Following on from Grimsby Creates funding three local creative practitioners to attend the prestigious National Arts Fundraising School (NAFS) online programme, local Executive Director of The Faraway Community Interest Company Laurie Kennedy provides us with a flavour of how the programme went and how it has helped him:

Laurie Kennedy

What is your creative practice?: The Faraway CIC is a community interest company that actively works to create inclusive communities enabling people with autism to raise awareness of autism within their local community and support the community to deliver services that are accessible for all people.

How do you wish to use the learning from the NAFS course?: Using what I have learnt from the NAFS course, I want to develop the way my company presents its services and projects so that they better appeal to their respected audiences and create engaging case studies from them.

What did you find to be the most useful activities from the course?: I felt that the Giving Ladder demonstration was extremely useful and it has really helped my company to rethink the way we present our services and what a donation or subscription can do for the individual.

How will the learning help you solve problems and exploit opportunities?: What I have learnt has developed my understanding of applying to funding streams and gave me the ability to create a tailored approach to a range of different funding opportunities.

How closely did the programme align with the objectives that you initially set out?: My initial learning objectives were primarily around the developing of the membership programme within my organisation amongst other things. Since the completion we have reimagined our whole approach and feel that our practice is seen as much more formidable and legitimate, which are some hard obstacles to overcome in the early days of a company.

Are you able to quantify any other benefits from the knowledge gained?: I am happy to say that, since I completed the course, we have successfully gained more subscriptions and interest from the public. This new approach has been much more effective and, in the long run, we feel positive about making money through this means.

Are there any further benefits that you can highlight from the programme?: The focus on making your website more appealing in one part of the course has led to us overhauling aspects of our website and though we haven’t yet seen any changes in numbers of hits, we feel that the website is much more fit for purpose.

Have there been any unintended or unforeseen outcomes from the programme?: I didn’t think that the course would go as far in teaching how to better implement options to support, donate and fundraise. This addition has been beneficial in developing our online presence and how we present ourselves on social media. This has been through creative usage of tone of voice and more.

What are the main success-factors for you since the programme?: The giving ladder – to both better understand our funders/supporters and to more effectively market to them and let them know what their money can go towards. A multiple tiered membership programme – to appeal to different people with different levels of funding and plans that work for them. A better way to present information – keeping the focus on the stories and the individual will really help us with both applying for funding and telling our success stories in a fun and engaging way.

What are challenges and areas of improvement for you in the future in evolving your practice?: Find sustainable funding for specific projects – We have projects with staff attached to them that benefit so much from the work and the experience that it would be real shame for the funding to fall through, so developing something self-sustaining is the future we want to create to give a level of comfort to us and our employees. Creating and delivering training that caters to member’s wants – this service is still in planning stage but we are hoping to roll out in full-force this year. There is going to be a lot of learning while doing for this project. Event delivery – although we had a successful online launch late last year, we really want to develop the ways in which we create virtual events that resonate with people and convince our audience to become supporters of The Faraway CIC.

Why is the growth of your practice important for North East Lincolnshire?: Our services are unlike any other in North East Lincolnshire and put a heavy focus on Experts By Experience Autistic Individuals. Nowhere in the immediate area has Autism Mentors or delivers services like this that are made for autistic people by autistic people.

In the absence of CDF-funded support, how would you have alternatively sought support?: We would have likely tried to find cheaper or free alternatives. Our organisation is still young and we don’t currently have the funds set aside for internal development but this opportunity has been more than beneficial.

Link to NAFS website