The Big Idea: allowing visitors to make easy digital donations - RSA

The Big Idea: allowing visitors to make easy digital donations


  • Social enterprise
  • Fellowship

William Makower FRSA has set up the National Funding Scheme which was supported with two grants totalling £7,000 from RSA Catalyst. Our grants helped William develop graphics and a demo for launch events. In this guest blog William sets out the thinking behind the idea and how Fellows can get involved:


There are 5 spaces left for tickets to the press event on Wednesday 27 March (8.30am -10am) at the Southbank Centre, London and 15 tickets for the evening reception (6-8pm). If you would like to attend either please email John Foster-Hill. These will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Willaim Makower speaks to the Clore Leadership Programme
William outlines The National Funding Scheme to a group from Clore Leadership Programme, many of whom are RSA Fellows


DONATE, from the National Funding Scheme (a registered charity) is designed to make it easy to give to cultural causes that inspire and move us when at a gallery, museum, heritage site, by using a mobile phone.

As Sir Paul Ruddock, supporter of The National Funding Scheme and Chairman of the Trustees of the Victoria & Albert Museum, said:

"The UK has some of the strongest and most diverse cultural organisations in the world but we need to ensure that we make it easy for visitors to give and show their appreciation. The National Funding Scheme, something I am hugely supportive of, enables us all to easily make a donation to specific causes by using our phones at those moments when we want to give. It has the potential to not only bring in incremental money, but also to do so from the younger generation."

We need to ensure that we make it easy for visitors to give and show their appreciation... The National Funding Scheme enables us all to easily make a donation, whilst identifying specific causes, by using our phones at those moments when we want to give.

The National Funding Scheme has come to life after research showed that to encourage people to give to cultural causes two things need to happen:

a) the ‘ask’ needs to be made at the point of emotional impact (at the gallery, on the national trail etc.)

b) giving must be friction free, enabled by easy and straightforward ways of giving.

This is delivered through two elements of DONATE. First, the templated signs that provide both an explanation why the venue/cause is in need of support as well as an individual code that identifies donations as being for that specific cause. Second, a full range of payment options (including text, credit/debit cards and PayPal) which can be initiated by a user using QR codes, contactless technology or directly entering the web address.

The National Funding Scheme delivers two other crucial benefits. Incredibly powerful data sets will allow venues to understand the type of people that are giving to them, their giving patterns and how they might encourage additional support. To this end, we are also creating Culture Juice (part of the National Funding Scheme), to provide our partners with expert resource and knowledge in the fields of online giving, digital communication, fundraising, cultural insight etc. so that they can best use this newly available data.

Speakers at the National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is one of a dozen venues taking part in the first phase of the Scheme


The National Funding Scheme is therefore much more than a means to donate. It has been designed to democratise giving, provide data behaviour insights to the sector and support the sector in growing individual philanthropy.

DONATE goes live on 28th March with our launch partners and goes national at the end of this year.

As an RSA Fellow you can help in a number of ways:

  • Attend the launch event (see top of this blog)
  • Encourage your local arts / heritage / cultural charity to sign up. There is no joining or annual fee to be part of DONATE
  • DONATE at a participating organization
  • Join our Twitter feed (@NFSUK) or participate on our Facebook page

Learn more at (new site from 27 March).

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