Posted Jul 19 2022
A Year in YAF: 2021-22 in Review

What a year it’s been! As we come to the end of a YAF season, we’ve round up some of our key takeaways and highlights from our wonderful year of events, which we hope may leave you wanting more.

Thank you to everyone who has joined us throughout the year, for speed mentoring sessions, panel discussions, coffee mornings and our first in-person networking drinks in over two years! We are also grateful to all our panelists, speakers and mentors for sharing their time and expertise so generously.

YAF is run by a team of volunteers, so if you want to get more involved and join a fun Board, we’re recruiting: if that’s you, we can’t wait to hear from you!

We’ll be back with more events and opportunities in the Autumn, so stay tuned – have a good summer, and see you soon.


From Interviewee to Interviewer: Moving to the Other Side of the Desk

We kicked off our event season in November with a brilliant event on how to prepare for your first role as an interviewer. Our panel of fundraising, management and HR leaders – Elizabeth Balgobin, Nicole Newman,and Nick Boothroyd – offered some fantastic advice on how to step up as a leader in your organisation, including:

✅ When writing the job application, make it clear and transparent, and think about how you can make the job and organisation as attractive to a potential applicant as possible

Prepare ahead of the interview. Make sure you read the applicant’s CV and application. Be prepared to talk about the role and the organisation in more detail.

✅ Remember that recruitment is a two way process. Prepare to be fresh for each candidate, and give everyone the same experience, allowing the candidate to find out more about the organisation. Make them feel at ease, so they can perform at their best

✅ Make the candidate aware that you will be making notes, and that you will not always be looking at them. Our panel recommended using a scoresheet, which allows you to grade the answers e.g. 1-5 and to make notes. 

✅ Don’t discuss the candidates with the panel until you have finished the interviews for the day. This will help you keep a fresh mind, and not be influenced by others’ opinions. Remember that comparing a candidate to the person they are replacing is unrealistic. 

To continue learning about this topic, here are a few resources we’ve collated:

✅ Panelist Elizabeth Balgobin wrote The Change Collective Guide for Hiring Managers – The Chartered Institute of Fundraising

✅ ‘​10 things to think about before you recruit your first Fundraise’ – Charity People

✅ ‘How to write an inclusive job advert’ – Creative Access


Relocation, Relocation, Relocation! Finding Your Feet in a New Region

In December we welcomed Imogen Kinchin, Executive Director at New Adventures, and Kirsten Peters Roebuck, Associate Producer at Unity Theatre Liverpool, who shared some brilliant insights on finding your feet in a new role in the regions. Some key tips and highlights included:

📌Be proactive about meeting people – attend events and workshops to find like-minded people, seek out existing networks, take up offers to be introduced to people, use LinkedIn to reach out to peers; you will need to put yourself out of your comfort zone but it will pay off.

📌Figure out how you can be an asset to your new community – what skills do you have that could be useful to offer?  Joining a board in your local area can also help grow your networks and connect to what’s happening in your region. 

📌 Take advantage of young persons memberships and local discount schemes to get to know your local arts scene. Pursue your interests and hobbies – you might find unexpected connections, and it will help your work-life balance

📌Don’t feel like you’re leaving your old home forever: keep your networks,especially now that Zoom and hybrid working models are more popular. Be an ambassador for your new place and old place, and where possible be a connector between them.

📌 And lastly, if you are looking at moving areas and are going to have to travel into major cities frequently, consider your rail networks and comfort when travelling – especially plugs and WiFi reliability! 


Exploring the Landscape of Fundraising

2022 started off with a cracking discussion about the current job landscape, salary negotiations and stepping up to a new role.  Our fantastic panel, Christina McNeill, Julia Price, Tom Ryalls and Tessa Stanley-Price, shared some key tips, such as:

🌟 Preparation is key: When looking to initiate a discussion, research your own company’s strategy and policies around pay, talk to colleagues, reach out to peers, look at other job adverts in the sector – all to gather benchmarking data to support you.

🌟 Start recording your achievements to build your own case for support. Look at the number of hours you work and your overall impact – the relationships you hold, the partnerships you bring, the income you help generate, especially if you are doing more than your job description – to calculate your value to the organisation and back up your pay rise request.

🌟 Be aware that conversations around your pay are a process, and your manager also has to respond to other senior managers or organisational needs you may not be aware of. Be clear about your goals and how you hope to achieve them – keep a paper trail of the process that you can refer to, and give your manager a timeline and a structure so they know you mean business!

🌟 If you get refused a pay rise, take the time to understand why and ask how you can work towards asking again in a set amount of time. It may be for reasons independent to you, like organisational budgets. Or if it is never going to happen, is there a career move you may want to consider? You can also look beyond your job for professional development opportunities, such as volunteering or becoming a Young Trustee.

