Sage advice on fundraising

Last week I attended my first Arts and Business Scotland’s Arts Members Development Forum meeting held at the National Museums of Scotland. There was a great turnout and lots of time to meet old friends and make new ones and it would have been lovely to have seen more museums there.

Business of the day included the great news that the sponsorship grants scheme, Arts match funding had been extended. Kevin Harrison, Executive Director of Artlink Central then interviewed Irene Kernan, Director of Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop as part of the regular fundraiser-to-fundraiser conversations.

The main guest speaker was Lucy Bird, current Director at Marketing Edinburgh Ltd and former Director of Marketing and Development at The Sage Gateshead. In 2000, Lucy was appointed to the post of Director of Marketing and Development for The Sage Gateshead, the spectacular Foster designed £70 million music and arts centre on the bank of the River Tyne that opened in December 2004, a role she held until June 2011. As well as being responsible for all streams of private and public sector fundraising including the creation and strategy behind The Sage Gateshead’s endowment fund, she was involved in the design of the internal facilities in the building, responsible for policy and strategy creation and implementation for marketing, media and PR, and customer services, including catering and retail.

The Sage Gateshead by Wojtek Gurak on Flickr

During her time at the Sage Gateshead, Lucy led revenue fundraising that totalled over £15m. Lucy shared her experiences of both pre- and post-opening – the challenges, the highs and the lows and provided a fascinating insight into balancing the delivery of a capital project whilst remaining dedicated to securing its operational future through raising revenue funds. Lucy discussed the process of corporate sponsorship, the role of the Board in fundraising, the opportunities of legacies and the need for up-skilling professional fundraisers. In 2003, Lucy’s successes were recognised when she won the Garrett Award, a national award in recognition of a significant professional achievement in fundraising.

I found the afternoon to be thought provoking and inspiring and felt there was much for the museum sector to consider and I look forward to seeing how the marketing of Edinburgh as a destination develops under her direction.

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