Fundraising Strategies in the Arts


Guest Post By: Professor Sherburne Laughlin, Director of the Arts Management Program at American University

How has fundraising been going this year? Are your contributions falling, flat, or even better, increasing? Are there particular strategies that are working better than others in this stressed economy? Are there strategies that you have abandoned altogether? This chat is meant for small to medium sized arts organizations and for beginning development professionals.

According to the recently released report from Giving USA, 2011 was a flat year. In fact, the distribution of contributed income sources did not budge one percentage point. However, folks are still out there giving–we in the arts just have to be smart and targeted. In particular, individual and foundations have hung tough, where corporations and the government have retreated. All sources will tell you that the main reason they did not give was: They were not asked. There are many strategies and much research nonprofit arts organizations can use to attract, retain and increase donors. We will discuss this and more during our chat on July 13 at 2pm.

Here are some questions to get us going on our chat:

  • What is the budget size of your organization? What percentage is contributed income?
  • What is your organization’s largest source of contributed income?
  • Has any source increased over the past year or so?
  • What do you do to attract new individual donors?
  • What do you do to retain current donors?
  • What types of foundations support your organization? What types of projects do they support?
  • What types of corporations support your organization?

About Sherburne Laughlin

Sherburne Laughlin is the Director and Professorial Lecturer at the Arts Management Program at American University. Ms. Laughlin holds an MBA from Yale University, an Executive Leadership Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Harvard University and is a cum laude graduate in economics from Davidson College. Her nonprofit management career spans over 20 years of executive director and program director experience. As a professor for 13 years at American University, she has developed top-ranked courses in Strategic Planning, Fundraising, and Boards and Governance. Her prior consulting work focuses on issues of governance, organizational development and strategic planning and serves all types of nonprofits, arts and non-arts, large and small, national and local. Laughlin also managed and provided training and consulting services for a large NEA/Maryland State Arts Council Advancement Grant in the late 1990s and worked with hundreds of small to mid-size arts organizations in Maryland to improve their capacity. She has served on many arts grants panels, including the Montgomery County and Fairfax County Arts Council, the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities and the national VSA arts panel. Having previously served on numerous boards, Laughlin is currently a member of the Advisory Board of Round House Theater and sits on the Board of Trustees of Davidson College. Laughlin is the Academic Director of Art Cart, an innovative initiative to archive the work of aging visual artists. She is a member of ArtTable and served as the Chair of the Association of Arts Administrators Conference in 2010. Professor Laughlin is currently on the board of the Association of Arts Administration Educators and serves on that association’s committee to review Graduate Standards in Arts Management. She is a long-distance swimmer, avid reader, and mother of two active sons.

Join Us This Week!

  • Tune in on Friday, July 13 at 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern (6:00 p.m. GMT) to participate in the sixth round of #artsmgtchat.
  • Follow @artsmgtchat for questions. You can use TweetChat to follow the discussion. Make sure you use the hashtag #artsmgtchat to be included in the discussion.
  • If you are new to our Twitter chat, please check out our Twitter Chat 101 guide.
  • Bring a colleague to this Friday’s #artsmgtchat.
  • Tweet this post and share with friends on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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