Fundraising Campaigns and The Arts: Major and High-level Donors

24 May 2019 | Donations, Fundraising

Fundraising and donations are a critical part of any arts or cultural organisation. We look at how to kickstart and maintain a solid donations and fundraising programme for your major and high-level donors.

Large Scale Donation Campaigns

Every organisation within the arts and cultural sector will have its own nuanced strategies for fundraising. Some organisations will only implement donations through the Box Office and Online, others will incorporate membership schemes, while still others will nurture relationships with trusts or foundations with high-level donors. Whatever your strategy, it is important to start by identifying your main campaign goals. 

Our team is currently building a fundraising module with the aim of further increasing fundraising possibilities and opportunities within Ticketsolve. The vast majority of your fundraising efforts can already be achieved within Ticketsolve, however, the new fundraising module will allow you to tap into higher level donations. Our research shows that this segment of larger donors constitutes a small percentage of audience members, but is certainly valuable.

It’s evident that high-level donors require a more tentative,  TLC approach to developing relationships. With this consideration, Ticketsolve has devised a template approach.

Within Ticketsolve

Low & Mid-level Donations

The Everyman currently implement a ‘Make a Donation’ scheme gently nudging audience members to consider donating anywhere between €1 to €50. 

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The system is flexible so that your team can create as many of these campaigns within the system as you feel necessary. It is also possible to prompt these donation campaigns as a simple reminder for your audience members during their booking journey.

You can also prompt these at the point of sale online and in the box office. Usually, this is one of the main fundraising revenue generators within venues. Have a look at the example below of Project Arts Centre’s booking journey and how they effectively use the donations prompt to encourage audience contributions.

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Green Belt offers an interesting example of an arts organisation who implement more than one Low & Mid Level donation campaign. In the top donation, Greenbelt reminds their audiences of their registered charity status to encourage them to support their mission to ‘create spaces where art, faith and justice collide’.

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Greenbelt creates a more specific storyline in their bottom donation campaign where they can endeavour to account for your journey to and from the festival. Greenbelt festival encourages breaking creative boundaries and understands that environmental issues are concerns facing a lot of their audience members. In this sense, they have created a story which they know their audience will enjoy becoming involved in and empathise towards.

Membership Schemes

Similarly to Low & Mid Level donation campaigns, it is possible to create as many different memberships within the system as desired. Each membership scheme is linked to a specific benefit.

Each membership scheme is individually reportable within Ticketsolve and can offer a view on each audience member within that particular scheme. This ensures that Ticketsolve can draw a picture of that member for your team so that they can better engage the member relationship.

Diving into the Integration with Ticketsolve

High-Level Donors

Managing high-level donors is challenging as it can be demanding of your team’s time. Automations or standard campaigns are not sufficient in maintaining a strong and confident relationship with high-level donors. Communication with these respected donors will thrive through relationship building. Through pipeline management, the integration with Ticketsolve will allow you to track, monitor, and maintain relationships with high-level donors.

High-Level Donor Tip: Key points and tips around engaging with high-level donors

High-level donors deserve individual conversations. It’s important that they understand that they are unique and an important aspect of your donation campaign. In other words, mass conversations will not inspire a sense of involvement or belonging amongst your high-level donors. Think about what your high-level donors expect and how you can integrate this with your own organisational objectives. Using this as your basis allows you to build an approachable style strategy for your major donor campaigns. 

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Making Your Ask Meaningful

Often, you only get one opportunity to make the ask to high-level donors. This means that you need to be prepared, confident, and in the know about what exactly you are asking. The foundation of "the ask" starts way before the ask itself.

Take for example your basic messaging. ‘Every cent counts’ is an important message for any donation campaign. It’s a demonstration of strategic fundraising and further highlights a sense of purpose for high-level donors.

Building this relationship to the point where donors are interested to hear more about your goals, ambitions, and motivations, means that ‘the ask’ is natural. Your high-level donors will understand your expectations.

Articulating your good cause is important, but so is your output. And this has to be crystal clear for high-level or major donors. What are your goals and strategic direction? How do you plan on achieving this? What will this cost? What are the results you expect? Your major donors are keen to hear how their input is essential in order to execute this campaign.

Tapping into the Wonderful Arts Community

Fundraising campaigns are an opportunity for your high-level donors to be a part of an opportunity and a story. There is a clear difference between creating an opportunity proposal and looking for help. Entice your high-level donors by creating a business proposal. After all, their contribution is an investment in the ongoing work of the arts. An imperative mindset to fundraising is the understanding that you are not approaching your high-level donors looking for a handout, but rather a partnership.

Arts organisations engage with real people from all types of demographics, but regardless of which demographic you are targetting, a real human and emotional connection is what makes for powerful engagements with audiences. Arts and cultural organisations have so many rich stories to tell; we need to choose the right story and make it meaningful for our donor community.

Legitimise your Story with Storytelling

A good story opens your eyes, makes you think - makes you care. A really good story is memorable and it’s actionable. It instils a reaction and makes your listeners want to do something as a result. How you articulate your brand, your purpose, and your identity, are all important aspects of your storytelling.

Like a good joke, a good story can be distilled into one line. Through this one line, we can encourage our donors to share our story, share our passion and share our involvement. When sharing your story you might be inclined to play it safe and be too polite. But often, it is the boldest stories that get the best results, so don't be afraid to take a risk with your storytelling. 

When you think about your story, consider positioning it within the wider arts community setting. This helps to frame your story and your own organisation's place within it. 

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Head, Heart, and Hand

Below is a great way to put structure on your fundraising strategy and plan. 

  • Head represents the purpose of your campaign. It’s an opportunity to outline why you are undertaking this campaign. This is the part of your campaign where your audience members ‘get their head around your campaign’.

  • Heart is the hook of your campaign - the reason your donors are going to empathise with your campaign and cause. This has to demonstrate the "why get involved" but in a way that is emotional and human. 

  • Hand represents your ask. Be precise and coherent, otherwise, your donor will be asking ‘what do you want me to do?’. Ask them for their contribution and remember the earlier points discussed, you only have one opportunity and you are not looking for help, you’re offering them the opportunity to become part of your story.

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Once you have your donor on board the next step is ensuring that you make them feel special. These are the heroes of your fundraising campaign and deserve a bit of promotion. It also encourages others to consider becoming major donors as well.  Get feedback from your major donors on how to improve, what they would like to see more of and remember to revisit your Head, Heart, and Hand strategy. 

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