Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust (AVCT)*

Role: Development Manager – employed part-time, one year
Overview: Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust is: heritage, architecture, history, education, nature conservation, local park, café, arts venue, working cemetery, wedding venue and activities for children and the community. Born from a local campaign to save the site from housing development, existing fundraising efforts concentrated on its social and architectural heritage.
Brief, aims and outcome: AVCT was midway though its Catalyst Endowment Challenge issued by the Heritage Lottery Fund – a chance to gain £500k funding if it managed to raise the same. In my year there we raised £120k – twice the average (£60k) of previous years, and 30% increase in on-site donations.

AVCT: campaign re-brand*

Brief: Audited existing match-funding campaign, and re-branded, dropping the phrase ‘Catalyst Endowment Challenge” because of association with mis-sold endowment mortgages and the (somewhat unbelievable) disincentavising statement “£50k has been awarded…”: it hadn’t! Designed new campaing identity: the CEO suggested a campaign logo that integrated the Trust’s logo. We decided on a new name: For a Lifetime.

Before and after:

brand communication charity third sector


AVCT: messaging*

Brief: Change the focus of the campaign from saving heritage to conserving the space as a community resource – with a focus on people.Significantly increase visibility of the campaign with case-for-support brochures and on-site messaging in public spaces. Donations collected in on-site donation boxes increased by 30% in the first two months. One donor, who gave £1,000 to the appeal, said she had done so as a response to the A1 posters shown above (which were displayed near the café). To thank her, I invited her to a 'breakfast bacon-butty tour' – she later encouraged two of her siblings to donate a total of £1,500.

charity communication, fundraising, development,

Also see Arnos Vale case-for-support documents in Writing section.

See Arnos Vale fundraising events

AVCT comedy weekend*

Event: Comedy weekend.
Location: Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol – 100-seat chapel
Role: event co-ordinator, publicity designer, community fundraiser.
Overview: As Development Manager connected with comedian and charity-supporter, Mark Olver to put on two fundraising gigs. Mark invited Dr Phil Hammond and Stuart Goldsmith to perform free-of charge.
Raised: £2,500 (£5,000 HLF-matchfunded) from ticket sales, a bucket collection and bar run by the ever-supportive Friends of Arnos Vale Cemetery.
Engaged: new audience: postcode analysis showed a large number were drawn from outside the Cemetery’s usual local area of support. Show of hands at Dr Phil's gig showed that around 5% of the audience had come primarily to support Arnos Vale's fundraising efforts, and that 25–30% had never before visited the site.

mark olver, comedy, fundraising, charity

Spring Eternal fundraising gala*

Event: Spring Eternal fundraising gala
Location: Arnos Vale Cemetery, chapel
Role: event organiser, event branding, gained sponsorship, project management.
Overview: Gala fundraising event greatly aided by Trustee, Lindsay Telling. Strongly branded, simply dressed event with thrift (flowers in jam jars, volunteer-made desserts) made a feature and reason to suuport.
Budget:  Reduced projected event costs from £21k to just £1,600 by re-shaping planned formal event to an informal evening of entertainment – local and national business sponsorship and pro-bono performances.
Attendance: over 70 guests;  Bristol philanthropists and AVCT supporters including Bristol's Mayor, Lord Mayor and High Sheriff.
Raised:  £7,500 after costs, doubled to £15k by HLF match-funding.
Stewardship: invited non-attendees and interested parties to ‘Breakfast bacon butty tours” elicting further £2,250 donations and interest in future ambassadorship

Video and event photography: Harrison Dowling: