Image Credit: Michael Afonso
A Catalyst for Change?
What we've learnt from the Catalyst Programme in its 3 years
Jonathan is an economist with over a decade’s experience in impact assessment and evaluation, and high-level policy experience, particularly within the cultural and creative sectors.
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Arts Council England
Between 2012 and 2015, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England invested £100 million to help the cultural sector raise money from private sources.
BOP evaluated Arts Council England’s strand of investment, £68 million, which benefited over 400 cultural organisations across England – from the large to the small, the urban to the rural, and across diverse art-forms.
First, the main assumptions that informed the design of Catalyst have been borne out. At the heart of these is the idea that improving fundraising is not simply a matter of buying in a fundraising post, but instead requires a much broader and more profound process of organisational change and culture change. Our reports make explicit what this transformation has consisted of, how and when it has happened, and what were the main challenges to the process.
Catalyst also provided match-funding to help incentivise both donors and arts organisations to increase giving revenues. Match-funding proved an extremely positive element of Catalyst: it boosted arts organisations confidence and made them feel more empowered when pitching to donors, and donors in turn responded to the fact that their money could go further. Here, the Catalyst findings reflect the wider experience of match-funding across the charity sector.
However, the very success of the programme and the match-funding prompts the question as to what happens when the funding ends? Did the organisations ‘fall off a cliff’ and revert to their previous situation?
As our evaluation continued for a year after Catalyst ended, we were able to explore this. We found that, on the contrary, organisations had kept fundraising and most of them plan to increase their fundraising activity in the near future. The structural changes grantees made with the support of Catalyst, such as establishing a greater consensus around, and extended responsibility for, fundraising across the organisation, recruiting for new fundraising posts and Board members, and drafting new fundraising strategies, suggest that they are better equipped to fulfil their fundraising ambitions.
Arts Council themselves have also learnt greatly from the first round of Catalyst investment and have adapted the follow-on tranche of Catalyst investment, Catalyst: Evolve (which we are also evaluating), accordingly. The new three-year programme combines the most successful elements of the first round (i.e. money for capacity building and match-funding) with a greater focus on smaller organisations with less experience of fundraising.
Beyond assessing the design of the programme and its impact on grantees, our research also contains a wealth of material on what constitutes good practice within cultural philanthropy and fundraising. In particular, the 32 case studies completed across the evaluation illustrate the importance of the following success factors:
Designing a compelling case for support
Developing a mission and vision-led fundraising strategy
Identifying fundraising assets
Developing fit-for-purpose governance
Establishing a culture of fundraising within the organisation
Understanding donor motivations
Using consistent and effective messaging
Deploying a tailored approach to relationship management
Designing an innovative case for support
Through Catalyst BOP is building up a uniquely powerful body of evidence on what makes for successful fundraising in the arts. In these economically challenging times, this will be of urgent interest not just to the cultural sector at home, but also internationally, as cultural leaders in countries such as The Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Korea and Australia turn to the private sector to support culture and look for what works in policies that encourage greater cultural philanthropy and sponsorship.
Arts Council England’s Catalyst programme was the largest direct public policy intervention to support cultural philanthropy and fundraising in the UK, and beyond.
Catalyst is a £68 million culture sector-wide private giving investment scheme aimed at helping arts organisations build the capacity and ability to fundraise, so they can access more funding from private sources and eventually further diversify their revenue sources.
Catalyst Evaluation Year Three - Final Report
A global research and consulting practice for culture and the creative economy
Building on our contribution to the second edition of the report in 2018, BOP has led as the Data and Research partner on this report to help find out how policies can protect people working in the creative and cultural sectors.
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Culture: The cornerstone of the UK’s high streets
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Economic impact of COVID-19 on the Cultural and Creative Industries
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