Relationship Management – what does that mean?


My name is Helen and I’m Drake Music’s Relationship Manager. This is a great job title to have but you may be wondering what I actually do all day.  The simple answer to that is that I help DM to manage its relationship with the outside world (with funders, with partner organisations, with donors, with individuals, with the media) –  as well as our internal relationships across the DM network…However, the reality is a bit more complicated…

Relationships are at the heart of everything we do, so my work brings together all four strands of DM’s work. The role covers many things – so for example while I am not solely responsible for DM’s marketing, this is clearly an important part of raising our profile and building new relationships. Similarly with fundraising, PR, etc… My job is all of these things and none of these things, at the same time. Confused yet?!

The role is funded by ACE through the Catalyst Arts scheme, which aims to help organisations to build up their fundraising capacity and resilience for the future. A key part of this is making DM more attractive to potential donors, funders, and collaborators. Clearly the content of our work is not a problem here, but could we be ‘selling’ it better? So, my starting point for this work was to take a look at how we talk about what we do, both externally and internally. How well do we communicate what we do to an audience who perhaps don’t know anything about our world?

One of the main challenges is that DM operates in a unique way. With three offices around the UK, a largely part time, freelance workforce, and four distinct strands of work, presenting a consistent identity is difficult. After talking to members of staff, partners and supporters, I was able to draw up  10 ‘Key Messages’, a handy way of communicating clearly what we stand for. This formed the basis of our new communications strategy. We also developed a digital ‘communications toolkit’ which all staff can now access. More to tools will be added to the kit over time, including our forthcoming DM film!

The next step is to start extending our networks, whilst at the same time keeping our already loyal supporters on board. I am currently working on our case for support, gathering together a wide range of information on the impact of our work to demonstrate the difference we make. This will be a vital part of DM’s future fundraising activities. I’m also looking at how we work with our advocates, and setting up an individual giving campaign that will be launched later this year.

Why is all this important? Well, the answer is we can’t do this alone. We need people to understand the amazing and life changing work that DM does so they will want to support us, whether financially, through working in partnership, sharing expertise or participating in our projects. There are 180,000 registered charities in the UK and it’s important that our voice is heard.

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