Get creative for board fundraising engagement

For those of us who have served on arts boards, or have been staff in an organization with a board, we all know the typical responses to the idea of fundraising: fear, rejection, refusal, discomfort… Yet your board’s primary responsibilities to the organization are fiscal oversight and making deeper connections into the community that include contacts with deep pockets.

So how do you get your board engaged in fundraising without running up against a wall of refusal, or worse yet, setting up for failure?

One creative way is to tap their contacts without them feeling pushed to cold call for donations. Consider creating a list of businesses in your area that are currently NOT supporters of the organization.  Group them into business categories and put them on big paper sheets that you can tape around the room.  At the board meeting, put up the lists and give each board member a sheet of colored dots, recording who got what color.  Then ask your board to take 10 minutes and put a colored dot next to every business that they have any association with… a contact, have done business there, family connection, etc.  At some point, have them detail for you the specific contact name and title for you to write to.  Once done, you’ll have a list of board contacts at these businesses.

Now, have your staff prepare introductory letters written from the board member to the contact at the business that they know, explaining that they are on the board of this arts organization and how they value the work it does and its contribution to the local economy, education and more.  When completed, contact the board member to stop by the office and sign the letters, adding a short personal note if they wish.  Then send the letters.

About a week later, the board member should call those contacts to verify they received the letter and invite them to come see a show at your venue.  Give them a couple comp tickets and the board member should followup after to see if they’d be interested in supporting the organization, as they do, through a sponsorship, a donation, a company volunteer program or other possibilities.

So, during this process, you have helped that board member through the beginnings of making connections with potential donor businesses and made in roads with personal connections.  Hopefully the result will be increased business contributions and support.

This is just one idea for board fundraising engagement.  Obviously the possibilities are endless.  Build on this idea for other possible ways to utilize their support.  And remember, every board member should be a donor as well.  They should be giving at a level that is significant to them and their budget.  No one can comfortably explain their investment in your organization if they aren’t actually investing in it themselves.

DID YOU KNOW? Automated emails should be branded and recognizable

When you send a brochure, letter, postcard, you’re certain to pay attention to the look of that item, ensuring that it is branded and recognizable at a glance as coming from your organization, representing your style and professionalism.

Email communications should be the same… even if sent from your automated systems.

The Arts People system sends out notices and reminders to patrons automatically, when they make a purchase or donation, schedule a reservation, when their membership is coming due for renewal, reminding them of their upcoming performance, and more.  These emails are important for good customer service and communication with your patrons. They instill confidence and build loyalty among your customers and ultimately can help you to build on relationships to step those patrons up the ladder from ticket buyer to subscriber to donor and more.

Of course, these emails only have these benefits if they look professional and solidify your brand in the recipient’s mind.

In Arts People, all of these emails are customizable, allowing you to tailor the language to your typical tone of voice, using terminology that your patrons are accustomed to, with your logo and styling to reflect your brand.  Easy to configure, or with assistance from our friendly Client Services staff, you can make great impressions with your patrons through all your communication, even automated confirmations and reminders.

To learn more about the Arts People system and how it can help your organization in many ways, CONTACT US, or visit our website for more details.

How will performing arts charities weather the new tax plan?

Tax PlanningThe new tax plan from Donald Trump and the GOP has drastically changed the landscape for fundraisers in charity arts organizations.  By altering the standard deduction, supposedly in an effort to make individuals tax preparation much simpler, it has also created a new paradigm that does not well encourage individuals to make donations that they can later write off on their taxes.  Here’s why.

In the past, by making donations to charitable organizations, an individual was able to deduct those donations from their taxable income thereby lowering their tax liability overall at the federal and often state level.  So if you donated $500 to charity, you would remove $500 from your taxable income and then the portion of that that you would have paid to taxes as income was removed.  This was a large contributing factor encouraging the giving of money to charities that you support.

Now, with the standard deduction being much higher, it creates far less need to itemize deductions for most individuals on their tax return. Instead they can just take the standard deduction without having to have made any itemizable payments, such as those to charities.  Only in the event of a relatively high level of income will an individual or family need to itemize on their tax return.  Due to this there is far less incentive to come up with tax-deductible expenses in order to reduce tax liability.

This could mean that many individuals may choose not to contribute to charities and instead keep that money for themselves, since they’ll get the standard tax deduction anyway.  Without tax deductibility being an encouraging factor in donating, what will be the new strategy for charities, including performing arts organizations, to encourage donations?

