Ideas for Arts & Culture Fundraising Success: How to Increase Donors, Giving, and Conversions

arts & culture

As a development professional, you recognize that fundraising is both an art and a science. While data drives decision making, there is also a subtle art involved in framing the ask, and timing it appropriately.

How can you nurture your current donors while also focusing on new prospects? Our data-driven ideas and solutions will help you:

  1. Increase the giving amount from each donor
  2. Convert more ticket buyers into donors or members
  3. Find more high-level donors

How to increase current giving amounts


Personalization is a mantra that you will hear more and more about in the near future. This is one of the key tenets for fundraising success. As you know, most organizations generally have automated emails thanking someone for a low/mid-level gift. 

The trick here is to increase engagement through personalization. Increased engagement with your organization will encourage donors to support you in a sustained manner. The messaging needs to be personalized regardless of the medium. A handwritten letter or call from the Executive Director when an individual donates at a higher level can ensure a deeper connection.

But you can go a step further. You can make the effort to personalize your communication with a donor not only based on their actual donation, but also based on their giving capacity and other wealth factors.

WealthEngine can help you identify the right set of major gift donor prospects. We can help you decide if someone should be in an annual fund portfolio or major gift portfolio.

Our wealth intelligence goes beyond net worth to generate a holistic propensity score. Learn more about how screening can help you increase donation amounts across all giving brackets by optimizing your ask.  

How to convert ticket buyers or visitors into donors


You may be familiar with the common struggle at Arts and Culture organizations – the difficulty of prioritizing between ticket sales and fundraising. Both are equally important to sustain the organization, however, with lean teams, sometimes you end up prioritizing one at the cost of the other. Most organizations that we speak with tend to do a great job filling the seats in a theater or getting a high volume of visitors. Ideally, all those ticket buyers/visitors would be donors or members.

We recognize that this may not be the case right now. It may seem like a monumental task to research every ticket buyer or visitor. But these visitors are your greatest prospects! We can help you increase conversion from visitors to life-long donor or member. WealthEngine has the capability to instantly screen a ticket buyer at the point of sale and notify you so you can begin nurturing. Our API will capture potential major donor prospects in real time while you’re relaxing at home.  

You would then have the ability to roll out the red carpet and give the prospect the platinum experience before and after any event. This level of personalization would enable the visitor to become better engaged with your organization, creating a compelling case to become a donor.


How to increase the number of high-level donors


We have found in our experience that a lot of organizations have a solid set of low and mid-level donors. We have also found that a lot of these donors have not only greater gift capacities, but also the interest and motivation to give. A lot of times it comes down to not being asked for a bigger donation.

There are two ways to increase high-level donors:

  • The first is to optimize your ask for your current donors to ensure that their gifts are reflective of their capacity and propensity. Screening, as a tool, allows you to determine potential (and existing) donor’s capacity and propensity to give.

Once the ask has been optimized and donations increase, our demographic, lifestyle, interests and affinity data can help gift officers maintain an ongoing dialog with these donors as part of the nurturing process.

  • The second is to find new high-level donors. You could do a deep dive into your donor base and identify patterns of traits among your high-level donors in order to find more prospects like them. WealthEngine’s analytical solution with AI and machine learning capabilities can build models based on your top donors.

Insights from these models can then be used to find more high-level prospects using our revolutionary prospecting solution. This way your best donors can help you find your next best prospects!


We hope these insights and tools set you up for a great holiday season and enable you to kick 2019 planning into high gear!

Contact us to learn more about how you can leverage these fundraising ideas and solutions.

The Art of Fundraising – 5 Best Fundraising Practices for an Arts & Culture Organization


Donations are the livelihood of your organization.  And fundraising can be challenging.  It’s both an art and a science.  In order to unlock the best practices out there, you need to find out what is making fundraising and research campaigns successful and, frankly, what’s not.  Here are five best practices for successful fundraising:

