The Fundraising Working Group and Fundraising Outreach Group met again in January.  This time, we were delighted to welcome Prof Joann Fletcher as a new member of the Outreach Group.

The EES Local Ambassadors Programme was the major item on the agenda for the Outreach group meeting.  We are delighted that Jo has agreed to spearhead the programme, and to bring to the Outreach Group her own perspective and those of local members Vanessa Foott and Ildiko Kalnoky, in Bristol and Yorkshire respectively, who are doing so much, so enthusiastically, to promote the work of the EES and recruit new members – with some promising early results.  

We were delighted to welcome Prof Joann Fletcher as a new member of the Outreach Group. © Dr Amr Aboulfath.

We were all energised by Jo’s enthusiasm for the programme, and her determination to show that the EES is still relevant to the general public today. Jo said that many people she speaks to think that the EES is for academics only.  When she tells them otherwise, they are excited about being able to be part of an organisation that is continuing to excavate, research and train in Egypt.   As someone with a high public profile herself, Jo is very well placed to communicate her infectious enthusiasm far and wide,   through local organisations like the WI and Rotary Clubs, local museums, local newspapers and radio stations, and many other channels.

Carl Graves has produced a great resource pack (below), with fundraising literature and promotional items to help Local Ambassadors to spread the word.  We discussed what else could go into it in the future, and how we could perhaps host an event for Local Ambassadors and prospective new recruits in due course.  The pilot test of the programme ends in May and we will then consider the lessons learned and how to upscale the programme from then on.

The Local Ambassadors programme is one way of tapping in to the under-used volunteering potential of the EES membership.  This is something members frequently raise with me and I agree with them.  There is considerable potential among the EES membership for volunteer support.  We already have some, of course, and we are very grateful for their help, which is invaluable. 

However, the experience of working with the armies of volunteers in bigger charities has taught me two things.  One is that, however willing and able volunteers may be, they are not a free resource.  Volunteers need to be briefed on the work they do, equipped and supported to do it, and debriefed afterwards.  They also need to touch base from time to time with someone with the authority to resolve queries and make decisions.  All this takes up permanent staff time, and the more volunteers there are, the more time this involves.  We are very fortunate, with the Local Ambassadors Programme, to have Jo as a “Super-Ambassador”, acting as a focal point for the others, helping them to develop a consistent approach and dealing with any questions they might have, and thus relieving some of the demands which would otherwise be made on Carl’s time.

The second thing is that sometimes, volunteer programmes can grow so big, so quickly, that they become victims of their own success.  I have seen major national programmes brought to an end, because the enthusiasm of the volunteers created more demand than they could supply, the management and other costs were escalating beyond a sustainable level and, as volunteers reached an age where they no longer felt able to continue, there were not enough people forthcoming to replace them.

It is essential that, as the EES grows and develops its own volunteer support, it does so in a managed and sustainable way.  Pilot testing the Local Ambassadors programme, developing the resources to support it and expanding it in stages will help us to do that.

On 5 February we had the first private evening event for EES Patrons. The evening was a great success, with Cedric Gobeil presenting his work at Coptos and Penelope Wilson presenting her current work on the Delta Survey.  Chatting with Patrons over a glass of wine afterwards confirmed to us that, for many, the Society’s work in the field remains the main reason for continuing to support the EES.

On 13 February, Cedric and I had a very helpful meeting with John Billman, Chair of the Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society and a Fundraising Outreach Group member, to tap into his professional marketing expertise and explore ways of promoting the Society’s fundraising messages, particularly through its events programme. 

At its January meeting, the EES Board re-stated the importance of fundraising to achieve the strategic vision of the Society, together with the importance of remaining an engaging and attractive Society for potential supporters.  The Board concluded that the EES’s collections should play a more prominent role in EES communications and our research strategy. We are therefore recruiting a part-time Collections Manager.  This will free up some of Carl’s time to focus more on fundraising, among other things.  As fundraising is becoming an ever more important aspect of EES work, Carl will be taking the Institute of Fundraising online certificate course, beginning his studies later this month. We wish him well with the course and strongly support his wish to acquire a professional qualification in this essential specialism.

The next and final meeting of the Fundraising Working Group and the Fundraising Outreach Group will take place on 27th March.  The scoping phase of our fundraising work will then culminate in a discussion at the EES Board of Trustees Strategy Day on 27 April, at the Delancey offices, kindly put at our disposal by EES Trustee Anandh Owen.  By popular demand from the Trustees, fundraising will be a major item on the agenda.  We will be aiming to agree the shape of our longer-term fundraising infrastructure, to take us through our transition to a research institute, and beyond.

Finally, as Margaret has pointed out in her Chair’s update, several seats on the Board will become vacant at the AGM this autumn, and we are keen to recruit a new Trustee with a strong track record of fundraising, particularly in relation to major donors, trusts and corporate donors.  If you would like to stand or know someone else with the right experience, the link to the nomination form is here.

With best wishes,