Fundraising from trusts and foundations is a more sociable job than you might think. Development Manager Gina Fletcher takes us through the steps of her rewarding career.

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darts – Doncaster Community Arts (2002 – 2009)

When I got my first serious job at participatory arts charity darts, it meant moving to a small town in Yorkshire that I knew little about.

I joined as Project Co-ordinator and offered general support for the management and delivery of projects. I progressed to Project Manager for the Neighbourhood Renewal and Heritage Lottery-funded projects and eventually was promoted to Arts Development Manager.

I led the programme of work for adults and communities – securing funding, developing the vision and delivery plan for projects, and managing the reporting. When the programme was at its busiest I managed a team of five and multiple projects, including working with adults with a long-term health conditions and long-term unemployment.

I was very close to the creative delivery of the projects and saw the positive impact of the work for participants. It was a really inspiring environment and gave me a brilliant grounding for what I went on to do next.

When darts asked me to return as a trustee in 2010, I jumped at the chance. I’m currently Vice Chair and it’s been so enlightening to see how the company has had to adapt in response to funding changes while staying true to its ethos.

Service Development Officer – Culture, Rossendale Borough Council (2009 – 2010)

The time came to return home to Manchester. I knew I wanted to keep working with the arts and I joined Rossendale Borough Council as a Service Development Officer. I was responsible for the council’s strategic development in relation to culture. It was a broad remit, including sports, leisure and the arts, and I worked closely with the Tourism Officer.

It was hugely challenging to work in a completely different context, but I found it valuable and enlightening to work in a local authority, and especially a district council. I quickly learned a lot about local government, the pressures on funding and what’s important to residents and councillors.

Royal Exchange Theatre (2010 – present)

I joined the Royal Exchange Theatre in 2010 as a Development Manager with a focus on trusts and foundations. My job changed to Senior Development Manager in 2012 in recognition of the fact I’d taken on additional management responsibilities within the team.

This year the theatre needs to raise £850,000 from charitable trusts, individuals and businesses, more than £300,000 of which will be given by trusts and foundations. Contrary to what you might think, it’s a job that relies on getting out there and speaking to people, both in the theatre and externally. The best bit of the job is meeting the people who support our work and being able to thank them in person.

Lots of the applications I write are for our creative engagement and talent development programmes. A recent highlight was working closely with our Associate Artistic Director to secure a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to support our Open Exchange Programme for emerging artists. More than 900 artists are already benefitting because of that grant.

Gina Fletcher is Senior Development Manager for the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

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Photo of Gina Fletcher