Barbican: Reach your fundraising potential

Ebony-Gale Ward is a Development Officer and Executive Assistant at Barbican, a London Based performing arts centre hosting classical and contemporary music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. Her role in fundraising has dev eloped over time but when she saw the opportunity to take part in the Corndel Diploma in Fundraising on her employer’s intranet she took a chance.


Can you tell me a little more about your current role and management responsibilities?

My role covers many aspects of fundraising and charitable activity within Barbican. I was brought in as an executive assistant and development officer but worked across many areas, supporting the whole team and the development director. Our organisation operates more like a public sector body, similar to a local authority than a traditional organisation, and we have a dedicated charitable arm that I am responsible for. My role incorporates high-level charity governance, and I have discovered just how committed I am to a future in fundraising.


What was helpful about working alongside other learners in other charities?

Definitely, I often get paranoid that I’m not doing things correctly, so it was great to come together and have peer assessment with other learners. People came from all backgrounds and contexts, which meant we all experienced new perspectives and insights; it was especially helpful for me to hear other thoughts on my work and cases. One of the most valuable things to come from the course was one presentation I did. I thought everyone had the same understanding and experience as me about funding in the arts and had a massive wake-up call when my presentation needed to break down considerably. It taught me how important it is to know your audience and ensure your communications are properly tailored to them. The language I was using was suitable only for the relatively small art world and nonsense to the general population.


How has the Corndel Diploma in Fundraising programme changed your approach to work and how are you applying it in the workplace?

The programme has taught me just how important it is to forget all about assumptions. It’s important not to assume someone is on board with something simply because I’m enthusiastic about it.

It has helped me learn how to reach the right people and keep things simple and uncomplicated, increasing the chance of success in fundraising bids and applications. I have also learned many important technical and regulatory specifics of the commission, code and GDPR.

Did you benefit from the one-to-one coaching offered throughout the programme?

Gemma was great; she gave the impression she was there just for me and had an excellent grasp of my background and case as a learner. Everyone learns the same content, but the Professional Development Expert sets it apart with context and familiarity, making it easier to apply this to your individual work environment.


Do you have any advice or guidance for anyone considering the programme?

Be ready for the challenge and set time aside for the programme. I tried to avoid working weekends but sometimes had to and tried to set out a day committed to the work. It’s also vital to make sure your team are aware you’re participating in the programme, as I occasionally had to remind colleagues and team members who tried to involve me in other work whilst I was working on this. Make the most of the experience, especially the one-to-one sessions and be ready to get back into the learning headspace, which can be a challenge after several years of work.

You might also be interested in…