  1.  Capture Ticketing Data to Identify Donor Potential
    Arts and Culture organizations have a unique pool of individuals – their ticket purchasers – who already demonstrate a genuine interest in the mission and work of their organization. These ticket buyers already contribute to your organization’s revenue stream and represent a natural prospect pool. Once these individuals have purchased tickets and walked through your doors, you are presented with a far greater advantage—they are engaged and interested in the offerings of your organization. Now they must be cultivated while their interest level is high.  ​High performing organizations usually have a strategy to harness the information collected during ticketing. Information can be captured through online ticket purchases, surveys, and visitor kiosks placed at entrances.
  2. Leverage Membership to Fuel Your Donor Pipeline
    Your donors like to feel involved with your organization.  The benefits of membership are to regularly engage people in the mission of your organization and then to encourage them to support it financially.  By paying quality attention to this membership group, your organization can get a lively pipeline of  donors ready to be nurtured and promoted to the next donation tier. Benefits could include: discounts, valet parking, special events, backstage tours, post-performance receptions, event privileges, gift store discounts, educational seminars, magazine subscriptions, and free admission. 
  3. Leverage Your Board to Build an Inner Circle
    While some organizations see active fundraising participation from their board and volunteers, others wish theirs were more active and involved.  The model board candidate has a circle of friends that show a similar giving capacity and inclination toward the Arts.  You want your board members to reach out to these friends and help the development team cultivate with a personal touch, ultimately strengthening your organization’s major gift pipeline.
  4. Invest in Screening
    Upgrading current donors and identifying new prospects are challenges for arts organizations.  Invest in a screening of your donors and prospects to determine who has the capacity, propensity, and affinity to donate to your organization.  Screening can help you fill in the gaps and deepen your data records so you can better segment and prioritize. 
  5. Manage Your Data Proactively
    The recording and updating of donor records is a must in successful fundraising.  Properly run Donor Management Systems (DMS) secure accurate and easy to follow-up results from research and wealth screenings. A well-managed DMS and solid implementation plan is indispensable. One of the most significant ways to increase the value of the data from your wealth screening is to integrate the results into your DMS. The DMS allows your team to compile information on all donors including their contact information, giving history, special event attendance, ticketing history and other interactions with the organization.

Fundraising as an arts organization poses its own set of challenges. Don’t let these challenges derail your fundraising. Use these tips to set your organization up for success.  

Do you have a story to share about successful fundraising in your arts organization? Share in the comments below.


Grateful Patrons…Special Intelligence


I just came out of watching the latest (and maybe, just maybe the best?) Bond movie – Spectre.  Now I have to admit, I am British, I love cars, I love watches and I love Bond, so I am somewhat of a sitting duck for both the movie producers and gratuitous product placements that seem to be everywhere in Bond movies.   Walking out of the theatre, I was on a high; I felt like James Bond’s less fashionable sibling who wanted everything his brother had!  If someone had presented me with the opportunity right then and there, I would have purchased that new Aston Martin DB10, that new Omega watch, or that oh-so-well-fitting Tom Ford suit!  

Unfortunately, I won’t be buying any of those thing right now (Bond accessories are a little out of my league) but you get the gist. Marketers dream of people like me who are caught up in the moment and will do just about anything to get what they see in front of them.  By next week, the euphoria will have worn off….I’ll be Mike Lees again (not the Bond Brother)…and I’ll have seen other cars, other suits and other tempting targets for my hard-earned cash. The moment will have passed.

So what’s the lesson here?  In sales, marketing and fundraising, timing is everything; it’s sales and marketing 101. This basic principle works in grateful patron programs as well. There are three basic pillars for qualifying a good sales or fundraising opportunity:

  1. do they have the budget?
  2. do they have the affinity or the need? And,
  3. is now a good time to ask?

Let’s look in a little more detail at these three in reverse order:

  • Timing – Place a message when your audience is most susceptible.  It’s not only product placement marketers that have been doing this successfully; healthcare fundraisers have been using this tactic with great success through Grateful Patient Programs (GPPs).  They know that frequent screening of patient records and frequent outreach to ‘grateful patients’ can yield great fundraising results.  For many years now, hospitals have been able to do more research, make necessary capital purchases and fund significant initiatives through these programs.  The same holds true for Grateful Patron Programs. You need to ask yourself…
    • How often are you screening your patrons?  Do you reach out to them when they are most ‘grateful’ (i.e. after a performance) or do you wait until later, maybe even until the end of the season?
  • Affinity – This one is easy.  Your patrons clearly have affinity to your cause….after all, they just came to watch your show, or visit your establishment; and many of them do so frequently.   But have you looked beyond this?  
    • Do you have the data and insight into their lifestyle and interests to determine what else interests them, what else may better align them with your cause?  Are there partnerships you could exploit to attract them?  For example, if you have a significant number of fashion lovers in your patron base, could you partner with a luxury brand to deliver a special event?  Consumer analytics vendors like WealthEngine can help here.
  • Resources – This one is a little harder.  You may know your most prominent patrons well.  But do you know the rest?  Do you truly know their capacity to give?  Do you have the insight to be able to make the right ask?
    • Wealth intelligence when done right can score your entire patron base and prioritize each and every one so that you focus your resources in the right place and optimize your fundraising with the right ask.  This is where tools like WealthEngine can truly make a difference.

All of this can seem a little daunting, but it really isn’t.  With some simple changes to your fundraising practices and the introduction of the right data, you can develop processes to consistently make the right ask of the right people at the right time.  

Many of your peers are already doing this (take a look here) and can attest that while you don’t need the resources and cunning of an international special agent, you do need special intelligence.   That’s where we can help.   The name’s Engine…WealthEngine.

To learn more about WealthEngine and our Grateful Patron Program offerings for Arts & Culture organizations take a look here.

From accountant and financial analyst to entrepreneur and get-to-market strategist (it’s never as easy as just going-to-market), Mike’s professional journey has armed him with a unique set of skills and perspective – starting with a product that meets unmet needs, through delivering simple and differentiated messages that generate demand, Mike has done it all.