Engaged Fundraising: II

When last we met, I talked about community engaged fundraising providing the option of gaining us access to more diverse funding sources. [Engaged Fundraising: I (More Pies)] Here, I am revisiting the “math” of a former post (Arts 2.0: 40k x $25=$1M) in which I waxed rhapsodic about the potential of crowdsourced fundraising.

(NB: As yet another reminder, in these mainstreaming engagement posts I am addressing only those individuals or organizations that want broader and deeper relationships with their communities but are uncertain how to begin or even whether it is possible to do so without completely reinventing the organization.)

Let me revisit the “givens.”

  • The arts enterprise will become increasingly more expensive compared to other industries due to the high cost of labor. (The “cost disease” associated with labor intensive industries is the culprit.)
  • Traditional arts funding sources will not be able to expand their giving as fast as the costs escalate.
  • Therefore, new modes/sources of support must be found.
  • The one really new approach to fundraising, made possible by online giving, is crowdsourced support. The Obama campaign of 2008 demonstrated that small gifts can be aggregated to great effect. Donors of large sums need not be the only option for fundraising.
  • New modes are becoming available to the sector. In addition to kickstarter and indiegogo (to name just two), the arts-dedicated Power2Give is beginning to take off. (I keep running into it in my travels around the country.)

The formula at the top of this post attempts to make the point that you can get to $1 Million through 40,000 $25 gifts. (The math does, indeed, check out.) The community engagement “trick” to this is that to get those 40,000 gifts, you probably need to be vitally important in the lives of 150,000-300,000 people. If crowdsourced fundraising is a (or the) way to fund the future of the arts, then in order to be successful, organizations will be compelled to be vitally engaged with their communities. Otherwise, they will not be touching enough lives to yield the large number of small gifts necessary.

Once again, it can be argued that community engagement is a valuable and critical tool in support of work we already do. In this case, it is particularly clear that the engagement required cannot be the sole responsibility of the development department. Everybody needs to get in the pool!

Engage!

Doug

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