Growing Donors is critical for any arts organizations. Go beyond!
It has long been the practice of arts organizations to create strata for donors based upon the dollar amount given to the organization. While the name given the level of donation might provide a certain social status, I purport that that is just not enough to fully engage, and keep fully engaged, the individuals and businesses that have generously given.
While it is fundamentally important to nurture all internal and external publics, nurturing the donors is essential. Corporate sponsorships help defray the costs of a specific production. Subscribers guarantee a portion of ticket sales for individual productions and “puts butts in seats”. Fundraising is, more often than not, a fluctuating revenue stream.
Most art organization administrators and managers will quickly acknowledge that it is the monies given by donors that ultimately keep their bottom line in the black. Donors are frequently the backbone of the financial revenues that keep doors open and artists working.
Two statements utilized within the corporate world ring very true when dealing with donors:
1) There is no substitute for personal contact.
2) Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
Events and perks designed specifically for donors and awarded at different levels of contribution greatly assist in keeping donors not only as valued patrons but as trusted friends within the inner circle.
Keeping in mind personal contact and letting the donor know how much he/she is valued, a few perks to employ can include:
- Lapel pins
- Special receptions for donors to meet the artists and staff
- CDs/DVD of presentations
- Pre-show receptions with artists
- Special seating sections within the venue
- Special parking spaces during presentations
- Back stage or behind the scenes privileges
- Adopt-an-artist participation (Dinners together, pre-show interaction with the artist, sending personal notes of congratulations, etc.)
Each perk should be awarded as the level of donation increases. These perks not only serve as an incentive to increase the level of contribution, they encourage attendance to the artistic venue.
By Peg McRoy Glover
Next: Growing the Arts Audience: Volunteers