It is the end of the year and many arts organizations are gearing up for end of year fundraising campaigns. One of five of all donations made during the year happen in the final week of December. Here are some things we've learned about successful fundraising for the arts:
Go for an emotional connection
Emotions drive giving. Why do animal charities show dogs behind bars or children's charities show emaciated kids? Because these images elicit powerful emotions that drive giving. How can your appeal bring out emotions? Most people who go to performances do so because they have an emotional connection to what is on the stage. How can you elicit those feelings? Videos or well-written appeals that can take a person back to a particular show or moment in a show can have a powerful emotional pull. Or paint a picture visually or with words of what could happen if you don't have the budgets you need to do your work.
What is the benefit?
The Obama campaign raised lots of money using benefits like winning dinner with the President and Beyonce. While you probably can't offer that kind of star power, we've seen clients do well offering CDs or DVDs of performances. What can you offer to donors? Benefits increase your response rates and can be used to drive larger gifts.
It's about the donor, not you
This seems counterintuitive, but try to make the written materials about the donor, not you. Write about their experience in the theater or what their gift will do. How many times can you include "you" or "your" in your appeals?
Gotta Get A Gimmick
A plain letter from your artistic director pasted into an email no longer cuts it. You need something that will break through the clutter and get people engaged. A beautiful video, an infographic, a major give-away. Think bigger than last year.
Resend to non-openers
Here is a tactical email trick. Two days after you send your first appeal, resend the exact same appeal to everyone who didn't open the first time. You can increase your overall opens by 30%. Read all about that here.