Very early on in the planning process for an event we draft a budget for the expected activity, this will be a fairly detailed breakdown of the income and expenditure (although at this point lots of it will be educated guesswork…a mixture of optimism and realism) This initial draft might end up bearing little resemblance to the final outcome but we’ll use this as a live document that we continuously revise as the project develops.
Our expenditure budget for any event no matter the size will have the same overall summary broken down into:
The income summary might vary quite dramatically though depending on the scale of the event and if we’re selling tickets or it’s free access, we might use crowdfunding tools or ask for donations. For the Timber Festival the expenditure breaks down like this:
Trusts & Foundations
From there it’s easier to break down each area into a targeted action plan for how to achieve that income line and who within the team is responsible for it – for some events one person will deal with all the fundraising.
If we’re building up partnership and sponsorship plans or applying to trusts and foundations it’s important to allow enough time for this, some funding applications will have really long lead times. And deciding where to allocate time and resources is really important.
We start by working out who elses priorities, ethos and enthusiasms align well with ours and then pursue them as a priority – this could be a company or a charitable body. Having clear plans before we start for what we want the outcomes of the event to be also makes completing those funding applications much easier. Although a mixed income model is likely to prove most successful I sometimes try and monitor how much time is spent on each area so that I can evaluate more accurately the success rate.
Our first ports of call when looking for funding for woodland arts and cultural activities are:
Arts Council England and whichever Local Authority the activity is taking place in (this could be the communities team or a cultural or visitor economy team). As well as their own funding they will both offer advice on other sources of funding available.
Funding databases where you can specify your needs are useful, like Funding Central.
Also important is not underestimating the benefits of garnering support in kind, this could be man power from volunteers, materials, goods and services from local or national businesses with a similar audience, or advice and guidance from other organisations. Because it’s slightly more intangible it’s easy to undervalue but if managed in the right way can make an event viable and sometimes is the thing that creates that momentum once out the other side of an event to make you feel like doing it all again in the future.