fundraising
fundraising
Oct18


Your annual fund campaign doesn't have to be business as usual. Get the secrets your peers use to reach results that go beyond expectations, and find out how to easily implement them now! You'll walk away inspired and equipped to raise funds in new, exciting, and engaging ways that will leave your supporters asking what else they can do to help.

TRG Arts is collaborating with Blackbaud Arts and Cultural Group to bring you valuable tips and strategies with our new on-demand webinar series: Ignite. Click through to watch the next video in the series.

Posted October 18, 2016







Jul11

Annual fund success: more donors, bigger gifts, more often

41% increase in annual fund upgrades

 

Photo by Taylor Ford
When Kansas City Repertory Theatre began its Capacity Building Consulting partnership with TRG Arts in January 2014, increasing patron revenue, both earned and contributed, was the top priority.

TRG conducted an initial Baseline Assessment, which analyzed patron, pricing, and revenue data to identify key issues at KC Rep. Among them were aligning resources with revenue opportunities and focusing on building loyalty in addition to prospecting. The assessment identified the annual fund as an opportunity for growth. After a large influx of new lower-level donors in the 2011-12 season due to a one-time experiment with telefunding, donors and revenue had dropped off and stayed flat.


Posted July 11, 2016







Jun21

Jill Robinson at the 2016 League of American Orchestras conferenceA patron’s loyalty is built step-by-step with each interaction with your organization. Each purchase and each donation is an indicator of the affinity that patrons feel for the organization. The problem in the evolution of patrons often occurs in the hand-off between marketing and development.

In this session, presented in 2016 at the League of American Orchestras Conference, Jill Robinson and Lindsay Anderson discussed patron segmentation strategies and proven practices for closing the gap between subscribers and donors.


Posted June 21, 2016







Apr07

 Keri Mesropov,
VP of Client Services
 Jim DeGood, 
Director of Client Services

Think audience development is marketing’s job? Think again. All departments play a critical role in retaining and cultivating loyal patron relationships.

Marketing gets people in the door and cultivates them to membership or subscribership. However, a patron’s loyalty builds with each interaction they have with youfrom the first time they consider buying a single ticket, to renewing their annual fund gift—and in absolutely every interaction in between. Patron services, artistic staff, development, and executive leaders all must align their objectives with that of patron loyalty in order to make a patron-centered business model work.

Join Keri Mesropov and Jim DeGood from TRG’s expert consulting team to learn today’s best practices for creating lasting patron relationships, across departmental silos.  


Posted April 7, 2016







Mar31

 Trisha Kirk
Director of Marketing,
Guthrie Theater
Danielle St.Germain-Gordon
Director of Development,
Guthrie Theater

Creative placemaking. Community engagement. Mobile beaconing. Customer relationship management.

If there’s one thing the arts industry has no shortage of, it’s buzzwords. What makes buzzwords so enticing? Behind each is the promise of the next best practices for the arts, the next strategy or tactic that could help organizations succeed sustainably.

We submit, for your consideration, this one: “integrated loyalty development.”

Like most buzzwords, the words somewhat obscure the meaning. Put simply, it’s aligning all departments in an organization around the cultivation of loyal patron relationships. It describes the magic that happens when organizations move beyond transactions and “just trying to make goal” for event after event. Instead, integration means investing in and being accountable to fostering their patrons’ passion for the arts, in all areas of their business.


Posted March 31, 2016







Feb18

This post is the final in a series by TRG and Piper Foundation Fellow Vincent VanVleet where he’ll report on his travels across the U.S. and Canada to research the impact of patron loyalty. Read more of his posts here>>


Image by Sean MacEntee (CC BY 2.0)

Those of you who are regular followers of this blog know that I’ve been writing a series on my learnings from a fellowship sabbatical journey last summer. 

I wanted to finish the series by writing about the impact that this time to learn has had on my organization, Phoenix Theatre. I can’t do that without dedicating this post to the foundation that both devised that program and is investing in non-profit leaders with their incredible philanthropy--the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. 

