Social media and eCRM look set to play a major role in the survival of arts organisations as they look to the public for financial support.
The sector has been hit in the Government’s spending review with cuts of up to 30%, so fundraising strategies will have to change to help make up the shortfall.
The Government wants funding of the sector to move closer to that of the US, where private philanthropy is the main lifeline for the arts. In order for this to be successful in the UK, museums will have to build loyalty and engagement so people part with their money on a regular basis.
Andrew Hayes, senior development officer at the Victoria & Albert museum – which will see cuts of around 15% – said he expects fundraising and digital marketing to integrate more closely.
The focus will be on looking at why people are interested in the organisation and showing them they can be involved by making donations.
“In the US the funding message has always been wrapped up in the general sense of involvement,” he said. “Digital media can help people feel involved in a way you couldn’t do by any other method.
The aims of museums and galleries are different from commercial companies in that we want people to engage with us. Just getting interest is a success, so we need to use that for fundraising
” For Kathrin Ostermann, head of individual giving at The Tate, which is working with Blue State Digital on fundraising initiatives, using digital to enhance storytelling and narratives around the organisation is vital for building loyalty.
“We’re looking at how to convert our Facebook and Twitter followers into volunteers, ambassadors and fundraisers,” she said, “using digital channels for a clearer call to action and promoting philanthropy.”
Nadine Thompson, director of communications at the English National Opera, which is funded by the badly hit Arts Council (see box), points out that the arts sector has been innovative in its use of digital for fundraising for a long time.
“It’s a continuation of what we’ve already been doing,” she said. “Due to the cuts, there’ll be consolidation of fundraising online, producing strategic shifts and a consolidation in audience development learning. We’ll be looking at how digital platforms can help with that.”
Digital agencies Cogapp and Four Communications, which both have long-standing arts sector clients, held separate events earlier this month to demonstrate to arts organisations how digital channels, including social media and eCRM, can help build more engaged, loyal audiences and facilitate fundraising.
They expect work to shift from design and build and interactive installations to using digital channels to crowdsource and raise funds.
“Government suggestions to call on philanthropists have been widely criticised and are unlikely to provide a sustainable income,” said Cogapp MD Alex Morrison. “But many people in the UK love their museums. Online community building gives museums the chance to connect with those people and build a base of grass-roots support. This will generate income and help with fundraising efforts.”
arts council cuts
- Arts Council England’s (ACE) budget was cut by 29.6% in the Government’s spending review, seeing its grant of £449m drop to £349m by 2014
- ACE, which distributes money to arts venues, theatre groups and galleries, said the cut will have “a significant impact on the cultural life of the country”
- Museums will take a cut of 15% but entry will remain free