Catalyst Programme comes to an end

Over the past 4 years, Cornwall Museums Partnership, with support from Heritage Lottery Fund, has delivered the successful Catalyst business support programme for museums in Cornwall. As the final phase of this programme comes to an end, we wanted to share some of the successes of this practical and effective programme with you.

Museums from all over Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – as far apart as Bude and St Mary’s, some with no paid staff and some with over 20 members of staff, have benefited from the skills workshops, and provided us with feedback like ‘an excellent balance of learning and practical exercises, the trainer had a wealth of experience’ and ‘very interesting, informative and useful. Lots to share with others and leads to follow-up. Thank you.’

A number of museums have also benefited from mentoring and further business support to help them develop effective fundraising strategies, these organisations have measurably increased their confidence, skills and resources over the course of the programme.

The time and support to write our fundraising strategy has come at exactly the right time. Because of our tiny staff capacity, without the support provided by the Catalyst programme, we would have struggled to make any headway at all.’

Trustees and staff have gained a much greater understanding of the challenges we face and the steps we need to take in order to fundraise successfully.  There has been a profound organisational change insofar as everyone now understands and accepts the need for change and for a major focus on fundraising.’

Readers may view below videos – case studies of museums who have participated in the second and final phase of the Catalyst Programme, namely, Cornwall’s Regimental Museum, Helston Museum and Truro Cathedral.

Catalyst Training Courses continue to offer valuable skills

With four training courses already taken place and twelve more to go, the Catalyst Skills Programme has been successfully delivering high quality skills development to help museums thrive, by maximising their fundraising skills. . The Catalyst workshops are carefully designed, and delivered by highly experienced sector specialists and industry experts. The workshops cover a very wide variety of topics – from marketing, PR and social media, to  finance skills for fundraisers, partnership-working, volunteers and trustees’ role in the fundraising process, and many more; there is always something for everyone. The workshops are significantly subsidised through funding from HLF, which means they only cost £20 (instead of £180) for a full day of skills development.

If you are serious about fundraising and helping your museum shine, then make sure that you secure one of the last few places remaining – 2017 is the last year that the Catalyst Programme will be available in Cornwall.

Next up:

May 9: Marketing and branding – The dark arts

May 10: Digital Magic – Websites, PR and Social Media

June 6: How to take your fundraising digital

June 7: Crowdfunding and other digital fundraising stories

For a full list of our upcoming Catalyst training courses, visit our online shop here.


And in case you didn’t know… All of the Catalyst workshops are organised and delivered by Cornwall Museums Partnership with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of the Catalyst Skills Programme. For further information please contact Yiota, the Catalyst Programme Coordinator, at:

Top 10 (ish) Tips for Legacy Fundraising

Legacies raise over £2bn every year for charities in the UK, that’s a fourfold increase since the 80’s, and it’s set to continue over the next 40 year years.

Here are our top tips for effective legacy fundraising:

  1. Research, research, and a bit more research. This is integral to a successful campaign. If you run a membership scheme, identify which members have been on the scheme for more than 5 years; do you have a record of who has donated to you before; if your un events do you have a group of people who are always engaged; and don’t forget your volunteers and trustees. In America they use the principle for their boards of “give, get (their friends), or get out” when it comes to fundraising.
  2. Have a great case for support. Explain clearly and passionately why your organisation needs a gift, what difference it will make, and what will happen without it. Tailor your message to the person you’re talking to – again, research and planning are essential.
  3. Start with a legacy campaign. Legacy fundraising should become a natural part of conversations with supporters, but this takes time to develop and can only be done successfully if the right message is embedded throughout your organisation. Start by adding a strapline to all newsletters, emails, websites, leaflets etc.. Something simple like “remember us with a gift in your will”. If you’re going to approach people directly it needs to be done in a strategic way and tactfully. A word of advice – if your museum has never been in touch with someone directly before, don’t make that first contact about asking for money. You can create leaflets specifically relating to legacy or run an event where you have the opportunity to talk face to face with potential donors.
  4. Start conversations. Research shows that talking to people face to face increases the likelihood of them leaving a gift. Invest in the time to properly train your volunteers and staff to identify appropriate times to have a legacy conversation, and how to introduce the topic.
  5. Careful stewardship reaps rewards. Some very simple actions can make a big difference: make sure you keep an accurate up to date record of who has expressed an interest in leaving a legacy, make sure you thank them – in writing from the Director or CEO, ensure they always receive the highest level of customer service, even a small annual event to thank people – behind the scenes tours, meet the curator etc… all help to engage people with the museum and it’s aims.
  6. Allow sufficient time. Legacy has a 40:1 return on investment, but it’s a long term investment, often over many years. Don’t expect quick returns and plan your strategy and resources to reflect this.
  7. Don’t include Legacy income in your annual budget.
  8. Measure what you do. If you don’t know which methods of communication have been successful how do you know what to focus your resources on in the future.
  9. Legacies are not ‘difficult asks’. Professor Russell James talks about legacies being a reflection of someone’s values and experiences. Asking people to consider giving to an organisation and a cause that they’re passionate about is something to be proud of.
  10. Remember – ‘people give to people’ – Eric Grounds.