Development Terminology

Fools rush in . . . .

I may just be a glutton for punishment. However, over the (many) years I taught arts management and the many more in which I have engaged with colleagues in discussions of marketing, sales, development, fundraising–you know, the fun part of the arts (!?)–I’ve been troubled by what has seemed to me to be a fuzziness about the way we use all the terms. While all of this is not directly related to community engagement, the impact of these fields on it and of community engagement on them is (or should be) very important. So, as I’ve been working on my training programs I’ve decided to make a stab at differentiating among them in the way I have earlier worked on audience development, audience engagement, and community engagement. (Be warned, I’ve done a bit more work on those as well so a post will be forthcoming on those.)

I know these terms are now deeply embedded in our field and that people have deep commitments to the way they use and understand the terms. And, since I am not a day to day practitioner I may be missing important aspects of each. However, for me what follows is a way of making all these important terms play nicely together. For anyone interested in sharing these via URL, this material can be found here. []

In the arts management world, much discussion of development, marketing, fundraising, and sales is complicated by conflicting or overlapping definitions. While what is presented here is decidedly “non-standard,” it represents an attempt to clarify the terminology in ways that might be helpful.

The process of soliciting and securing resources for an organization. All of the following are subsets of development.

Processes and activities that support fundraising and sales and that enhance organizational visibility which serves as the foundation for both. It is best understood as communication with external constituencies about the offerings–the receivable values–an organization presents.

The process and activity of soliciting and securing grants, contributions, and donations to an organization.

The process and activity of securing an exchange transaction with a member of the public in which they give money and/or their time in order to receive the value of the art the organization presents.

The percentage of any given population that takes advantage of an organization’s offerings.

The average number of times any given member of the public takes advantage of an organization’s offerings in a prescribed period of time.

So there you have it, for better or worse. I’m certainly interested in improving on these definitions so (constructive) comments are welcomed.



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  2. “enhance organizational visibility”

    “communication with external constituencies about…offerings”

    So marketing is all about getting the word out and telling people how valuable we are?

    I think your definition is an accurate reflection of reality, Doug, but it also reveals the inherent self-centeredness of our model. I wonder if there is a way to describe marketing that places more value on the participant. Something that suggests a more engagement oriented approach to communication.

    • No argument from me. Funny you are advising me to be more inclusive of engagement here! 🙂 I think for now I’ll leave my definition as it is and push for relationship building in practice. But you’ve got me thinking. Thanks.