🌟 Remember your worth when you set your own freelance fee, without giving in to imposter syndrome. Take into account that you don’t get pensions, time off or sick pay, so don’t underestimate how much you will need to charge!

🌟 Don’t be afraid of fixed term or maternity cover roles, especially if it’s a step up. They are a great opportunity to try something new and grow your knowledge; after the year you will have made valuable contributions to your overall career progression.

🌟Be open and transparent, and remember: it’s still business. While you may want to appear eager to ‘go above and beyond’, there is still a toxic tendency in the art to incentivise employees to work longer ‘for the passion’. Make sure you can demonstrate the value that you bring, and don’t be afraid to be honest about what you want to achieve.


Speed Mentoring

In March, our Speed Mentoring was back for a special digital networking double bill to celebrate International Women’s Day, bringing early-career and senior fundraisers together to make connections.

Our stellar line up on mentors, highlighting the myriad of ways in which women have shaped the fundraising sector, included Elisha Owen Head of Corporate Partnerships & Events at the Young Vic Theatre; Sonja Lahiff, Assistant Head of Grants and Trusts for English Heritage; Deborah Myers, Head of Development at  The Science Museum Group; Katy Raines, Founder and CEO of Indigo; and Chloe Brand, Head of Corporate Development for The National Gallery – and we’re so grateful for their advice and guidance in 1-2-1 sessions.

If you’re interested in mentoring, you can read more about Evolve, YAF’s annual professional development programme, here.


Networking 101

In April, we were lucky to welcome Isabel Sachs, founder of networking platform I LIKE NETWORKING, for a lively and exciting Q&A about kickstarting your networking journey, increasing your confidence and making the most of networking, online and in person. 

Below are some key takeaways and top tips we’ve collected from the discussion:

🌟 Networking is not only telling people about your job. Think about three things that define you without talking about work, and bring that energy when introducing yourself: don’t forget that we connect with people, not with job roles.

🌟 Online networking is great if you are starting out, as it allows you have total control over the conversation and edit the profile you want to share. Take advantage of your online presence when reaching out to someone via email or social media, and make sure that your message is personalised and tailored to them – people can always tell when it’s a copy and paste! 

🌟 In person, if you are shy or worried about making the first step, flip the perspective: go up to someone else in the room who seems quiet and ask them how they are. Remember what you can offer as a person: be curious and interested about others, and ask a lot of questions. And of course, make sure to take their contact details if you want to follow up the next day.

🌟Craft your personal elevator pitch to position yourself and your story in a compelling way. Introduce yourself by telling your interlocutor who you are(your name), the context (think about who you’re talking to, why you’re reaching out to them and what you want to get out of the situation) and why should they listen to you – so think about what you can offer too. Don’t be scared to get a no – it simply means they’re not the right person for you.

🌟 Don’t forget that networking is a two-way street. The beauty of the creative community is the power of the collective – it takes an extensive and eclectic team to deliver. We all have something to offer, so network with that in mind.

You can check out Isabel’s work and sign up to updates from I LIKE NETWORKING on their website, here.


Regional Coffee Mornings

Throughout May, our National Development team hosted our nationwide coffee morning series, delivered in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s RAISE: Arts, Culture & Heritage programme. 

Covering South East, West Midlands and the South West, our coffee mornings are the perfect opportunity for networking, reflection and to share ideas with other fundraisers in your region. Get in touch if you’re interested in joining or hosting one!


In Conversation with…Directors of Development

In June, we held an enlightening discussion with Liz Draper, Director of Development at Opera North, and Diana Spiegelberg, Deputy Director at Somerset House, about the highs and challenges of their career progression.

If you missed the conversation, below are some key advice and food for thought from the discussion:

🌟 Whatever your position, use it to find out as much as you can about various other roles and parts in your organisation. The ‘next step’ does not mean simply leaving – it can be putting yourself forward for new projects or suggesting new processes. 

🌟 Equally, don’t get too tied into one organisation and make sure you have an identity beyond your current role. Changing roles can be a way to progress quickly, while going freelance can be an opportunity to hone specific skillsets and try different specialist areas.

🌟You will never know if you are fully ready for your next big role – so give it a go, apply and see what happens. Don’t forget that fundraising skills are a premium that every arts organisations needs.

🌟Never be afraid to ask for advice, whether to peers or more senior stakeholders. Don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own: build a personal network in the sector, who can offer different perspectives and advice as you progress. They will be an invaluable resource to rely on!

YAF Summer Networking Drinks

And finally, in June, we were thrilled to see many of you in person for the first time since pre-pandemic. Check out some photos from the event below.

Thank you to all who joined us to celebrate the final event of this season with a relaxed evening of networking – we can’t wait for more occasions to connect with the YAF community.


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