Posted Dec 13 2021
Spotlight on YAF: Katherine Rolland, Director of National Development

We are kicking off a new series to go behind the curtain – think Vogue’s 73 Questions series meets arts fundraising – and introduce you to the people behind YAF.

To start us off, we spoke to Katherine Rolland, our Director of National Development, about her role at YAF, her enthusiasm for hearing YAF member’s success stories, and her own relocation from London to Yorkshire.

Name: Katherine Rolland

Job title: Philanthropy Manager, National Railway Museum

Role at YAF? Director of National Development

Which means…? I am responsible for YAF engaging with fundraisers based in the regions and expanding our reach across the country. Prior to this I was the Yorkshire Representative for YAF helping with in-person and digital events in the area. I joined YAF in 2018 and have really enjoyed watching us grow, increasing our presence in the regions and in the sector as a whole. I am most excited to work with the team in getting back to in-person events and expanding our network into new locations.

How long have you been a fundraiser? I was introduced to arts fundraising in 2014 when I joined the Orange Tree Theatre. My role as Administrative Assistant meant I had a year long crash course on theatre administration and working closely with multiple teams, including the fundraising team. From there I moved to Kiln Theatre (Tricycle Theatre at the time) to work on their Patrons and Membership schemes, as well as small trust and foundation applications. At Kiln I had my first experience of contributing to a capital project, as we renovated the auditorium and front of house spaces. It was fantastic fundraising for a building, you can go back and look at something physical and say: “I helped to do that!”

In 2018, I left London and moved to York to join the National Railway Museum. After nearly four years I am now the Philanthropy Manager, responsible for the museum’s Patron and Legacy programmes, as well as building our major donor portfolio for our current capital project – a £55.3m transformation of the entire site! There’s this myth that all the exciting projects happen in London, but, with more people leaving the capital and donors and government increasingly turning their attention to nationwide funding, I think living and working regionally is only going to get more exciting…

What’s been your YAF highlight so far? Co-hosting the 2021 Cultural Sector Network conference was definitely a highlight. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet individuals from across the sector, with really varied experience of organisations and projects.

What inspires you, and what do you think YAF can do to inspire others? I am always inspired when I hear what others have achieved in their organisations. YAF is a network designed to share stories and help each other succeed. I love hearing from our members on what they’re up to and what ideas they’re developing. Fundraising is an ever changing and evolving career, there is room to innovate and improve, no matter if you’re a longstanding Director of Development or new to the profession. I hope YAF gives our members the opportunity to share their learnings and experiences so that, collectively, we can inspire each other.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Be more confident. Like many people, I have experienced imposter syndrome in the past. I would say trust in yourself, never be afraid to ask questions, and enjoy your role!

YAF is run by volunteers and we’re always keen to hear from you – so get in touch if you’d like to be more involved, send us feedback, have any questions or simply say hi.

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