In a time where fundraising events have been difficult to host, and travel to deepen donor relationships is only beginning to resume, non-profit organizations have had to rely on a variety of tactics and technologies to recapture donor attention and ensure the necessary funding to continue on. Here are some of the imaginative and innovative ways cultural and performing arts organizations have regained donor momentum.
How Did the Covid-19 Pandemic Impact Fundraising?
While donor-advised funds grew 27% in 2020, mostly as a pandemic response, DAFs have slowed over the past year. Some of that may be due to fundraisers seeking out donors with the ability to dispense immediate cash.
But fundraising through donations, whether large or small, which requires the development of deep relationships with donors, marketing infrastructure and a fundraising pipe similar to a sales pipeline, is still proving challenging for many. This is in part due to the hassle of traveling during a pandemic and a shift in donor priorities. In many cases, the pandemic caused big ticket donors to turn their attention toward healthcare charities, leaving performing arts organizations in a bind.
Compounding this, government-funded relief was slow at best to reach the Arts and established support organizations either dried up from overwhelming demand or faced budget cuts that limited their ability to service the cultural initiatives relying on them. Fundraising also changed more in the last two years than in any recent time. A report by Philanthropy magazine points out that many donors have increased their donations to individual causes through crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe or by offering a combination of cash and volunteer services.
With cultural and live performance venues closed for long periods during lockdowns, there was no way for many artists and organizations to generate any revenue through traditional means. The combination of the shift in fundraising trends and the lack of performance revenue meant the Arts and Culture industry had to innovate. Two areas of fundraising that took flight were:
Unrestricted funding– Or, funding that is not specifically earmarked, opens opportunities for arts organizations to address their most critical needs, as discussed in a recent Inside Philanthropy article from late last year. Having the ability to leverage unrestricted donations helped Arts organizations center their artists and staff in the recovery process, expediting their ability to return to the stage when restrictions began to lift.
Crowdfunding– If you can’t beat them, join them. As more big ticket and high net-worth donors focused on the individual and critical causes tugging at their healthcare heart strings, nonprofits and Arts organizations began to use content marketing, social media and the influence of storytelling more strategically and prevalently to capture small and one-time donors. HER Productions in Manchester, for example, chose crowdfunding for its 2022 season, as they recognized that inspiring the general public to support their shows also supports an entire network of freelance talent, performers, stage teams and others within venue and production operations.
How Arts and Cultural Organisations Use Technology to Get Creative with Fundraising?
For many years, box office and fundraising teams at Arts organizations were siloed, using different methodologies, softwares, marketing strategies and CRMs to bring in funding to support their initiatives.Despite the clear overlap between the donor and the ticket buyer, they were, and in many instances, still are treated as separate beings.
Integrated, API-driven software like our Tixly platform has helped break down these silos to the benefit of both the organizations and their patrons. Tixly believes that cross-functional collaboration is integral to the future and resilience of Arts and Culture organizations, which is why we place so much emphasis on it in our software solutions and development.
Tixly customers such as Kulturhuset Ravinen leverage our donor functionality for their fundraising initiatives, as do other revered venues and organizations in our customer portfolio, like Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Theater aan de Parade in Hertogenbosch, Luxor Theater in Rotterdam and Antwerp Symphony Orchestra. Our “donate” functionality directly within the Tixly system, allows these and many other organizations to enable subscriptions or offer event ticket buyers the opportunity to add a donation with their ticket purchases. They can also add merchandise and concession items within the ticketing packages to further increase needed revenue.
With Tixly, you can quickly and easily create a donation, pledge page, or sell ‘donation tickets.’ Organizations can run year-round or event-specific campaigns across social media and email channels, capitalising on Tixly's built-in CRM and CMS features to publish these pages on your website, and include a ‘donate’ or ‘pledge’ button at the checkout, as well as market donation opportunities directly to your donors, ticket buyers and segmented audiences via email.
Vendors supported by the Arts support the Arts
Vendors innovating to help secure the sector’s recovery must happen throughout the entirety of Arts & Culture. It’s a win-win for the arts-focused vendor and for their Arts & Culture customers.
At the encouragement and championing of our friends at the Ticketing Professionals Conference, our team repurposed our gift bag giveaway budget during TPC’s annual conference in March. At the event each year, every conference attendee receives a gift bag. This year, instead of providing brand-emblasoned hand sanitizer or another cleverly designed mug to add to the company coffee cupboard, we encouraged attendees to scan a QR code and select between 3 charities-- Acting for Others, INTIX's PD&E Fund and The Red Cross Ukraine– for us to donate the cost of what would have been their gift bag giveaway. This helped raise awareness of these organizations among attendees, while also helping to create an engaging fundraising/donation campaign.
Arts organizations can (and should!) adopt this approach by identifying their most critical areas of need, setting up a Tixly donations page and let their fans, patrons and other supporters match a donation to the area of the organisation they care the most about, such as their educational programs, support for their talent and productions, their venue repair or purchasing new equipment and instruments.
Hrefna Sif Jónsdóttir