I am told that Virginia G. Piper, while alive, made it a point to meet personally with the leadership of the organizations she funded, which were many. She asked each of those leaders the same question:  “If I give your organization money, will you commit to staying on and stewarding my gift over the next five years?” It’s a fascinating idea upon which to base funding, especially considering the problem of turnover and leadership burnout in nonprofit organizations. She’s asking, “If I invest in you, will you invest it back into your organization and this community?” It is with that philosophy I imagine the fellowship program was born. The Piper Fellowship program “acknowledges the never-ceasing demands of nonprofit leadership and offers opportunities to retool, refresh and renew.”


Posted February 18, 2016







Jan11


Lindsay Anderson
VP of Client Development
Think audience development is marketing’s job? Think again. All departments play a critical role in retaining and cultivating patron relationships. In order to make a patron-centered business model work, all departments—including ticketing and patron services, artistic staff, development, and executive leaders—must align their objectives with that of patron loyalty. 

In this session, presented at the 2016 Chamber Music America conference in New York City, both executives and staff members will reexamine how they lead and collaborate on initiatives that create lasting patron relationships. TRG's VP of Client Development Lindsay Anderson looked at how cross-departmental campaigns build loyalty, how a sales orientation in the patron services department can bolster marketing-development collaboration, and how artistic programming can also factor into loyalty-building.

Posted January 11, 2016







Jan06

Single tickets up 59%, gifts up 125%

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (Royal MTC) was stable throughout the recession. However, the company saw a dip in patron-generated revenue in the 2011–12 season, attributed to changes in their entertainment landscape, including the return of the beloved Winnipeg Jets. With flat annual fund donations and declining single tickets and subscriptions, Royal MTC prioritized reversing patron decline and revenue losses.

Royal MTC relied heavily on their subscriber base, which was one of the largest among Canadian regional theatres. Even with strong renewal rates, subscriber decline is inevitable without strong campaigns to attract new subscribers. In Royal MTC’s case, the subscriber audience far outweighed the single ticket audience, which meant they often did not have the sheer number of leads necessary to fuel successful subscriber acquisition campaigns. That, coupled with a low volume of individual donors, created a patron loyalty challenge at Royal MTC.


Posted January 6, 2016







Nov03

Putting your patrons at the center grows your revenues beyond what marketing or development could do alone. In this session presented at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation's Art of Change Workshop, participants learned the tangible benefits of casting off a siloed business model in favor of one that treats your patrons holistically, from their ticket-buying to their philanthropy. TRG's Vice President of Client Service Keri Mesropov examined how leading toward an integrated organization requires strong change management skills, but the payoff can be big loyalty gains. How can executives (and aspiring executives) break down the traditional silos between artistic, marketing and development to put your patrons at the center of revenue growth?


Posted November 3, 2015







Nov03

Photo by James Jordan (CC BY-ND 2.0)

A year and a half ago I was invited to join TRG’s bi-annual Executive Summit in Colorado Springs. Taking the time away is always difficult but I decided to take two days to make the journey. I was grateful to reconnect with and be re-introduced to many things I already knew and some I didn’t. The session was a good reminder of what I should be focusing on. The distractions of running an organization tend to take you down distant trails into the wilderness.

There was one thing that really grabbed my attention. TRG’s President & CEO Jill Robinson reported on work that they had done with the Guthrie Theater, examining loyalty as it related to genres of programming. The genre breakdowns were pretty typical, i.e. blockbuster musicals, dramas, new works, Shakespeare, etc. There were also no surprises that blockbuster programs generated the most revenue, had the highest price point, and, of course, the highest attrition rate. Like pouring water into a funnel, most of the blockbuster patrons had flushed through and right back out again.


Posted November 3, 2015







Oct21

This post is part of a series of collaborations with Doug Borwick and is cross-posted to his Engaging Matters blog on Arts Journal.

Photo by Neo Wang (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Arts Journal blogger Doug Borwick recently wrote a post on the role of marketing and development departments that captured my attention. In the following quote he summarizes an issue that I’ve been thinking about for a long time:

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…

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.

