For the last two years, Rosalie Courage (President of RBR Development Associates Ltd.) and her team have been working with 10 local non-profit arts organizations as part of Business & Arts NL’s ArtSupport NL program. The program, which provides professional fundraising support through training, coaching and mentoring, has helped participants collectively increase their fundraising revenue by 55 per cent. This month, as Phase 2 kicks off, those 10 organizations will continue their work and this time, four new organizations will join them for the ride.
We spoke with Courage about what the next leg of the journey holds.
Business & Arts NL: You’ve been with the ArtSupport NL program since it kicked off two years ago. This round, you’ll be working with the same 10 groups, as well as four new ones. What can participants expect this time around?
Rosalie Courage: For the group that’s continuing on, we will continue to coach them. Our coaching is very customized to their situation. You can put 10 people in a room, but they’re all in different stages and levels and conditions in which they have to forward their fund development programs. So we will continue with the customized coaching for them and…providing them with the tools, making them think differently, because it’s meant to be an education as well, as we move forward. It’s not just telling them what to do, it’s so that they understand what they’re doing so that when we’re gone, they can continue on.
With the four new groups, we will be doing a half-day session with them and bringing them up to speed on…all the fund development programs that are there, and then we will start zeroing in on which would work best for them and then that coaching will begin. We will also develop fund development plans for them, so that we have something that we’re going to be following through on…The three (coaches) that we have right now have more than 30 years experience each. So we’re bringing a lot of experience to the table, and they are very familiar with most of the circumstances that these people find themselves in…it’s not one size fits all. The coaching that I’m doing with one group may be very different than the coaching someone else is doing with another, based on the resources and the time that they have to dedicate to this. So we work with them to maximize all of the resources they have that they can bring to their fund development program, and also to have it within a timeframe that makes as much sense as possible to them. However, they can expect to be challenged on occasion, in terms of moving forward and keeping pace and keeping momentum, because that’s very much a part of it as well.
Business & Arts NL: When it comes to fundraising, what is one of the biggest or most common issues that you see nonprofits come up against?
RC: When it comes to nonprofits of this nature, especially in the arts, you get people wearing many hats. So again, it comes down to resources. There are certain times of the year that are very busy for some groups and they have to sort of dedicate themselves and then we’ll try to make up the time later on and so on. But it’s really about them keeping some sort of pace when they’re being pulled in many different directions…and if revenue is important to them, and I would say in 100 per cent of the cases that’s true – revenue and augmented revenue is important – then as much as ticket sales or funding programs from government and so on are important, this also has to have a place. So it’s constantly making sure they’re making time to grow this branch of their revenue stream.
In order to get to the next level, where they may be able to hire more resources or offload some of the things that are on their table to someone else, then they could spend more time on this branch of revenue generation, they definitely have to keep it moving forward. But there’s also another resource that’s out there, and we have encouraged them very strongly to really access this particular resource – is volunteers.
Business & Arts NL: Is there anything else in particular that you’d like to mention?
RC: I’d like to say that we feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work with arts organizations in Newfoundland, because these organizations have done extraordinary work. They are doing some things that are absolutely fantastic. And it does resonate, we do feel that from them in most cases. And we do appreciate that they are working hard to really try to advance their program and we do understand that from time to time there are challenges, but there are opportunities. We’re coaching them through it, but they’re going to make it happen and they’re going to make a significant difference. If they can get over these hurdles and they can build a program, it will make a significant difference in their programs, their festivals and what they’re trying to do and deliver in their mission. And I think for the new organizations that are coming on, we’re really looking forward to welcoming them and to working with them in these initial stages. We hope they will come with an open mind and a little bit of grit (laughs), prepared to do the work as the others were. We look forward to getting started.
(This interview has been edited for length.)
Capacity for Stream 1 is limited to 10 existing and four new participating organizations. Expressions of Interest for organizations interested in joining this program for the first time are due no later than 11:59 pm on May 20, 2020 (click here to complete the form). Once approved, BANL will notify you that you are ready to register for the program.
If you are an existing ArtSupport NL participant, you can start work with your coach from RBR immediately. This program allows for sessions every other week until fall 2021.
This project has been made possible [in part] by the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation. Ce projet est financé [en partie] par les gouvernements du Canada et Terreneuve et Labrador.
ArtSupport NL is modelled after programs in Manitoba and Australia focused on building professional fundraising skills in the arts sector.