Interim findings – Catalyst: capacity building programmes

The team at DC Research have been working with Heritage Lottery Fund since mid-2014 on the evaluation of the HLF Catalyst: capacity building programmes, which aimed to increase the capacity of the heritage sector to fundraise from private sources.  Whilst the evaluation is on-going, we recently completed the Interim Report and thought it would be useful to share some of the headline findings from that report.

A summary of the Interim Report is available via:

We reflect on some of the key findings about the two strands of HLF Catalyst: capacity building programmes – the Umbrella programmes and the Small grants.

Earlier in 2016 we consulted with all nine of the Umbrella programmes and surveyed the Small grant organisations, as well as carrying out case study visits to a sample of good practice Small grant projects.

Key Findings - Umbrella Programmes

  • The need for HLF Catalyst is even more pronounced now than it was when the programme started, especially in the context of on-going austerity and public sector spending cuts.
  • Capacity of the heritage sector to engage with Catalyst is an on-going issue and there is also an on-going issue with low fundraising confidence in the heritage sector. 
  • Across the Umbrella programmes, one key success is the scale of engagement achieved – i.e. the number of participants/organisations that have received some form of support, training, mentoring, etc.
  • As well as the scale of engagement, Umbrella programmes are pleased with the level of positive feedback received about the various activities delivered.
  • Overall, the Umbrella programmes have also reported that they have reached and engaged with their specific target beneficiaries (type of heritage and geography).
  • Common impacts include: increased confidence (general confidence and confidence specific to fundraising); changes in fundraising practice; attitudes towards fundraising; awareness of fundraising issues; and appreciation of the importance of fundraising.

Key Findings - Small Grants

  • All Small grantees have, or are developing, a fundraising strategy - just under two-thirds already have one in place.  Furthermore, all grantees indicated that raising income from private sources formed a part of their fundraising strategy.
  • Nearly all Small grantees (94%) indicated that raising income from private sources was either ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ to their organisation. 
  • 80% of Small grantee organisations felt that they were either ‘significantly’ or ‘moderately’ better managed as a result of their HLF Catalyst: Small grant.
  • The vast majority (83%) indicated that the organisation’s staff had developed skills to either a ‘significant’ or ‘moderate’ extent due to the Small grant project.
  • The great majority of Small grantees felt they were now more resilient- almost 85% indicating their organisation was ‘significantly’ or ‘moderately’ more resilient.
  • Just less than three-quarters of Small grantee organisations stated they had brought in additional private money to a ‘significant’ or ‘moderate’ extent.
  • Over 92% of respondents indicated that the legacy impact from the Small grant project was expected to continue into the foreseeable future.

The evaluation findings provide evidence that there has been progress for both Umbrella programme beneficiaries and Small grantee organisations against key outcomes including better management; skills development and more resilient organisations - with emerging signs that this (so far) is being sustained beyond the end of the Small grant projects and the Umbrella programme training/support.  A key issue to assess going forward towards the end of the HLF Catalyst programme will be the translation of the skills development, increased confidence, organisational culture shift, and changing attitudes into one of the key outcomes – bringing additional private money into the heritage sector.

Outcomes and Impacts – in Umbrella beneficiaries’ own words

“The main difference for us is that fundraising is at the heart of the organisation and everyone is encouraged to have a go.”

“…has been an invaluable programme for us, we were starting from scratch and had little experience… I am certain that we wouldn’t have progressed as far as we have without both the formal training events and the extra support the staff have given us…”

“Since participating in the Trusts and Foundations workshop, I have led three successful applications, albeit for fairly small amounts of funding … In all three cases, a little research meant I was able to exploit contacts to enable a conversation and found that when the ask was made, they were very amenable.”

Outcomes and Impacts – in the Small grantees’ own words

“Clearer strategy for fundraising and CEO taking a role in driving forward improvements - a small specialist group of staff is working to deliver the fundraising strategy.”

“I think the fundraising training we had for staff and trustees was crucial. In creating awareness of the challenges and in looking at all of our work in terms of projects that could be funded.”

“Fundraising culture embedded throughout the Trust including Management Committee - achieved by cascading funding information and knowledge to all.”

“The grant allowed a series of changes to be made to processes and for materials to be produced (including a new website) that significantly enhance our capabilities in fundraising and member development; these were seen as essential prior to undertaking the expansion of the [organisation] to broader fundraising and membership goals.”

Moving forward, it is likely that heritage organisations who are giving consideration to applying for grants from HLF’s new Resilient Heritage programme can learn from the experiences of organisations that have developed their capacity through both the HLF Catalyst Small grant programme and also those that have benefited from support from the on-going HLF Catalyst Umbrella programmes.

Any thoughts and contributions on this are welcome.


View Stephen Connolly's profile Stephen Connolly Sep 6 2016 - 9:22am
  1. Really useful summary of the report, thanks. It's good to see the impact that both of these funding programmes are having and how that's helping organisations deliver some really successful work around their fundraising plans and capacity.

    In terms of the challenges you highlight too - this is an area of work that HLF can now support under the new Resilient Heritage programme, so we'll be keen to see how work in this area progresses.

  2. View Catherine Elvin's profile Catherine Elvin
    Offline | Last seen: 1 year 11 months ago
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