Lottie Donovan – Head of Development – Fundraising Talk

On Wednesday we had another one of our amazing Watershed talks as part of the Future Producers course.

Lottie Donovan the Head of Development at the Watershed ignited my passion by giving us quite honestly some of the best advice I’ve heard since working in the arts.

Firstly she asked us to define these four elements of Future Producers in regard to getting fundraising:

What is Future Producers? I said: It is a course that enables young creatives the opportunity to learn new skills and embark on creating interesting and engaging cultural events.

Who benefits from Future Producers? I said: The future Producers, the already established Watershed audience, new and developing audiences and the current Watershed staff (I hope they benefit from our outlandish ideas)

Why should someone support Future Producers? I said: Because it helps young people to penetrate an industry that is incredibly difficult to tap into and without that support from external funding, young people would not be getting this kind of experience.

What impact would a gift have on Future Producers? I said: A financial gift would allow us as Future Producers and The Watershed as a hub of creativity to continue to inspire young people to enter an amazing industry. It is a particularly tough time for young people to start their careers in the arts because of the recession, the competition and the lack of entry level opportunity so being given the Future Producers is a stepping stone into that world.

Enough about what I said:


1. POSITIVE PERSISTENCE – ┬áIt is key to keep trying and not to fear rejection. As it happens to everyone, try, try and try again. Within reason obviously!

2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE – Research the person you are pitching to, understand their background, their job and what institutions they have previously supported. This will help you build rapport with them and show that you have done your important homework.

3. LANGUAGE – If you are pitching to the corporate world use words like, support, gift, funds don’t just bowl in there and say we are looking for money. It is brash and unprofessional even though, realistically that is exactly what you are doing, use that initiative!

4. PROPOSALS – Give the listener three options as this will allow you room to move.

5. LISTEN – To their feedback, their wishes and to the general conversation as you never know when this information might be important for you to use in your future correspondence.

6. STEWARDSHIP – Always thank people whether they invest or not. If they do help you with funding make sure you always inform them as to what that finance has been spent on.

These lessons have become paramount to everything I do now. Lottie’s advice has actually enabled me to have the confidence to pursue my avenues of funding/publicity for my external project, my Death Cafe documentary that I have just completed. This is what the Future Producers is all about, inspiring you to keep pursuing your goals however big or small.