Alternatively, could the increased standard deduction put some more money in the pockets of donors who want to support you, and lead to increased giving?  This article seems to think so.

Hopefully many donors will want to financially support the work that you do despite this change.  It remains the strongest reason a person may choose to donate. They love what you do.  They want to support your work. If you can also make especially clear that your organization cannot survive without contributed income, and not only on earned income from things like ticket sales and education program fees alone, you can help them to understand why their donations are critical to your survival.

Granting organizations and corporate support will play an even more important role with the sizable risk of individual giving declining.  However, their income sources could be affected also by the new tax plan.  The down line support that they provide could change as the effects ripple out over time, and of course now there is talk of Trump wanting to cut funding to the NEA and other arts and humanities funders.

Increased prices may be required as well.  If an arts organization has survived on a balance of 50% earned income from sales with a 50% contributed income level to balance the budget, the percentage balance may need to shift to higher on the earned income side.  Of course depending on your patrons, this could reduce sales as prices are increased resulting in bigger problems in the end.

What does YOUR organization plan to do in this shaky and changing fundraising environment?  How will your message shift?  What combination of tactics do you feel are needed or are planned to maintain your bottom line?

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike – Marketing Director, Arts People

Arts organization consultant
Former Board Member Portland Area Theatre Alliance
Former Audience Development Director & Board Member Bag&Baggage Productions

White Paper – Create a powerful and efficient Volunteer workforce

Non-profit organizations, certainly including performing arts groups, rely heavily on a well organized and satisfied volunteer workforce. In many cases, running that portion of your operation should be given as much importance and attention as management of the staff, since often they do just as much work overall. The success of your volunteer coordination starts at the top and works its way down.

In this white paper we’ll walk you through a recognized structure to your volunteer workforce that will help ensure that your volunteers are honored, happy, and managed in a way that benefits both them and your organization.

Request a download link for this white paper:

Note that you will have 10 minutes to download your requested document from the email received.

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White paper written by

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com

Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.

 

Make Giving Tuesday count for your chosen charities

Giving Tuesday has become a very real “thing” along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is a day where we emphasize the need to give to the charity organizations that matter to each of us.

The fact that most charities rely heavily on individual giving from people like you and me, along with grants, corporate sponsorship, and in the case of performing arts, ticket and other sales, can be seen as a wonderful thing. If we think about it, it’s easy to recognize how this benefits our community. The deep connections forged between the charity organizations and the individuals within the community helps lift up those charities that community members really believe in. Not unlike a business succeeding because its products or services are loved, a charity that survives well based on the support of its community is a testament to the great work that charity is doing FOR its community. If the people didn’t believe in its mission and its methods, it simply wouldn’t survive.

So as we focus at this time on our gratitude for all the things that touch and enrich our lives, let’s remember and be thankful for the charities that do great work. Some are benevolent. Some are creative. They bring happiness, support, relief, joy, comfort and are worthy of our gifts too. Choose the charities that you believe in most and give as much as you can to support the work that they do. It takes us all to make a rich and caring community. We must support each other all we can.

The Arts People system charges no fees for use of its donation processing and tracking system, along with membership functionality. Only standard credit card processing rates apply. Donation options can easily be featured on your website, Facebook page, in email messages and more. Contact your support rep for any assistance in launching your web page or other fundraising campaigns, or contact us for a free demo of the system. We’d be happy to speak with you.

Up-sell gift and donation options at your holiday show

Strike while the iron is hot, as my mother used to say to me.  Take the opportunity when it presents itself!  We all know that the holiday time is when many performing arts organizations make their most ticket sales and donation transactions.  It’s the season of giving!  (…and shopping for giving, and donating, and stressing over the perfect gift.)

So how can we maximize our patron interactions to boost our holiday income opportunities AND also help them to reduce the stress of holiday gift giving.

Easy!

Take the opportunity while guests are at your venue, enjoying the holiday presentation, to sell them on some simple gift giving ideas via your organization, WHILE THEY ARE THERE!  If you send out an email reminder of their upcoming performance, mention in it that special gift offers will be available as well!  Here’s some ideas:

Create some holiday gift and donation opportunities that provide benefits and discounts:

  1. Create a holiday gift pass or package of shows that you offer to attendees at the theatre at an extra special discount, but ONLY if they buy it that night during intermission.
  2. Offer gift certificates.
  3. Offer a holiday donation option that provides some special incentives such as a pair of free wildcard tickets for any upcoming show of the season.  The patron can donate, support your organization, get an end of year tax write off, AND they get a pair of tickets for themselves or to use as a gift.
  4. Create stylish and fun t-shirts or other branded goods from your organization or that tie into your season to offer at special pricing if purchased that night.

