3 Keys to Successful Fundraising

Big artistic projects need major support.  

Fundraising is key to every major artistic venture.

If you’re the engine driving a new artistic project, you want to make the most of your fundraising efforts. 

Fundraisers Don’t Always Meet Their Financial Goals

Have you been part of a fundraiser that fell short? 

Sometimes this can be a disappointment that keeps you on the bench from future fundraising. 

Often, even a campaign that doesn’t reach its goal provides excitement and awareness among your supporters and new skills that allow you to reach that artistic project in just a little bit more time than you originally planned. 

Fundraising is a skill-building and awareness-building exercise that will benefit you and your project even beyond the financial rewards. 

So why not try it? What do you have to lose? 

I’m Afraid People Will Judge Me 

This is the number one reason I hear for not starting a fundraising campaign. 

This fear shows up in many different common phrases: 

  • Fundraising isn’t something my friends do. It’s not part of our culture.
  • If I’m fundraising, my colleagues will think I’m not doing well financially. 
  • I don’t want to use my contacts asking for money. 

What’s behind all these objections? 

The idea that asking for support for artistic projects is unacceptable. 

Let’s challenge that assumption. 

Have you supported a fundraiser for an arts organization or project before? 

That support could take the form of buying tickets to a fundraiser, throwing in a few dollars online, or pre-ordering an album or book.

How did you feel when you did this? 

Were you excited about taking part in the project? Did you have a feeling of fulfillment from helping the project organizers make it happen? Were you proud to contribute? 

There are the feelings you’re sharing with your supporters when they get the chance to make something awesome happen…

  • Excitement
  • Fulfillment 
  • Pride

That’s what we’re sharing with others when we invite them to be part of making art possible. 

With that in mind, here are my top 3 tips for successful fundraising. 

#1 – Tell Your Story

Before anyone will chip in to support you or your project they have to know…

Who are you? What are you creating? Who does it benefit? 

Why are your SUPPORTERS the key to making it happen? 

Fundraising is more than anything else about a compelling story

Think about how to describe your main character. (That’s YOU or YOUR GROUP if you’re creating an artistic project) 

What’s unique about you?  What have your obstacles been in your journey? 

How is this fundraiser going to help you overcome a major obstacle? What’s on the other side of that mountain you’re climbing? 

Finally, invite your supporters to become part of the story. 

Your supporters are the missing piece that will allow you to scale that mountain and create this amazing artistic work for everyone who is waiting to benefit from it. 

Imagine the story of your fundraiser like your favorite story as a child. Get your audience invested in the main character, bring them along for the journey, and get them ready to give that final push for that happy-ever-after ending! 

#2 – Get Creative

Almost every fundraising campaign has certain elements in common 

  • A project or organization to support
  • Levels for giving
  • Thank you gifts for each level 

The details – and the more creative you can get with them – will often determine the excitement and support around your campaign. 

What can you offer your donors? Look for special access, prizes, and gifts that will be meaningful for them. 

What motivates your supporters?  

  • Amazing food and drink
  • Beautiful places
  • Access to the artists
  • Access to the behind-the-scenes creative process
  • Access to a community of donors and supporters

Don’t be afraid to ask.  

Survey or interview your potential supporters and find out what motivates them. Run a few prize ideas by them and see what gets them excited. 

#3 – Finding Business Partners

When we start fundraising, we often think about contacting individuals but businesses can be some of our most powerful partners in raising money for the arts. 

Businesses are motivated differently from individuals. 

While individuals may be all about that front row seat or special wine tasting package businesses are looking for access to your supporters.  

Businesses thrive on people and not just any people. 

Every business has a niche market – a specific type of customer that buys what they offer. 

Here’s where the synergy between your fundraiser and a business comes together. 

It’s all about finding the businesses that want to reach your audience and supporters. 

The better you know your audience demographics, the better you can find the right businesses to develop as partners

Are they looking for parents in your neighborhood? Teenagers who game online? Retirees with an interest in the arts? 

Whoever your audience is, there is a business who is looking for them. 

Know your supporters, and you can develop just the right business partnership to make your fundraiser soar. 

Now is the Right Time

Any time you have a project that needs support is the right time to start fundraising. 

Reaching out to supporters and potential partners has resounding benefits beyond the money raised during your campaign. 

Start thoughtfully with your supporters in mind and awareness, goodwill, and support will reward your efforts! 

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