested in the talk ‘Using motivation to maximise giving’ and hope that the whole conference will help my professional development.”

Yasmin Hafesji, Development Assistant and Creative Access Trainee, The Gate Theatre

Getting access to high quality training can often be a greater challenge for those working outside of London. Young Arts Fundraisers and the IoF Cultural Sector Network seek to have an increasingly regional impact, and Hannah is one of a significant number of bursary recipients originating from the regions:

Hannah Litherland, Development Officer, Tobacco Factory Theatres

Hannah Litherland, Development Officer, Tobacco Factory Theatres

“This bursary is a fantastic chance for me to develop my skills further in all areas of fundraising… Often big conferences and training opportunities are in London which means for people like myself, being based in Bristol, there is added expense and time to factor in, and so this opportunity takes a big part of that expense away… I have recently started a new position as a Development Officer and in particular my role requires much more face to face skills than my previous fundraising roles. I am really interested in building my confidence with this aspect of my development and there are themes in the conference that can help with this, such as reading and acting on the signals that donors give.”  

Hannah Litherland, Development Officer, Tobacco Factory Theatres

It is our hope that these twelve successful recipients will be able to take the knowledge, skills and contacts they make at the conference back to their places of work, to benefit their professional practice and develop their careers with a strong support network. We look forward to meeting all of them at the conference, and you can see their reactions to the bursaries on LinkedIn.


About the Cultural Sector Network Conference, Wednesday 8 March: limited places still available

The annual Cultural Sector Network National Conference is the largest event of its kind in the UK, bringing together a cross-section of speakers and case studies from a diverse range of cultural organisations across the country to build fundraising skills and knowledge in our sector. This year’s conference will include inspiring keynote addresses from Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England and Bernard Donoghue, Chief Executive of Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), other confirmed speakers include Andrea Nixon (Executive Director, Tate Liverpool), Vikki Heywood (Chairman, RSA) and Amanda Saunders (Director of Development, Royal Opera House).

There will be three separate tracks, designed to appeal to the widest range of arts & heritage fundraisers – Early Career (run in partnership with Young Arts Fundraisers), Mid Career and Senior. It will be at the Light conference venue, just opposite Euston station in central London, chosen specifically to appeal to those travelling from further afield.

About Young Arts Fundraisers

Young Arts Fundraisers meeting in January 2017

Young Arts Fundraisers meeting in January 2017

The strength and sustainability of cultural sector fundraising depends on a throughput of new, well-trained fundraisers who are supported by a robust network of their peers. Until now, there has been no organisation to bring early-career arts fundraisers together to discuss and address their professional needs and development.

Young Arts Fundraisers is a professional network for early career fundraisers in the cultural sector. Through a monthly programme of specially curated events, their vision is to:

• Connect cultural sector fundraisers from the earliest stage of their career

• Engage with and facilitate access to senior fundraisers and professional bodies

• Mentor early-career fundraisers to promote best practice and increase knowledge and skills transfer

They have ambitious plans to develop a London, and ultimately UK-wide membership for fundraisers in the first five years of their careers. As a new generation comes to the fore in cultural sector fundraising, they will have a professional network to meet their needs.

For information on Young Arts Fundraisers, upcoming events and to register, sign up to Young Arts Fundraisers’ mailing list or email the Co-Founders Matthew (Matthew Ross, UCL), Fanny (Fanny Guesdon, Brunswick Arts), and Chris (Chris Powell, Dallaglio Foundation) at

Alexandra Davis, Board Member, Young Arts Fundraisers


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