With all the above opportunities, you want to emphasize how they can make the buyer’s life easier by getting some holiday shopping out of the way. Remind them how much fun they have at your performances and what could be better than giving that type of enjoyment to others.  Remind them how a donation at the end of the year helps support your organization and can be deducted off their upcoming taxes. And lastly, it’s critical to promote these things during your well presented curtain speech communicating that these special offers are available only if they do their transaction during intermission.  Have people waiting in the lobby to help the guests with their orders.

Have a great holiday season of sales and fundraising!


The Arts People system provides tools to easily setup and manage all the above efforts including full pass and package functionality, online pass and gift certificate redemption over multiple orders, donation tracking, membership details and automated discounts, even automated emailed ticket reminders that you can customize as you wish.  Contact us at sales@arts-people.com if you’d like more information or a free personal demo.

Your performances – gifts for your business partner’s employees

It’s the giving season again, and there’s another way your business partners and sponsor organizations can support you!

Gift Certificates, and gift passes!

Talk to those businesses and organizations who already support you and share with them a great way to provide a holiday bonus gift to their employees… the gift of an experience with their spouse or entire family.

The organization can purchase gift certificates in any amount they wish to give to each employee.  The employee can then use that amount toward any ticket purchase of their choice of show or event that you offer.

Passes can work similarly, if you have a pass that’s valid for the remaining shows of your season.  The organization can purchase them in any quantity to provide tickets to their choice of upcoming shows.

The financial purchase helps support your organization, AND it may result in more people discovering your organization to come back in the future as a loyal patron.  Once you have a number of organizations are on board, then you can promote it to other businesses that you’ve been hoping to connect with, telling them of other businesses that are taking advantage already.

The Arts People system offers both gift certificate and pass functionality where any unredeemed portion remains in the system to be used later. It makes it tremendously easy for the person to use and enjoy their gift.

The holidays are not just about giving, but also about support, encouragement, joy.  These gift options help to foster all three.  Give it a try!

Added income and revenue - get creative

Generate extra income in creative ways

As a performing arts organization, we know that balancing income and expenses can be a tricky thing.  Generating income also generally must fall into methods in line with your non-profit published mission in order to avoid any scrutiny from the IRS and the public.  But there may just be ways to add a chunk of extra income to your bottom line using methods that are easily within reach.

For those considering the Arts People system for their ticketing, fundraising, marketing, database/CRM needs, the low costs of our system can often be offset by these means!

We’re creative people… let’s get to it!

Here’s some ideas:

  1. In selling your season package, have you considered that adding just an extra 25 or 50 package sales might bring in an extra $5000-10000 annually.  Get your board involved, encourage your patrons to help you promote the packages, hold an annual season announcement event with a super special discount for attendees and get it done!
  2. Add options for season packages.  If you currently sell a traditional subscription package, consider adding flex passes for more patron options and see how it increases your package sales.  You could possibly add an additional $2500-5000 through this method.
  3. The print at home ticket design of the Arts People system allows you to customize the layout.  Consider selling space on the ticket for a local business to print a coupon, or a sponsorship logo.  This can be done creatively on a show by show basis, or for the entire season for more money, or both!  Charge for that space and bring in an extra $2500-5000 or more annually.
  4. If you’re not booking sponsors of each production, you should.  Exclusive single sponsor, or a few sponsors together for each show could bring in $15000 a year.
  5. What about a sponsorship specifically for your online buying experience.  Sell an online season sponsorship and place the sponsor logo with a link to their business info on your Arts People customize-able public pages for an annual amount of $3000-4000.  “Online transactions brought to you by….”  Businesses love this type of exposure.  You could do smaller levels of this also by having individual sponsors of the different transaction types… tickets, donations, membership, retail, passes, subscriptions, class enrollment, etc. Each path in the Arts People system has system messages where sponsor info credit could be displayed. Additionally, the confirmation emails can also be customized with text and images!
  6. Make sure you’re asking ticket buyers online to add a donation.  The checkout screen has a customize-able area for a donation pitch. Use it!  Encourage ticket buyers to add a small donation to their ticket purchase and bring in an extra $1000-2000 a year.

