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Disappearing is one act your arts organization should avoid

“Out of sight is out of mind” as the old adage goes. This is especially true now, in our digital age where social media posts fly by and news cycles last minutes instead of days.

It is important to keep your organization in the minds of your patrons, even between your events, or between your seasons.  As soon as you stop communicating, even for a short period, it’s as if you vanished from the public sphere.  If you were to ask your patrons what your organization is up to a few weeks after your season has ended, what might they say?  Or what event or show is coming up next?  As media splashes onto the eyes and ears of the public constantly, it washes away things formerly seen or heard, even if the patron cares about the other details more.

So what do you do to keep your organization present in the zeitgeist of your community?

It’s really pretty simple.  You communicate, with fun and frequency.

Between projects or seasons, you need to have regular social media postings, blog posts, email newsletters and even press releases going out about what you are up to, how you are working toward the next project, and more.  How can you share insider information with your followers to excite them about things to come?  Consider doing a feature story or series of posts about the costume staff and their advance work on upcoming shows.  What about changes in your organization’s methods and procedures that patrons might find of interest?  Might some upcoming guest performers offer a blog post about their excitement and preparation for things to come?  Of course, coverage of special events and fundraisers is great content as well.  Include pictures and videos where possible, and keep it all coming.

For the most loyal and invested patrons, they will find plenty of detail and interest to dig into.  For those less attached but still wanting to know what’s coming up, they can scan the content or even just look at a well crafted subject or headline giving them enough to remember you’re still out there working on the next thing to entertain and enlighten them.

Bottom line,  your communication system needs to remain active and engaged with your digital community even if the rest of the company is taking some down time, or only working behind the scenes.  Don’t let your loyal patrons or community forget you.  Keep up the fun and anticipation of what’s coming next!

 

Boosting Corporate Philanthropy Through Digital Fundraising

Digital fundraising makes it possible for anyone to donate from anywhere with an internet connection — which also makes soliciting donations a more competitive field. Organizations supporting worthy causes pull donors from all angles.

Maybe it’s time to get more creative with your digital fundraising by exploring ways to supplement your traditional donations.

How about local businesses? You might already secure sponsorships for certain shows or offer corporate gift certificate options, but there’s a whole world of corporate philanthropy waiting in the digital fundraising space.

In this post, we’ll focus on four smart ways to increase your revenue from corporate philanthropy through your digital fundraising strategy:

  1. Get smart with your donor database.
  2. Promote matched donations at checkout.
  3. Optimize your confirmation messages.
  4. Get attention on social media.

If you’re ready to tap into the gift of corporate philanthropy, keep reading!

 

 1. Get smart with your donor database.

As any fundraising institution knows, a donation solicitation is only as effective as it is targeted. That is, when asking for donations, the more about your donors you know, the better your chances are of receiving a check in return.

When narrowing in on your corporate philanthropy efforts, a comprehensive donor database is your secret weapon. Here are the key data points to include in your donor profiles:

  • Employer: Some companies are more charitable than others. If a donor’s employer offers a corporate matching gift program or regularly donates to nonprofits, you now have a connection to that source of revenue through your donor.
  • Job title: C-level employees, business owners, and board members all have a say in their company’s charitable giving philosophy. If your donor cares about your organization, so will their business.
  • Past giving: Whether to your organization or others, past giving is a great indication of future giving. Previous involvement in corporate philanthropy, from matching gift requests to group volunteering, is important to have on record.

Once you’ve identified donors with key corporate connections, it’s time to reach out to them. Your CRM or communication software should allow you to segment and sort your donor lists based on employment information.

Make sure to reference the specifics of the corporate philanthropy or sponsorship programs you’re asking donors to participate in, linking them to resources or databases if necessary.

This business-related information doesn’t just help you identify donors with connections to corporate giving programs — it can also help your message actually make it to the person you want it to.

People are much more likely to respond to emails, phone calls, or requests for in-person meetings from people they already know, particularly business owners that often receive requests for corporate-related charitable giving. Keeping historical employment information can reveal profitable connections between prospective major donors and current donors.

Of course, this level of targeting relies on a clean, accurate donor database. You can’t reach out to donors encouraging them to participate in their employer’s corporate matching gift program if you don’t know whether they work for a company that offers one!

 

2. Promote matched donations at checkout.

Your donor database is one place to look for corporate giving revenue, but it’s not the only place. What about those donors who aren’t in your database yet?

At a basic level, you should always post information about matching gifts, sponsorships, and other corporate philanthropy programs publicly on your website. Linking to this information on your social media pages is another way to ensure it has a wide reach.

But one of the best places to feature corporate philanthropy information is at checkout.

Think about it: patrons who are actively buying a ticket are obviously interested in supporting your organization. Why not show them another way they can do so?

