This post by Doug Borwick is part of a series of collaborations and is cross-posted to his blog Engaging Matters on Arts Journal.
This is part of a series of blog posts in conjunction with TRG Arts on the interrelationships among marketing, development, fundraising, and community engagement. The point of the series is that they are all rooted in relationship building and maintenance.
Today we’re talking about definitions. Oh great! But if all of these things are related, we’ve got to be able to understand how they are similar and how they differ. That’s what definitions are for. Plus, what can you expect from someone who spent three decades as a college professor? And that is actually a critical point.
I am not nor have I ever been an on-the-ground professional in marketing or fundraising. Being aware of that, my level of humility in talking about these subjects is very high. What I do have experience in is analyzing words, differentiating among related concepts, and crafting definitions that clarify them. That requires theoretical thinking time–a luxury not available to the people doing the “real work” in the trenches.
In the nonprofit world, marketing and development have been viewed as two different disciplines. Marketing has focused on messages to external publics and sales. Development has focused on messages to external publics and contributed income–grants and donations. [Some writers use the phrase “unearned income” for this category. Knowing what it takes to get those funds, plus the reasons for the contributions, that has always made me craz(y) . . . (ier).]
Do you see what I just did? It’s an old professor thing to set up a question in the listener’s mind. “So, if they both begin with ‘messages to external publics,’ aren’t they pretty closely related?” Bingo. And of course that’s why some organizations combine marketing and development.
Of all the terms under consideration here, development may be the most ambiguous. Exactly what is being developed? The answer is contributed income. However, since there are other things that can be developed (e.g., relationships, collaborative partnerships, earned income, volunteer pools), equating development with fundraising is a bit confusing, especially to outsiders or newcomers to the field. It is also, as I hope to show here, limiting.
I have been struggling for years with a theoretical construct that effectively labels this work. I’ve not yet succeeded. What follows is an outline, a work in progress, that presents the various external relationship functions of an arts organization, beginning with claiming the word “development” as the top-level descriptor.
Development: External Relationships
There is much to be said about each item in this list and there’s not room in this format to do that justice. More will certainly follow here and perhaps in another format later. In the meantime, at the risk of kicking the hornets’ nest, success in development (as the term is used in the outline) cannot be achieved divorced from a voice in programming decisions. Since much current arts marketing is highly self-referential, there is certainly a good deal that can be done to increase sales of the status quo simply by taking a more externally focused approach. Nevertheless, especially for effective community engagement, it will be necessary to have development and programming partner in the selection of work presented. More on that, obviously, later.
- Marketing/Communications (including branding)
- Self-generated messages, dialogue (social media) based on research
- Results (Quantifiable metrics: immediate and medium term)
- Sales/Program Revenue
- Fundraising/Contributed Income (Beneficiaries and Third Party Payers)
- Volunteer Resources
- Governance Volunteers (board members)
- Operational Volunteers
- Clients/Beneficiaries (some programming does not involve sales)
- Community Relationships (aka Community Engagement)
- Means: Direct interpersonal interaction with individuals and groups
- Results (Quantifiable metrics: long term–sometimes very long term)
- Increased relationships w/individuals and groups
- #’s (g., mailing lists, followers)
- Requests for partnerships
- Increased support
- Contributed Income
- Volunteer resources
Engaging Matters: www.artsjournal.com/engage
Doug Borwick is author of Engaging Matters, a blog for ArtsJournal, author/editor of Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. and author of Engage Now! A Guide to Making the Arts Indispensable. One of the country's leading advocates for the arts and community engagement Dr. Borwick has served as keynote speaker and workshop presenter at conferences across the U.S. and Canada as well as in Beijing and Singapore. He is past President of the Board of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, an international organization of higher education programs in the field. For three decades he served as Director of the Arts Management and Not-for-Profit Management Programs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. He is currently CEO of Outfitters4, Inc., providing management services for nonprofits and of ArtsEngaged, offering training and consultation services to artists and arts organizations seeking to more effectively engage with their communities. Dr. Borwick holds the Ph.D. in Music Composition from the Eastman School of Music and is an award-winning member of ASCAP.