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An ArtsProfessional feature in partnership with Ticketsolve

Being purpose driven and mission driven through the pandemic set Farnham Maltings up for success long into the future, just when they needed it most, as Paul Fadden reports.

image outside building of Farnham Maltings
Creative arts centre Farnham Maltings, Surrey

Farnham Maltings’ dedication to their mission has helped them raise over £70,000 and ride out the Covid storm. And their focus on a cause and commitment to their role in their community has helped them to position their value and secure long-term sustainability. 

Their mission: “We are committed to improving the quality of people’s lives across all the communities we work with.” Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings.

With the help of Ticketsolve, Farnham pivoted from an arts and culture programme to offering community services that supported the elderly and vulnerable in particular. They were able to adapt quickly to challenges of the pandemic precisely because they stayed focused on their true mission. 

In a sense, the pandemic showed Farnham who they are and what they do in the community. This shift was critical in their understanding of their value within the community. Moreover, this also showed the community how much Farnham is at their heart. 

Achieving organisational sustainability

The relationship between your organisation and your mission is key to sustainability in today’s climate. Philanthropic trends across the non-profit sector are showing a shift away from people generously giving to an organisation towards an increase in donating to a specific cause. 

Mission-driven organisations have strong cultures, resilient teams, and focused decision-making capabilities. Arts organisations are by their very nature purpose driven and mission driven. They have a deep reason for being. 

Not only are your audiences and attendees highly motivated by your organisation’s mission, but so are your teams, your donors, and your board. Your mission is the reason they contribute their time and efforts to your cause and not another. 

Of course, simply having a strong mission and a worthwhile cause does not justify the value of sustaining your organisation. Arts organisations are faced with more pressures in resources and financing than any other sector. Organisational sustainability in the creative industries means that funding bids can sometimes heavily impact ‘who’ and ‘what’ to prioritise in order to achieve it. Creative teams are sometimes pressured. 

What if your organisation vanished tomorrow? 

But for Farnham Maltings, it wasn’t a case of mission or money. They used their mission to position themselves as an asset to their community. One that would be sorely missed if they vanished tomorrow.

For example, Farnham worked with the town council to create the Coronavirus Support Fund. In two short days the fund raised £50,000, which was used to purchase essential items for vulnerable people. To date, the fund has given over 200 awards for items including children's clothing, washing machines, and school uniforms. 

Like many institutions, the pandemic took a financial toll on the organisation. Even after availing itself of all support, Farnham was at risk of having to cut loose valued programming and workshops due to lack of funds. Enter the Spring Forward Fundraising Campaign at Farnham where the community donated £70,000 to help secure their future in the community. 

When mapping out the campaign, there were numerous discussions about what might best help them achieve their target amount. After consulting with a very experienced fundraiser the team at Farnham decided to keep it streamlined and use Ticketsolve.

They understood that as a hub in the community and with many vulnerable and isolated people needing help, their mission - to help make people's lives better - was one they could still action despite the pandemic. 

Preventing mission drift

Mission drift happens slowly, one decision at a time. It can threaten an organisation’s growth and ultimate purpose. Organisations that clearly define their purpose and mission, and activate values to support them, are well positioned for long-term success in a rapidly changing world.

These purpose- and mission-driven organisations are clear about why they exist and how they plan to achieve their objectives. They’re well-equipped to navigate change, disruption and rising expectations from employees, customers, partners and their communities. They also have a good understanding of how to efficiently use their resources by analysing the data at their disposal. 

True mission success is nearly impossible to measure as the most meaningful results of arts organisations are intangible. It’s not about the number of tickets you sell, but the impact of your organisation has on your audience members. You can use data to help you stay updated with how your mission impacts the lives of your audiences. 

This is most important now given that after a two-year global pandemic, their interests, preferences, and motivations have changed. Understanding your data will help to guide your decision making and prevent you from distorting your mission. 

Data-driven mission cycle

Measuring your mission success is an interactive process. Your mission informs the resources you need (time, volunteers, funding, generated revenue) and your data will help you to measure the success of your impact efforts. 

This data then feeds straight back into the motivation of why you are doing what you’re doing which in return motivates your staff, your volunteers, your donors and your audience segments to engage with your organisation meaningfully. 

Ticketsolve Data-Driven Mission Cycle 

Ticketsolve is planning a major 3-year project looking at creating sustainable practises for the sector. Over the next three years, we’ll be focusing on a massive knowledge-exchange project that aims to share new learnings for the sector. 

We are looking to create and inspire transformative change for arts, culture and heritage organisations through innovation. We are and will be actively working with your peers, members of the Ticketsolve Community, policymakers, and other industry agents. 

Your involvement is key to creating these changes. Throughout the process, we’ll be building a network, and this is your invitation. Stay in touch and keep updated. 

Paul Fadden is Managing Director of Ticketsolve. 


This article is part of a series of articles, case studies and industry insights looking at the power of data to inform strategic decision making.

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Photo of Paul Fadden