Marketing and development are closely related. But there are differences. In strict transactional terms, marketing departments largely manage Business (arts organization) to Consumer (patron) relationships. On the other hand, development department work is both “B-to-C” (where the consumer is in the form of donors/members) and “B-to-B” (Business to Business, where the organization is managing relationships and income from foundations, sponsors and other funding agencies). Talk to any marketing or development professional and they’ll tell you: the work is different in managing these different kinds of relationships and revenue streams.


Posted October 21, 2015







Oct13

This is the fifth video in our series on the 6 metrics that arts leaders should be tracking and managing.

Measure What Matters: 6 Metrics Arts Leaders Should Track

Metric #5: % of subscriber-donors

Is renewal rate the best measurement of loyalty? While it shows how many subscribers or members arts organizations are retaining, it doesn’t indicate if patrons are growing in their loyalty. In this video, Keri Mesropov of TRG Arts explains why renewal rate can be deceptive and the metric arts organizations should consider tracking alongside it.


Posted October 13, 2015







Sep30

This post by Doug Borwick is part of a series of collaborations and is cross-posted to his blog Engaging Matters on Arts Journal.

Photo: Some rights reserved by Mark Cartwright

Three years ago I published a post titled The Farmer and the Cowman in which I acknowledged an epiphany about the relationship between arts marketing and community engagement. In the past six months I have, on several occasions, been re-confronted with the truth of their close relationship (when both are being done well). This was really driven home to me in the highly flattering (and most embarrassing) post written by Trevor O’Donnell Taking a Cheap Shot at Community Engagement.

In April I met with Amelia Northrup-Simpson of TRG Arts and we began hatching a plot. Beginning with some cross-posting on our blogs we would explore the relationships between our respective areas of expertise. This post is my introduction to that effort.


Posted September 30, 2015







Jul29

This post is part in a series by TRG and Piper Foundation Fellow Vincent VanVleet where he’ll report on his discoveries as he travels the country to research the impact of patron loyalty. Read more of his posts here.

Photo by Erik Schepers (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Are you investing in your audience?

You might read that question and think, “What a silly question—of course we’re investing in our audience.” But, really and truly—lip service about the value of your audience is not enough.

Put another way: Are you spending money on keeping your audience happy and serving them well?


Posted July 29, 2015







May08

"Loyalty takes time." That was the key point that Jill Robinson, President & CEO of TRG Arts, put forth in a discussion of young donors at the 2015 Opera America Conference in Washington, DC. The panel's premise was that, with opera audiences growing older, companies must focus their attention on new generations of support. While development departments may have mastered the appeal to traditionalists and baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials are looking for something else. Attendees at this standing-room only session learned what the data says about these patrons, what matters to next gen donors, and how opera companies can engage them. 


Posted May 8, 2015







May05


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in
One Thousand Pieces by
 Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo.
Photo by Todd Rosenberg.
Categorizing arts patrons simply as ticket buyers, subscribers, or donors can hide the total value of the investments they make with an arts organization. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago tracked patterns of patron investment holistically, across those categories. What they found led them to cultivate audiences in a completely new ways.

Chief Marketing and Development Officer Bill Melamed of Hubbard Street and ‎Amelia Northrup-Simpson of TRG Arts presented this session at the 2015 Do Good Data Conference, detailing how audiences are engaging differently with Hubbard Street nearly two years later. This is a story about the important role data plays in centering an organization around patron loyalty, and how Hubbard Street acted on that data. 

Posted May 5, 2015







Mar06


Photo by bixentro (CC BY 2.0)

This season at Dallas Theater Center (DTC), a great love story unfolded; however, it was not presented on the stage. During a recent TRG Executive Summit, Managing Director Heather Kitchen shared a tale of romance which both inspired and invoked a bit of envy from the other participants. It was the story of her data manager and the two departments that loved her.