The above methods, if all successful, total between$29000 and $41000 yearly.  Think that would help the bottom line?  Get creative with your options and see the bottom line come up!  This, along with added sales due to the easy to use online purchase process of the Arts People system, and you’ll find it can actually make you money, and be completely paid for in the process.

 

Admit one - free tickets

Give away FREE tickets to high school students

A theatre I’ve worked with over the years built a very successful program that had clear benefits both for high school students, as well as for the theatre itself, by giving away tickets to the students… for FREE.

Called originally their “10 for 1” program, this is how it worked.

First, they would collect donations from individuals, businesses and granters to support the program.  For every $10 dollars donated, they would then give away a free ticket to a high school student in their area.

Usher with empty seatsIn their case, they were performing in venues that had plenty of seats, where they rarely sold out. So the seats they gave away for a given performance likely would have gone empty without the high school students occupying them.  With this in mind, this program would likely not work well for performing arts groups that do not have the extra inventory.

Obviously for the students, this was a wonderful offer, especially since the arts programs in their own schools had been cut back to the bone.  Their theatre programs were mostly extra curricular in nature, and the school did not have funding to bring theatre, English or humanities (or any) students to shows on field trip type of arrangements.

For a few years the theatre struggled to facilitate the students coming to the theatre.  They tried to work with the principals of the schools, with the school districts and even with the individual teachers.  They also tried advertising in the school newspapers, and tried placing posters on the grounds.  They even tried booking school buses on a weekend to bring the students from a meeting place at the school Each of those efforts proved mostly ineffectual, relied on overworked school personnel, or were taking too much manpower to be sustainable.  The board of directors discussed ideas and finally decided to try using social media to spread the word.  Instead of requiring a reservation, they communicated that students could just come to the theatre, show their active student ID, and get a ticket as long as seats were available.  The word spread via social media from student to student, parent to parent, was shared on the school pages and others, and it finally worked.  Students began taking advantage of program more and more, to the happiness of the theatre board and staff.

As for the funding, the donations that came in required really no special handling.  Again, since the inventory was readily available, the funding simply went into the general operating budget, helping the theatre to fund their season productions and everyone wins.

grantsThe program is imminently fund-able by granters and sponsors, since it falls under the category of arts education, and helps the schools with their clear desire to include the arts in the lives of their students.  They would do occasional asks of their patrons to contribute, would have businesses help underwrite the program, and grantors who favor arts education loved to help.  A paddle raise at their gala event also would add to the funding as well.  If they ever needed evidence of the effect of the program, they could call up the ticket counts in their Arts People system, flagged with a comp ticket code.

The theatre also prepared a study guide with accompanying teacher lesson plans in pdf form for those who might want to use them for a specific show. Unfortunately they found that in most cases the teachers didn’t have the budget to even photocopy them.  So for organizations who might want to try this type of program, you may need to take some of the funding that comes in to help the teachers with these.  In some cases the students were also given a coupon code on a flyer to take home to their patrons that would give them a discount off tickets to the show, creating some additional sales revenue, and possible new patrons for the theatre.

High school students, seeing outstanding theatre for free, gaining an appreciation of the art form, or encouraging their existing passion for it, and the theatre gaining much needed capital toward funding their season expenses.  The program has been a huge success!

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Patrick Spike - Marketing Director for Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com.   He is the former Audience Development Director for Bag&Baggage Productions, and is a current board member of PATA – The Portland Area Theatre Alliance.

Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.

Flex pass tickets

White paper: Make your life simpler using the power and flexibility of passes

Arts People led the industry in the development of powerful, multi-functional and flexible pass capabilities.  Our clients use them with great success for season package sales of different types, for comp ticket fulfillment, for sponsor ticket benefits, board cultivation of donors and much more.

Learn how passes can be used in a variety of ways to benefit your patrons experience with your organization, and also to alleviate staff handling and headaches of various ticket packages and fulfillment.

Patrons and staff both love the way pass holders can easily redeem their tickets, self-serve online or via your box office, and at the same time result in less seat inventory going wasted.  They are a powerful tool for every performing arts organization to meet their needs.

 

Request a download link for this white paper:

Note that you will have 10 minutes to download your requested document from the email received.

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White paper written by 

Patrick Spike - Marketing Director of Arts PeoplePatrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com

Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.