If you had to pick just one thing nonprofit organizations have in common, it would most likely be something along the lines of “doing good in the world”. And what a thing to be proud of! Nonprofit organizations have this amazing privilege of serving their communities whether it’s through educating the next generation at a post-secondary institution, feeding the hungry at a food back, or inspiring people to care about creativity and passion at a local theatre company. They all matter.
Although we may all be running to a similar goal of fundraising for our nonprofit, the way we get there often looks different. If you work at an arts and culture organization, you most likely believe that art matters. And that’s your biggest selling point. You believe it. Now, who else does? No, you’re not solving world hunger through your nonprofit. But you are bringing joy to people, encouraging self expression, and showing how art can connect us all in community.
To encourage even more people to jump onboard, check out these great tips and tricks on fundraising in this industry. And for more reading on the subject, check out this blog post here.
People love to learn; especially those who care about your cause or are frequent patrons. Try getting connected with a local school to offer an after-school art program. Or try sending your theatre troupe to perform free acting classes or performances in the park. The idea of combining art with education is a perfect one to bring the community together. The more the community feels like you are giving back and providing culturally-relevant entertainment, the more they will value your organization.
If you work in education you probably think in semesters. If you work in healthcare you probably think in “which season is flu season”. In arts and culture, you probably think in performance runs or exhibits. Your seasons usually depend on your major events and performances. The more you know about the calendar of events at your organization and even in your surrounding city, the better you’ll be able to plan for fundraising campaigns. So start with a calendar, some highlighters and post-its and start thinking through what that looks like. The reality is that most of your schedule has already been set and you simply need to work within that framework and plan ahead.
Arts organizations literally have people lining up at the door. This is an incredible opportunity! Do you know your customers? Are you asking your customers questions? Are those answers being tracked? You’ll want to make sure that this process is simple for the customer and simple for you. A great way to do that is to have a system of record like a Donor Management System. You can also expand your questions into online customer surveys or even in-person interactions like a booth set up at your event. Tracking your data and keeping it organized is key to making the most of this opportunity.
Donor rewards are a perfect way to thank your donors and keep them engaged in your cause. The great thing here is, you already know that they are interested in arts and culture. So why not make your rewards with an arts and culture theme! A few examples could include backstage passes, signed programs, art classes from featured painters, preferred seating, special nights out with performers, etc. Not to mention all the tried and true “swag” gifts that people love like mugs, pens, tote bags, etc. Art is fun – giving should be too. This is also a great way to bring in new donors – make sure they know what they’re missing out on!
There are so many teams that make up a successful nonprofit. Sometimes teams can feel like they are competing with one another. In the arts and culture industry, the teams that seem to be most “at odds” with each other are the marketing/promotion team and the fundraising team. The marketing team might be protective of the “leads” they get from promotions because their end goal is to sell tickets. The fundraising team might in the same vein, feel that enlisting new donors should be the main focus of every event. But remember that in the end, it’s the same team! Getting patrons and getting donors are both so important to the ongoing vision of your organization. The more work that can be done together between departments, the better.
A fantastic way to encourage more comradery here is to communicate. Make sure that both teams are aware of efforts made by each team. And this also gives the opportunity to share in success! Be sure to celebrate the great work you’ve accomplished together.
Don’t forget about your board! If you are looking for ways to expand your donor pool and dive into untapped possibilities – your board is a fantastic way to begin. The arts and culture scene is an amazing one because of the amount of networking and collaboration that happens organically all the time. Sometimes board members need to be reminded of their incredible network and encouraged to spread the word. They already care about your cause, but do their cousins? Or their colleagues? Or their fellow board members from previous nonprofit work? Using a relationship mapping tool like RelSci is a fantastic way to dive into relationships and networks. Check out their blog post about relationships here.
Your next-level fundraising begins with fundraising intelligence. By using a tool like iWave, you can both open the door to finding thousands of more donors and learn more about your current donors. Incorporating prospect research into your fundraising will allow you to be confident that you are making the right ask, to the right person, at the right time. And with wealth screening, you can segment hundreds or thousands of individuals you know very little about into a prioritized list of prospects. These strategies can help take your fundraising to the next level.
The nonprofit world is always changing with new gadgets, new tools, and new strategies. Did you know that arts and recreation account for about 3% of all nonprofit jobs in the USA according to this 2019 report? That may seem like a small number, but nonprofits combined account for about 1 in 10 jobs in the private U.S. workforce. You know what that means? Learning opportunities. Chances to collaborate. Working together.
At the end of the day, never stop learning! And if you need help or guidance, ask.
About the author: Liz Corney is iWave’s Content Marketing Manager. She has a degree in Journalism, is a fiercely positive team-player and a creative self-starter. She has experience working in software technology, video/mobile games, learning & development, social & traditional media, and communications. Liz is also the co-founder of a local nonprofit organization working to better the lives of homeless women in her community.