Making a Major Gift

The atrium at the Chester Beatty Library – European Museum of the Year 2005

Deciding on what and how to invest in the arts and cultural sector can be a difficult process. The sector itself is made up of many organisations as well as individual artists and cultural practitioners. While the sector by its nature is fragmented, Business to Arts can be consulted independently and without cost if you are thinking of making a philanthropic gift. If you are thinking of making a major gift to an arts & cultural organisation, we can provide advice and guidance. To help your thought process, we have developed some guidelines for individuals who are interested in making a philanthropic gift.

What might help a donor decide if an organisation is effective?

Focus on impact and outcomes 
The majority of arts and cultural donors invest in their passions. They engage and invest in cultural organisations that have had an impact on their lives. As a result these cultural organisations are usually clear about their purposes, vision, mission and values, and have been successful at connecting with their audience and potential donors.

Fit for purpose 
An effective cultural organisation should have the structure, policies and procedures in place to achieve its purposes and mission and deliver its programme efficiently.

Sound Governance
An effective cultural organisation is run by a clearly identifiable board or trustee body that has the right balance of skills and experience to run the organisation effectively. The board or trustee body acts in the best interests of the organisation and its beneficiaries, understands its responsibilities and has systems in place to exercise them effectively.

Accountable and transparent 
An effective cultural organisation is accountable to the public and others with an interest in it. Where a major gift is being made, we recommend that donors should source and analyse recent annual accounts directly from the organisation or from the Company Records Office

Financially sound
An effective cultural organisation has the financial and other resources needed to deliver its programme of activities. It will control and use them so as to optimise its potential. Well managed cultural organisations should have a strong balance of self generated income as well as investment from both public and private sources.

Learning and improving 
An effective cultural organisation is always seeking to develop its audience, improve its performance and efficiency, and learn new and better ways of delivering its programme of activities. Investors should seek continual assessment of the organisation’s performance. Ongoing assessment of a cultural organisation’s programme of activities will feed into its planning processes and will influence its future direction.

Ways to Give 
Over recent years, major philanthropic gifts to arts and cultural organisations have generally been driven by capital investment campaigns or they have been donations of important pieces of art work/collections. Whether you are giving cash or property, we always recommend that you give efficiently and seek appropriate advice when giving. There are a number of laws which enable a tax efficient giving to cultural organisations including Section 606, 848A and 1003 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 and Section 77 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003.

Should you give to many organisations or just a few?
Like the wider non-profit sector, diversification is not a good strategy when giving to arts and cultural organisations. We suggest that you invest in one or a few well-run organisations that match your passion/interests and make a commitment to support their capital and operational needs over time. By concentrating your giving among a few outstanding organisations, your donations will have a greater impact and will help ensure the organisation’s long term sustainability.

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