How was this data manager able to make such an impact on DTC? She is part of a larger organizational culture that believes in data and its power as an enabler. Once everyone in the organization is aligned around the need for quality patron data the real work can begin. The next question is: what can leaders DO to enable successful data-driven Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and precision targeted marketing in their organizations? In the Summit, we usually talk through an assortment of enablers, but consistently the topic of having a dedicated data manager leads to the liveliest discussions.

When we got to that point in this past Summit, Heather raised her hand. With a big smile on her face.


Posted March 6, 2015







Feb23

Number of annual fund gifts up 51%, revenue up 28%


Addison (LeRoy McClain, left) clashes with his brother
Frank (Shane Taylor) over their family’s future as their
aunt Dorcas (Stephanie Berry) intervenes in the
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s world premiere
production of Safe House by playwright and
Cincinnati native Keith Josef Adkins. 
Photo by Sandy Underwood.
By the end of the 2011-2012 season, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park had been slowly losing audiences for the last seven years. Although revenue had grown by 12%, admissions were down 18%.  

Believing patrons preferred more flexibility than a fixed seat subscription package offers, the Playhouse had expanded their focus on selling more Build Your Own (BYO) subscriptions and prospecting for new single ticket buyers. The BYO subscriptions were popular, but subscribers renewed at much lower rates. Total subscription units had dropped 30% since the 2008-09 season.

In turn, subscription declines had diminished the number of patrons likely to give to the annual fund. Declines in loyalty contributed to a 21% decline in donors who gave under $2,500 over the last five years. Although overall annual fund revenue was only down 1.7%, overall donor households had declined by 19%.

Posted February 23, 2015







Feb13

 Evolution of patron loyalty“Art cannot meaningfully exist without an audience. Loyal audiences build sustainable organizations.” That was one of the main takeaways in a blog post Jill wrote last month about the somewhat puzzling fact that subscriptions still exist in the arts. Jill contended that subscriptions still sustain the arts because they encourage patrons to attend and invest more, deepening audience loyalty.

Loyalty and its role in strengthening arts organizations is an idea we talk about often at TRG. Why? Sustainable organizations require sustained engagement and investment from patrons. That engagement and investment begins with the audiences who already—right now—support your art. Unless your organization is just launching, you already have a variety of patrons who lie somewhere on the spectrum of audience development.


Posted February 13, 2015







Jun19

Love the ones you're with--opportunity lies with existing patronsWhat happens when data analysis shows that some things you’re doing really well are also impeding future success? If you’re the Guthrie Theater looking at TRG’s loyalty and root cause analysis, you galvanize your whole team around keeping patrons and growing their ongoing support. In this workshop, TRG’s President & CEO Jill Robinson shared the metrics and patron behavior findings that alerted Guthrie and informed change. Trish Kirk, Guthrie’s Director of Marketing & Audience Development, described choices, actions, and new practices Guthrie has undertaken. Learn from Guthrie's experience how putting patron loyalty first can help sustain your theater. 

Posted June 19, 2014







Mar20

To develop donors and cultivate patron love that lasts, you have to start with a visitor’s first paid admission. In this webinar, learn from two decades of arts patron research what it takes to make donors—and keep them. 

With each ticket sale or donation transaction, you gain important information that can help you develop lasting relationships with your patrons. The patron loyalty experts at TRG Arts, a consulting firm, say the process of meeting patrons is like a love story. 

This one-hour webinar with TRG's VP of Strategic Communications Joanne Steller will cover transactions that are turning points in your patron relationships and specific cultivation tactics that will help your donors fall in love with your organization. 

Grab your marketing, ticket office, and development colleagues to watch this informative webinar – because you all have a role to play in building donor relationships.

Posted March 20, 2014







Mar12

Donation successes at Ordway Center, Des Moines Performing Arts and Arena Stage


Why Box Office Asks Work

Collaborating cross-departmentally to grow loyalty is essential to long-term revenue growth. However, in many organizations, the box office isn’t integrated into development campaigns. TRG Arts sees development, marketing and the box office as deeply intertwined. A healthy development department depends on marketing to deliver donor-ready patrons. The box office regularly interacts directly with patrons and so can make asks that are both appropriate in the moment and that do a great deal to deepen loyalty. For example, a telefunding follow-up call to a first-time single ticket buyer may push the new patron relationship too far, while an invitation to add on a donation during a purchase may seem more natural.

