for Arts
& Culture
A group of people, some sitting, some standing, in front of an artwork. One man is wearing a dark apron covered with paint splashes.

Project Artworks Turner Prize

A Philanthropy Toolkit – getting started

For those arts organisations who are new to working with philanthropists, we have drawn together some useful resources in several key areas.

The resources provided here are designed to start to demystify the process, and provide some introductory tools for arts organisations seeking to increase their philanthropic giving. We have included links to external sources including HMRC, ACE, the Institute of Fundraising and several practitioners in the field of charity and arts fundraising which are intended to act as a starting point for those looking to engage in working with philanthropists. However, no responsibility is taken for the contents of these third party sites.

Read on for more information, and you can also download the toolkit as a pdf for future reference.

Download the toolkit as a PDF


We have also produced a simple guide to getting started in philanthropy which may be helpful if your organisation has never raised money from individuals before.

Download the simple guide

1. Making the case for support

The starting point for almost all fundraising initiatives is to identify why any donor should support your organisation. One of the key elements that has been highlighted by the NPAC research is the importance of cause. This is at the heart of both community based initiatives and nationwide causes such as, for example, how to extend the benefits of music in working with children with special educational needs or how to improve the quality of life in a particular place. Cause also should be at the heart of why charities exist and should run right through descriptions of activities in annual reports of charities rather than just showing up in Statements of Public Benefit. It should be at the heart of measurement of outputs and outcomes. Our case studies present the work of 40 organisations and their societal impact – examples of how to construct a case for support.

See the section on The Case for Support for more information.

2. Create a culture of philanthropic support

Once the case for support has been articulated, how might a philanthropist make a donation? It’s important that everyone in the organisation is on board and knows about how people can donate. You’ll need to make sure it’s really clear how people can support your charity rather than just why they should, and communicate that on your website, in print, on social media and at your events. Once you have your first supporters, make sure that their support is visible (even if they prefer to stay anonymous).

3. Find supporters

For most charities, the thought of looking for new donors can at first appear a little overwhelming. However, we have gathered a few tips to assist arts organisations, and provided some links to useful resources.

For arts organisations, a good place to start is typically our audiences. A conversation with existing supporters is often beneficial: are they able to introduce friends? Might they be able to increase their support? Philanthropic gifts do not have to be large; small monthly contributions add up.

In time we hope that NPAC’s regional networks might be able to match donors to arts charities, and to identify donors with interests in a particular societal cause which relates to the societal impact of arts organisations; our network in Sunderland for example is exploring a brokerage model to connect recipient arts charities to individual supporters. Meanwhile, the national network of community foundations may also be able to assist.

4. Make the ask

Often arts charities, both large and small, report that the most difficult part of fundraising is asking for financial support. There is an old adage ‘If you would like to receive money, then ask for advice and if you’d like advice then ask for money.’ Here are a few resources to help with the all important fundraising request.

There are numerous online platforms for collecting donations. These include:

Create different levels of giving for donors

When you ask for funds, it is important for a donor to understand both what their funds will support (articulated in the case for support) and what, if anything, they will receive in return for their donation.

Here are some example individual fundraising schemes from across our sector, which set out clearly the way in which donors’ support will help the organisation, and navigate some of the more complicated gift aid rules (the ability to claim tax on donations back from HMRC) for donations at different levels of financial support (see also Understand the Rules below).

Note that gift aid rules apply differently within a venue such as an art gallery where supporters can attend many times for one membership, to a performing arts organisation where benefits offered are valued directly when a donation is made to a particular scheme.

The Art Fund runs a fundraising advisory programme for smaller art galleries looking to raise funds to support particular exhibitions or the purchase of a work of art.

Art Happens organises crowd funding to support regional galleries.

5. Understand the rules

Charities, including arts organisations, are able to claim back the 25% basic rate tax on donations from HMRC under the Gift Aid rules. Donors who are higher rate taxpayers can reclaim the difference between the basic and the higher rate when completing their tax return.

The rules relating to charities and fundraising are governed by charity law, with regulation by both the Charity Commission and HMRC. Here are a few links to get a new fundraiser started. Arts organisations should take independent advice on legal and taxation matters where particular questions arise. If a charity is registered for VAT, then there are rules relating to VAT and exempt income such as donations. Charities are advised to take their own independent VAT advice.

6. Look after your donors

Once you have received a donation, it is important to look after your relationship including basics like thanking donors for their gift.

In 2016, John Grain Associates carried out some research into charity acknowledgement of donations, looking at how charities thanked donors, how often, and how this varied with different levels of donation.

See also – Lessons from America – 21 Ideas to Refresh your Donor Stewardship