Introduce your Catalyst: Endowment or Small grant project

One of the main reasons we have created this community is to link up our grantees to share knowledge and experience. Tell us a bit about your project in the comments below.

For example, you might like to share: 

  • Where is your project
  • What is your focus?
  • What is the heritage?
  • What issues have you come up against and how have you solved them?

Don't forget that you can find out more about the capacity building services on offer from the Catalyst Umbrella projects here.

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Submitted by (not verified) on Wed, 11/26/2014 - 17:17


Our catalyst project has been to develop our fund raising capability, to generate the £275,000 we needed to redevelop our regimental museum and to launch a program of activities with schools and the community.  Our heritage is the history of our regiment and our soldiers, at war and peace, since 1794. We cover Kent and the County of London, and our museum is at Hever Castle in Kent.

We found the catalyst award extremely useful, in that it gave us credibility when approaching other large grant-making organizations. We were able to reach our fund raising target within 9 months of starting. About £45k came from private donations, the remaining £230k came from grant-making organisations. One of these was the HLF Our Heritage scheme, which gave us £100k – we applied to HLF last, after we had secured the rest of our funds.

Before launching the appeal, our annual income was about £2000. So raising £275,000 was going to be quite a challenge. At the outset, we imagined that most of our grants would come from corporates, high net worth individuals and livery companies. In fact we got very little from these sources. Instead, our large grants came from various trusts and organisations which we researched, having used part of our catalyst grant to buy nine days of training and research from an independent consultant. We filled out lots of applications, and I guess in the end we became quite skilled at application writing – the process really focused our minds on what is the product we are creating, and what are its benefits.  People started buying in to our story, and we got great word-of-mouth recommendations.

One issue we have is that we said we would create a Friends scheme, and it is proving quite a challenge to get traction. Our personal donors have been happy to give money, but are not especially motivated to join a Friends scheme. Many museums are telling me that such schemes are more trouble than they are worth.  I suspect we will be focusing more attention in the coming months on developing our new Volunteers scheme.

The other issue is that we earmarked quite a large part of our catalyst application to create digital outputs to support our fund raising, and then found that it has been physical outputs that have been more necessary. So, for example, we created physical models of the exterior and interior of our museum, to take to various fund raising and consultation meetings. While digital outputs will be very much a feature of our museum and program of activities, for the fund raising itself, and the strict purposes of our catalyst grant, they have proved less important. Still, we have another six months before our catalyst project ends, and will be busy testing new ideas for digital outputs that could help sustain our ongoing fund raising needs.