TRG research shows that no matter the size of the gift, the effects of donating on loyalty and overall lifetime value can be tremendous, turning short-term revenue into long-term opportunity. Most major donors are cultivated from lower giving levels, rather than entering the organization as brand new high-level donors. Given this fact, campaigns where a front-line sales team like the box office asks for a lower-level gift make sense—and also make money.


Posted March 12, 2014







Oct04

"What makes a patron donor ready?" TRG President Jill Robinson asked this question to open her session at the 2013 Blackbaud Conference in Washington, D.C. The answer was not a "what," but a "who"—you do. Arts managers hold in their hands the power to cultivate a patron relationship from ticket buyer to donor... or not.

In her session entitled "The Making of a Donor-Ready Patron", Jill helped conference participants evaluate their own cultivation efforts alongside the happily-ever-after best practices that are sustaining smart arts organizations. In the slides below and Blackbaud's post summarizing the session, you too can learn about the loyalty steps your patrons are taking toward donor-readiness and the initiatives you can take to keep moving patron relationships to the next level. 


Posted October 4, 2013







Sep06

TRG Arts has been busy teaching this summer on the road and on the web. We’ve rounded up our most recent insights from last month below, in case you missed anything:

The Art of the Upgrade

President Jill Robinson gave a webinar hosted by Blackbaud last week about increasing patrons’ investment in and loyalty to arts organizations through upgrading.

“The best way to increase loyalty is to ask the patron to take the right next step with you. That’s what we call upgrading,” Jill said. “That right next step is different for each patron. And the right next step is informed by information in your database.”

The most recent version of this webinar is now available here.

Slides from the presentation:
 

Posted September 6, 2013







May08

Patron relationships matter more in 2013 because the arts landscape is  “more like shifting sand than fertile soil,” said Jill Robinson,  President, at the TRG Arts May 7 webinar, Plant Loyalty Now.   The higher the portion of patron-centric revenue is, “the more organizations need to focus on, invest in, and partner with patrons to sustain income. The webinar offered strategic tactics around starting campaigns early, building on blockbusters, and patron upgrades at every level engagement.

Did you miss the webinar? Click through and see the slides, or watch the recording.


Posted May 8, 2013







Oct02

If so many arts leaders believe that marketing and development departments working together will generate better patronage results, why are so few organizations actually doing it? 

To be sure, there are ample tactical examples of successful cross-departmental collaboration on campaigns. And, a few industry leaders are engaging in organization-wide patron development – Arts Club Theatre Company and 5th Avenue Theatre are two we admire.

But integrated patron management is far from being a mainstream practice. Perhaps it’s because true marketing-development collaboration requires change and new ways of doing things that most organizations find impossibly difficult – especially on top of everything else that’s necessary to keep the art on our stages and in our exhibit halls.

Posted October 2, 2012







Jun20

Photo by Howard Lake
Findings coming out of loyalty analyses are beginning to expose a bias in the arts industry. Many arts managers are convinced that patrons are either:
•    philanthropists seeking to sustain the arts
•    or consumers seeking to experience the art form. 
This “either-or” mindset is dead wrong, according to TRG Arts study.

Posted June 20, 2012







Apr01

Matching Fund Campaign Success


Louisiana Philharmonic fundraising appealLouisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), like many organizations on the Gulf coast, faced an uncertain future after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. By May 2011, TRG had helped the orchestra re-establish a home base, grow patronage in outlying parishes, and reconstruct a database that was no longer reliable in post-Katrina New Orleans (see part one). By revamping their marketing practices, LPO’s subscriber base now exceeded pre-Katrina levels. The next priority was turning the new customers into donors.

Potential for growth.

Successful marketing campaigns had grown the prospect pool substantially; from 2006-07 to 2009-10 there had been a 28% increase in subscriber records and 99% increase in single ticket buying households. The Orchestra now had a large pool of prospects to solicit for donations. 

