This past November at our Fundraising Now conference, we got the chance to chat with some of our Funds Online users in attendance. In part of our new blog series, we will be sharing these conversations and the amazing work these funders do.
We caught up with Clare Wichbold on the first day of the conference to ask her a few questions about her experience using Funds Online. Clare is the fundraising manager at the Courtyard Centre for the Arts and has previously used trustfunding.org.uk for six years. She transferred over to Funds Online in January 2019 on launch and recently reported raising £25,000 using Funds Online.
The Courtyard is Herefordshire’s Centre for the Arts is a theatre and arts venue in Hereford. While being primarily a receiving venue for events, The Courtyard also produces in-house, including an annual Christmas pantomime as well as productions by a youth theatre and community company. The centre was the first major new build Arts Council funded National Lottery capital project in England and opened in September of 1998. The Courtyard continues to apply to a range of charitable trusts and foundations to support community engagement activities, especially education and outreach projects.
As fundraising manager, Clare works with trusts and foundations to fund projects and programmes undertaken by The Courtyard. When asked about her work and the importance of the work done by The Courtyard, Clare said “It’s Herefordshire’s largest community art centre, in fact pretty much the only community art centre. As well as having a theatre, we do a lot of outreach work with children and older people. We were the first theatre in the country to have dementia-friendly status, and so we’ve had a programme working with older people for a number of years and we have ongoing projects as part of that.” Dementia-friendly status is a recognised process by the Alzheimer’s Society for organisations that support, respect and work to understand people with dementia.
“We managed to get a grant [for this programme] through using Funds Online, I spotted a funder, and we had a grant which has been used on a project in care homes around gifting. We look at gifts of activities, so it may well be that they’re able to come to The Courtyard and see a performance, or a film, they can do arts and crafts activities in the home where they are living. So it’s a really good chance for them to still participate in things such as music and film which they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.”
While using Funds Online had helped Clare obtain funds for specific outreach projects for The Courtyard, Clare had actually been using trustfunding.org.uk prior to her current role with The Courtyard. Clare, who has built her career holding various positions within the charity sector said, “I previously worked at Hereford Cathedral, where I used it for five years. And then when I moved to The Courtyard a year last August, the first thing I thought was I would really like to have the DSC funding database.”
Of the platform, Clare recounted “The search function is really great. Especially with the changes and the upgrade, I’ve found that really helpful. As just an individual search, the way you can now record who’ve you applied to, how you are getting on with things, both the successful and unsuccessful ones”.
“I do make good use of the dashboard. I’ve found it a really, really useful feature to keep track of what’s going on with the bidding that I am doing. I check on the updates on the funders I’ve saved as well just to see how things are”.
When asked if she has found using Funds Online has given her a competitive edge, Clare admits, “In Herefordshire there are that many people involved in fundraising, so we tend to do a lot of sharing. So, in some respects it’s absolutely great. I know there are one or two other people using Funds Online, if they spot something they’ll say ‘oh have you seen X’ so we do actually share with each other.” In addition to support within her community from fellow fundraisers, Clare has also found support using Funds Online and the Directory of Social Change. “I looked at Funding Insights. The other thing as well is I really like the regular emails from DSC, I find those really helpful to keep up with what is going on within the sector. You can get quite isolated working in a place like Herefordshire, we’re a long way from London, so to have the opportunity to get information at your fingertips is really great.” The Funding Insights page on Funds Online keeps users up to date with the latest news in the fundraising world.
Most importantly, when asked if she has been successful using Funds Online, Clare revealed, “There have been several successes. One in particular which I found from searching; we received a grant of £25,000, which will go towards work with older people. We’re very pleased about that and there are a number of them that we are still waiting to hear back from.”
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Find out more about the amazing work happening at The Courtyard Centre for Arts