Knowledge Centre Blog

Trends in arts fundraising 2015

2015 Arts Fundraising Trends

By Andrew Hetherington and Rowena Neville.

The fundraising landscape for arts and culture has changed considerably in recent years. Reducing Public subsidy has resulted in many arts organisations actively working to diversify their revenue streams by engaging individuals, corporate and trusts/foundations in their mission. At the same time, there have been State initiatives aimed at simplifying fundraising (eg. Section 848a changes), and enhancing fundraising in the non-profit sector (eg. Charities Regulatory Authority).

Competition for every euro fundraised is significant. Arts organisations are engaged in a substantial catch-up game against many worthwhile causes (health charities, sports organisations, schools and universities) that have invested substantially in fundraising over recent years.

A key aim of the Business to Arts project New Stream, is to enhance arts fundraising & management practice in Ireland. With this in mind, we’ve identified 10 trends in arts fundraising that we believe will have an impact on Irish arts organisations’ fundraising achievements in 2015…

Asking & Thanking Well : Unfortunately, individuals, companies and other private organisations are not waiting to hand over money to arts organisations. Three simple rules of giving that arts organisations should have when fundraising are that potential supporters have to be predisposed to your cause; they have to be asked to support it; and if they are asked, they should be thanked whether they support your organisation or not! If you/your arts organisation are not out in your community, engaging people regularly with a compelling case for why your organisation and it’s programmes should be supported, you will not see substantial increases in your privately fundraised income.

Investing in Fundraising : In 2015, more arts organisations will be resourcing full-time fundraisers. Some Irish arts organisations now have 3 – 4 full time employees in their fundraising department. Where fundraising departments exist, these roles are typically separated into the management of friends/members; corporate supporters/sponsors and major-gift fundraising. This separation of duties is enabling more focused fundraising approaches and is helping to ensure retention by engaging and delivering to different types of supporter.

Organisational Fundraising : Yes, having (even) one full-time fundraiser will help with fundraising, but it takes an organisation-wide approach to have a transformational impact on fundraising. Successful arts fundraising means having well developed links/strategies with all other aspects of arts governance and management including; programming, marketing, sales, customer service and finance. Arts organisations that are most successful with fundraising are keenly aware of this!

Governance and Transparency : With the Charitable Regulator coming into effect in 2015, Boards of arts organisations will have to give specific focus to governance practices and transparency in the coming years. If your organisation is not up-to-date with the Codes of Governance for Charitable Organisations and Fundraising Codes of Practice, now is the time to familiarise yourself. Your donors will expect this!

On Board : With fundraising a major focus of all arts organisations, Board Members of arts organisations can make an important statement by financially contributing to the organisation relevant to their capacity. Becoming a Friend or making an annual donation (within your means) is an important first step in understanding fundraising at your organisation and will help inform how you (as a Board member) can add to the fundraising success of the organisation.

From Friends to Investors : More organisations will see the value of investing in and developing their friends and membership programmes. A network of people giving annually at a modest level provides a list of predisposed people to have ‘bigger’ conversations with (about major-gifts, one-off/cause-related campaigns and legacies) further down the line.

Corporate Portfolios : Some arts organisations are focused more on bringing together a portfolio of corporate partners to help deliver their objectives. Typically this type of activity is successful at corporate contributions/investments of less than €15,000.

Title Sponsorships : 2014 saw a handful of Title Sponsorships emerge and grow, primarily among Festivals and commercial Arts Events. Tiger Beer and Dublin Fringe Festival joined forces, and our friends at Sky Ireland committed to a further two years partnering with Cat Laughs Festival.

Onside Sponsorship’s Annual Sponsorship Industry Report suggests that many sponsors see Festivals as cost effective sponsorship opportunities. With this in mind, we’ll be watching out for Onside Sponsorship’s Annual Report in early 2015 for sponsorship insights (related to Arts and Music Festivals) and will be publishing our own Arts Sponsorship Report in late 2015 to help inform those interested in title sponsorship and other arts sponsorship opportunities.

Online Giving : Online giving is becoming an important segment of the arts fundraising market. It is primarily relevant to ticketed venues & festivals, particularly when small donations are integrated with online booking/ticketing, and to artists and arts organisations interested in crowdfunding.

With Fundit, Kickstarter and Indiegogo now regularly used by Irish creatives, we expect approx €2million to be crowdfunded by Irish artists and arts organisations in 2015. If you don’t know about how people from around the world can pool their giving to support your arts project, have a read here.

It’s more social to be direct : Arts organisations are beginning to question the value of committing substantial resources to social media as a communication channel for fundraising and wider marketing activities. 2015 will see a turn back to engaging more directly with the people who have commit to be on your arts organisation’s database. We believe a worthwhile activity for early 2015 (as well as all the above) is focusing your efforts on ensuring your fundraising processes (databases, personnel, collateral and web) are up-to-date and effective at converting contributions.

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