Posted April 1, 2012







Mar19

Eight out of ten new customers for the arts never come back after the first visit. How’s an organization supposed to raise donors against those odds? Jill Robinson, President of TRG Arts, applies two decades of arts patron behavior research to illustrate how donors grow with good cultivation and customer service by every member of an organization’s team. Get an expert overview on your organization’s best donor prospects, what you have to do to win them, and how you can keep them moving up (not down) the patronage escalator. Presented here are ideas you can implement whether you are a member of the development, marketing or ticket office team.

Posted March 19, 2012







Mar18

2012 National Alliance for Musical Theatre Conference


This presentation was given at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s 2012 Conference in Seattle by Sean Kelly, Director of Marketing and Communications, 5th Avenue Theatre and Laura Willumsen, Senior Managing Consultant, TRG Arts. Learn how The 5th Avenue Theatre, in concert with TRG Arts, is building a wholly new model of patron engagement. Organizations from small to large can benefit from viewing their patrons through the lens of loyalty. Learn techniques to drive retention as well as increase engagement and revenue.

Posted March 18, 2012







Jan27

Annual Fund Success: Right Patron,
Right Ask, Right Time


Colorado Children's Chorale's annual fund saw substantial growth in 2008-2009.Colorado Children’s Chorale (CCC) had built an annual fund that played a critical part in sustaining their programs. The fund had hit a three-year high in 2006-2007 in large part because of revenue from a popular program that offered a childcare tax write-off benefit. CCC had also sent two rounds of donor solicitation mail that year instead of the one, as they had done in the past. This success was short-lived, as the Chorale saw a sharp drop-off in donations in the following season, 2007-2008, which concerned them greatly. How could the Chorale maintain fundraising success from year to year in the future?

Posted January 27, 2012







Jan17

Super Subscribers: Saving the Day,
Seeding a Loyalty Initiative


5th Avenue Theatre marquee

The 5th Avenue Theatre faced a significant projected shortfall in the annual fund near the end of the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Previous campaigns relied almost exclusively on telefunding and the cost of sale was high. Subscribers who donated made up a small portion of the 5th’s season ticket holders, so there was clearly room to grow. 5th Avenue Theatre had to increase revenueand fast.

5th Avenue Theatre mounted a campaign targeting 2010-11 subscribers, asking them to become “Super Subscribers” who make a donation to enhance their theatre-going experience.

Posted January 17, 2012







Jun29

Based on the reports of my TRG colleagues, our recent blog posting on Demand Based Pricing prompted questions and conversations at recent national service organization meetings (Theatre Communications in Chicago, League of American Orchestras and Chorus America in Atlanta, DanceUSA in Washington, DC and Professional Association of Canadian Theatres in Cow Head, Newfoundland). Discussion revolved around how arts managers should reconcile potential revenue growth from Demand Based Pricing against long term goals of enhanced Patron Loyalty. The FAQs? Are these two concepts mutually exclusive? Do techniques designed to squeeze the maximum sales revenues for tonight’s performance come at the expense of the need to develop lasting relationships with our patrons? Do higher prices negatively impact giving levels?

My simple response is that price does impact patron loyalty. Why? Because everything impacts patron loyalty. The quality of the performance, the selection of seat location, the perception of box office success, the level of service offered by venue staff, the convenience of parking, the service and quality of the pre-curtain dinner at the restaurant across town – everything impacts the quality of the patron experience and therefore patron loyalty. Some of these issues are within our control. Others not.

Posted June 29, 2010







Return 

Upcoming Events

Professional Development Workshops

 

Killer Group Sales Campaigns - August 18, 2017; Online


Executive Summit in UK and Europe - September 28-29, 2017; Dublin, Ireland


Executive Summit in North America - October 12-13, 2017; Colorado Springs, CO

LEARN MORE

 

Conferences

Opera Europa Autumn Conference - October 1, 2017

American Museum Membership Conference - November 6-9, 2017; Seattle, WA

Americans for the Arts - National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) - November 10-13, 2017; Memphis, TN



Admin Login