Fundraising, Part 4: Museums aim to diversify donor base

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This article is from a report written for Blackbaud, which asked me to look at fundraising strategies that nonprofits have found to be effective.]

Museums of all kinds are looking for ways to engage a broader mix of prospective donors, and to engage them in new ways, says Ford Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums.

“All strategies are very much in play,” including planned giving, annual fund giving, and gift categories “that allow you to have special access.”

An increasingly popular strategy, for example, is to provide social events designed to get young people to museums and turn them into “destinations,” he says.

“It raises a little money, connects you to new donors, gets them to begin to give, and reaches out to whole new sectors,” he says.

A growing number of museums also are adding younger members to their boards in an effort to “get people early in their careers to start giving now, so as they succeed, they will be the donors of the future.”

To attract more major donors, museums continue to offer opportunities to name a broad range of positions, programs and facilities, including the “loading dock and back stairwell,” Bell says.

Trips and tours also have grown increasingly popular, particularly overseas and to provide “access that most people don’t get,” such as to private homes and collections.

The economic climate has stimulated museums to be more creative in their fundraising, Bell says.

“Because more traditional sources of funding are getting tougher, with foundations and corporations looking at other social needs, and with government getting out of culture,” he says, “museums need to be resourceful about how they’re raising money.”

Next:  Major gifts a focus of environmental group

The series:

Fundraising, Part 1: Basics key as economy starts to recover

Fundraising, Part 2: Health care groups invest in development capacity

Fundraising, Part 3: Human services groups focus on direct response marketing

Fundraising, Part 4: Museums aim to diversify donor base

Fundraising, Part 5: Major gifts a focus of environmental group

Fundraising, Part 6: Direct marketing a key for public society benefit group

Fundraising, Part 7: International affairs group aims to show

Fundraising, Part 8: Faith-based groups count on direct mail

Fundraising, Part 9: Independent school partners with parent volunteers

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