July 23, 2015, Steph Graham

“We’re passionate about sharing knowledge at Adapt for Arts, we believe it makes for a stronger arts sector.”

Yay! It’s the first Adapt for Arts blog. Welcome.

We formed towards the end of 2014, with one big aim – to empower the arts! We’ve been busy bees since then, initiating projects, developing our portfolio of work and most importantly, talking to people in the sector.

After our first 6 months, it felt time to sit back for a minute, take stock and re-focus. I thought about all the conversations I’d been having since AfA officially started October ’14, and before then, whilst working in the sector in various guises. Themes and links started to emerge:

  • The relationship between successful marketing and fundraising
  • How technology is used to aid marketing and fundraising

I decided to do a little bit of research and get something down on paper, because, it would be useful for us to refer back to from time to time, but it is also something we can share with the sector.

We’re passionate about sharing knowledge at Adapt for Arts, we believe it makes for a stronger arts sector.

I asked a favour of some of my close pals in a range of arts organisations across the country. I sent them some questions about how they felt their organisation was represented by its website and whether this had an impact of fundraising and marketing and how successfully they thought their organisation uses technology for marketing and fundraising.

There were naturally many differences in the information and opinion that I received back, we asked staff from nine different sized organisations covering different artistic disciplines. However, trends certainly emerged…

Arts organisations could definitely be using their websites, and technology in general, more effectively to aid fundraising.

Whilst obviously marketing is crucial for income generation (in organisations with a ticketed public programme), we found that most organisations are doing very little to capitalise on their charitable status by promoting this aspect of their organisation to service users. Most concentrate on their events and programmes etc.

The research showed that the organisations certainly seemed to be using technology to a greater effect for marketing purposes rather than fundraising – why the disparity?

Clearly, the impact of an organisation’s structure, hierarchy and who works with whom is huge when it comes to fundraising. My suspicion is that due to our history of public subsidy, a fundraiser/fundraising team has not been a mainstay in most arts organisations in England. Therefore, structurally, our fundraisers are all over the place: contract freelancers, directly beneath the chief exec, next to the marketing team, a siloed member of staff in the corner or, of course, completely missing altogether!

We need to integrate our fundraisers more with the rest of the organisation, share learning and knowledge with each other across teams and departments, and fundraising needs to become part of the marketing ‘brand’. If we can use technology successfully to market our organisations, surely we’re half way there?

We have the knowledge, resources and expertise in the sector to make this work – so let’s get on with it.

Download the research document here.