IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU…IT’S ABOUT THEM.

"If you want someone to donate...you must first find out about their values, the things they feel passionate about. Successful fundraising doesn’t start with you. It starts with them."

INTRODUCTION

The Fund For Artists was an initiative of The San Francisco Foundation and East Bay Community Foundation to attract new donors to artists. Between 2004 and 2010, the program:

  • Funded 116 new works by 181 artists
  • Raised $729,254 in contributions
  • Attracted more than 3,120 individual donors, many of them who had never before given to artists.

Inspirare copy

Helicon and WolfBrown conducted research on the donors to the artists projects asking:

  • Who donated to the artists projects?
  • What motivated them to give?
  • How were these donors to artists similar to or different from donors to arts institutions?

The research confirmed that values shape giving more than any other factor, and identified successful strategies that artists and arts organizations can use to connect with donor values. While the study focused only on donors in the Bay Area, the findings seem to have national resonance.

The Fund For Artists was an initiative of The San Francisco Foundation and East Bay Community Foundation to attract new donors to artists. Between 2004 and 2010, the program:

  • Funded 116 new works by 181 artists
  • Raised $729,254 in contributions
  • Attracted more than 3,120 individual donors, many of them who had never before given to artists.

Inspirare copy

Helicon and WolfBrown conducted research on the donors to the artists projects asking:

  • Who donated to the artists projects?
  • What motivated them to give?
  • How were these donors to artists similar to or different from donors to arts institutions?

The research confirmed that values shape giving more than any other factor, and identified successful strategies that artists and arts organizations can use to connect with donor values. While the study focused only on donors in the Bay Area, the findings seem to have national resonance.

The Work

Connecting to the values and interests of potential donors is essential to success.  Raising money for artists’ projects is no different in this way from other kinds of fundraising.

Five primary values shape Bay Area donors giving:

 

  • Humanism--an interest in social justice, diverse viewpoints, different cultures, and alleviating suffering
  • Distinction--an interest in world class art and artists and the institutions that present them
  • Localism--an interest in local artists and community access to culture and creativity
  • Bonding--an interest in art as a part of spiritual, civic or social life
  • Progressivism--an interest in the leading edge of art and ideas

 

Use this toolkit to help you talk your donors about their values.

In comparison to donors to mid-sized and large cultural institutions, donors to artists and artists’ projects are more likely to be:

  • Artists themselves (professional or amateur);
  • Young adults or mid-life (18-54), without children, and of diverse cultural backgrounds;
  • Interested in social justice and environmentalism;
  • Interested in diversity of cultures and points of view;
  • Giving less than $5,000 annually to all charitable causes;
  • Interested in supporting small projects rather than sustaining institutions.

 

  1. A personal relationship with the artist
  2. A passion for the artform
  3. An emotional or intellectual interest in the subject matter of the artwork
  4. An involvement with the culture or community touched by the project

 

Connecting on more than one of these points increases the likelihood of giving.

Connecting to the values and interests of potential donors is essential to success.  Raising money for artists’ projects is no different in this way from other kinds of fundraising.

Five primary values shape Bay Area donors giving:

 

  • Humanism--an interest in social justice, diverse viewpoints, different cultures, and alleviating suffering
  • Distinction--an interest in world class art and artists and the institutions that present them
  • Localism--an interest in local artists and community access to culture and creativity
  • Bonding--an interest in art as a part of spiritual, civic or social life
  • Progressivism--an interest in the leading edge of art and ideas

 

Use this toolkit to help you talk your donors about their values.

In comparison to donors to mid-sized and large cultural institutions, donors to artists and artists’ projects are more likely to be:

  • Artists themselves (professional or amateur);
  • Young adults or mid-life (18-54), without children, and of diverse cultural backgrounds;
  • Interested in social justice and environmentalism;
  • Interested in diversity of cultures and points of view;
  • Giving less than $5,000 annually to all charitable causes;
  • Interested in supporting small projects rather than sustaining institutions.

 

  1. A personal relationship with the artist
  2. A passion for the artform
  3. An emotional or intellectual interest in the subject matter of the artwork
  4. An involvement with the culture or community touched by the project

 

Connecting on more than one of these points increases the likelihood of giving.

Conclusion

Artists and arts organizations should not change the focus of their work or how they do it in order to attract contributions from individuals. Anyone raising money can connect more meaningfully and successfully with individual donors by appealing to donors’ values and authentically energizing their interests. Key principles of values-based fundraising include:

  • Identify the values inherent in your project (or organization) and convey those values effectively to potential contributors.
  • Ask your potential donor about themselves, before you talk about yourself and your project.
  • Seek authentic places where you and the donor share values.
  • Even people of modest incomes can make meaningful financial contributions.
  • A values based approach can help create better relationships with audiences as well as donors.