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Catalyst Year One Report
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Catalyst Year One Report

Rossella Traverso reports on BOP’s Year One evaluation of the ACE Catalyst programme

Rossella Traverso


Rossella has four years experience of working in research and evaluation. She holds particularly strong qualitative research and project management skills.

Rossella Traverso - Associate | BOP Consulting

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Arts Council England


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Since April last year, BOP has been working with Arts Council England to evaluate the Catalyst programme. Catalyst is a ‘£100m culture sector wide private giving investment programme’: it’s about helping arts organisations diversify their income streams and access funding from private sources. This week ACE published the first report in BOP’s longitudinal evaluation.

Catalyst was launched in 2012 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and Arts Council England, to support the development of philanthropy within the cultural sector by helping organisations improve their fundraising skills and capacity. Fundraising from private sources, philanthropy and endowments has long been understood as an important income-raising approach in the American arts and cultural sector and in other UK charity sectors. However, awareness of this has only relatively recently gained traction within the English arts and cultural sector.

Arts Council England’s strand of the scheme totals £68m and consists of three ‘Tiers’, each with a different focus, and targeting organisations with differing starting levels of expertise in working with philanthropy and fundraising. The first part of BOP’s evaluation for the Arts Council has focused on Tier 2 (Capacity Building and Match Funding) and Tier 3 (Building Fundraising Capacity only). Our research so far has taken in a literature review on arts philanthropy in the UK; interviews with stakeholders, donors and Catalyst recipients; a survey of all Catalyst participants; and two national ‘Learning Events’ aimed at promoting peer-to-peer knowledge among participants.

Our Year One report reveals that the scheme has so far been successful in helping organisations to develop fundraising skills and to approach new donors. However it also highlights that developing a culture of fundraising within the cultural sector is a long term goal. To that end, Arts Council England has recently announced a new programme for 2016 that will build on the work of Catalyst, further developing this culture of arts philanthropy in the UK (see recent blog post by Claire Titley, Director of Philanthropy and the Southwest).

BOP will continue its research into the effectiveness of the Catalyst Scheme until 2016, to capture the more long-term effects of the programme. The next phase will evaluate the Tier 1 strand of the scheme as well as carry on exploring Tier 2 and 3 in more depth.

The full Year One report, the Executive Summary and a sample of Catalyst Case Studies can be downloaded below.

– Rossella Traverso

Assessing the impact of a £68 million scheme to help cultural organisations diversify their income streams.

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