Case study:Achates Fundraises: The Watermill Theatre

At a moment of significant change in the organisation, working with Achates has helped us to cement our purpose and develop our strategic fundraising plan. The Theory of Change process has enabled us to share with trustees and the leadership team a deeper understanding of the needs of our communities and the value of the work we create. This has put us in a strong position to embed our renewed purpose with the wider team. Additionally a full review of our fundraising has identified the opportunities for development and growth, setting us in good stead as we move to a future without statutory funding.

Claire Murray, Executive Director

Photo credit: Pamela Raith


The Watermill Theatre is small but mighty; bringing together talented makers and artists in its unique inspiring spaces and facilities, and supporting them to find creative innovation and push the boundaries of their theatre-making. The Watermill’s belief that theatre belongs to everyone, and its deeply held commitment to using theatre to support people to thrive, fuels a vibrant programme of work which reaches out to bring communities together to explore their own creative potential.

In November 2022, the organisation learned it would not be part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation programme from 2023-2026, after over a decade of regular funding. At this moment of significant change, Achates worked with the senior leadership team to provide high-level fundraising support, which included assessing the company’s contributed income to identify key opportunities for growth to support a new business model and enable its ambitious artistic and participatory work.

Achates led on the development of a Fundraising Snapshot to inform a 3-year strategy to raise and sustain voluntary income over the period, and supported the team as they began to enact the plans. Building on this work, Achates then undertook to develop a Theory of Change with the senior team and Trustees, to create a decision making framework and case for support tool which clearly articulates the change The Watermill is driving through its work, and for whom.