Here are a few creative ways to work matching gifts into your checkout process:

  • Install a matching gift database plugin so shoppers can interactively search their employer’s corporate giving program in real time.
  • During the end-of-year holidays, emphasize the charitable spirit and the way to make a donation go further than usual (and the tax benefits of charitable giving).
  • Encourage the giving of gift donations.

By placing this information right at checkout, you encourage giving at the moment that your supporters are most excited about.

If you need a little help setting up a website that offers attractive sponsorship opportunities to companies, check out Double the Donation’s guide to the top nonprofit website design companies for recommendations.

Remember that online checkout doesn’t always happen at home! Make sure your checkout forms are mobile-optimized so they display properly on your patrons’ mobile phones and any POS stations your staff members use to sell tickets or memberships on the floor.

 

3. Optimize your confirmation messages.

Whether a patron reserves a ticket, purchases a t-shirt, or makes a donation, your system will automatically deliver a copy of their receipt to their email inbox.

With the ability to customize those automatic emails comes an incredible opportunity to encourage participation in corporate philanthropy programs!

Check out how the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation incorporated matching gift information into their donation confirmation email:

The great thing about a confirmation message is its timing. Right after a purchase or a donation, the recipient is excited about what’s to come, and they’ll be looking for the confirmation email.

Corporate philanthropy makes gifts go further at no extra cost to the donor. That’s the kind of message that a supporter is receptive to right after spending or donating some of their own money.

Something important to keep in mind when including a solicitation in a confirmation email is tone. The first thing you should say no matter what comes afterward is “thank you.” From there, it’s all about a clean, quick transition.

That transition will depend greatly on the kind of message you’re appending to the “thank you.” If you need a little inspiration, here are a few tips for a few common confirmation email types:

  • Ticket reservation: “Before you arrive, take a look and see if your employer would match a donation to the theater!”
  • Merchandise purchase: “Did you know you could support the theater with a donation, and your employer might even match the amount? Follow this link to our corporate giving page for more information!”
  • Donation confirmation: “Before you forget, save a copy of your receipt for taxes, and request a matching gift form from your employer. Not sure if your employer offers a corporate giving program? Find out by typing your company name into the plugin below!”
  • Volunteer application: “Does your employer offer volunteer grants? Find out and learn more below!”
  • Special event registration: “Check up on your employer’s corporate giving status before you show up!”
  • Membership program sign-up: “What if your employer could match your commitment to the theater? See if your donations are eligible to be matched using the corporate giving database plugin in this email!”

If you need a little more guidance, start with these useful templates from Fundraising Letters, then personalize to your organization!

 

4. Get attention on social media.

We’ve already covered the benefits of spreading the word about corporate philanthropy on social media. But it’s not always individual donors whose attention you’re trying to get.

In fact, corporate social media accounts are always interested in the good publicity that comes along with partnering with a charitable cause.

If you look at it that way, your social media presence is actually a bargaining chip for corporate partnerships. Look at what you have to offer:

  • Sponsored shows: For the most traditional type of corporate sponsorship, a business covers some or all of the cost of a show or exhibit in exchange for their logo on your marketing materials, including social media profiles.
  • Social takeover: A social media representative from the sponsoring company “takes over” your social media for a day, sharing stories and pictures to your audience from their perspective.
  • Fundraising events: Companies can sponsor fundraising events, either by helping with setup costs or donating auction items for specialized events like online charity auctions.
  • Employee volunteers: Employees from a corporate sponsor can man the box office, hand out programs, escort visitors to their seats, and sell merchandise. Pictures of employees helping out while wearing branded shirts are easy to share on social media.
  • Charity packages: Want to open up to low-income families for a night for free or a reduced rate? You need someone to cover the costs, and a corporation has the incentive to fund this kind of charitable cause.

As a beloved institution in your community, you have an engaged audience that companies would love access to. Use that access to your advantage!

Asking for donations over and over can exhaust even your most loyal supporters. But corporate philanthropy doesn’t require your donors to dip back into their own pockets to support the institutions they love.

By promoting corporate philanthropy across your digital space, you can actualize your supporters’ charitable spirit at no more cost to them!

 


Our thanks to Adam Weinger for sharing this special blog post.

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.

White paper: Facebook for Arts Organizations – Strategies for success & common mistakes to avoid

Arts People Marketing Director Patrick Spike, with over 25 years experience in performing arts marketing and administration, walks you through the best practices and strategies of using Facebook to build your audience, increase engagement, foster patron loyalty and more.

Originally presented as a seminar at the Arts NW Booking Conference in Tacoma, WA Oct 2013. Updated May 2017.

Request a download link for this white paper:

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White paper written by 

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

Former Audience Development Director for Bag&Baggage Productions, with over 30 years experience in performing arts creation, administration, marketing and fundraising.