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RSA Catalyst awarded a £2,000 grant to life Fellow William Makower to support his development of a national funding scheme for our arts and cultural institutions and venues. The Catalyst panel was impressed by the strategic idea of a national digital solution, the work done to date and the level of commitment gained across the sector, such as Director of the National Portrait Gallery Sandy Nairne FRSA. The RSA grant was used to develop the graphics for the launch including a representative movie of the scheme in action. In this guest blog William sets out the thinking behind the idea, what’s happened to date and how Fellows can get involved.

The thinking

Arts and cultural institutions are going through a critical shift. 30% cuts from the Arts Council due to a reduction in funding by £350m for the next three years, resulting in over a hundred organisations with their future threatened, coupled with reduction in spending by 24% by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, paints a bleak landscape.

But hope is budding despite the recent downpours; new figures from Arts and Business highlight a growth of 6.4% in individual giving to £382.2m last year.

The task for institutions now is to grab hold of this growth in individual giving and build its momentum. The key to doing this? Digital fundraising, utilising mobiles, tablets and new technological platforms.

The National Funding Scheme, available from March next year, will provide a means for visitors and supporters to use their mobiles and tablets to direct funds to the arts and cultural institutions they wish to support. The scheme’s aim is to raise new funds for the sector through mass giving.

The scheme will address the following issues:

  • Introduces new donors to cultural institutions by providing a national, simple and accessible means

  • Giving needs to tap into the point of high emotional impact (in the cafe after the exhibition, reading a plaque, at the encore etc.)

  • Providing additional means for international tourists to give to our cultural institutions and organisations

  • Providing a means to collect donor details and therefore begin a conversation with the donor

  • The need to 'change the language' around giving - it is not just for the wealthy, but something all can participate in 

The National Funding Scheme will provide a means for visitors and supporters to use their mobiles and tablets to direct funds to the arts and cultural institutions they wish to support

Institutions will be provided with a web portal and brand guidelines to develop appropriate signage for both individual exhibits and entrances/exit ways etc. Subject to donor data opt-ins, institutions will be able to purchase donors’ details. Additional marketing will be provided both by national communication campaigns and, again subject to opt-in, text messaging to registered users.

Findings to date

Panlogic, with grants from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Rothschild Foundation and others carried out over 85 face-face interviews with senior individuals across the cultural landscape and had nearly 950 responses to their online consultation. These findings, along with those identified by Ipsos Mori's independent research found out: 

  • That for 48% of respondents something that shows what is being done with a donation will increase giving

  • 73% of respondents want to allow donors to understand specific things that individual institutions want to raise money for

  • 44% of respondents said a system with flexibility would encourage them to give more to arts and cultural institutions

  • 31% of  respondents said they had made a contribution to an arts or cultural institution in the last 12 months


The launch

On July 2nd 2012 Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Olympics and Sport, Sandy Nairne FRSA, and I announced the scheme at a launch event hosted by the National Portrait Gallery.

The launch was attended by arts professionals, journalists and other industry observers. Sandy’s speech was followed by the Secretary of State giving a warm welcome to the initiative followed by me giving the details behind the scheme. The RSA grant paid for the graphics and illustrations of the product at the event.

We are looking for Fellows who can provide expertise with data, licence sales, mobile payments and marketing and communications. In addition we are looking for Trustees for the charity we are setting up to run the solution, who have the following experience/expertise: 

  • A senior figure with arts/cultural/heritage background that could possibly chair the trustees

  • An ex-development director of a UK arts/cultural/heritage organisation

  • Strong financial expertise and controls

we are looking for Fellows with expertise in data management, licence sales, mobile payments and marketing and communications

If you have (or know anyone who has) this experience, please (encourage them to) register in the SkillsBank, quoting ‘National Funding Scheme’ when you register and you will be matched to the project.

More information, including photos/transcripts/invite list and the full research can be seen at

William Makower is founder of the National Funding Scheme and CEO of Panlogic. you can contact him via

If you have an idea to tackle a social problem in a new way, visit 


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