Creative Fundraising Combats Budget Cuts in The Arts

Members of the Phoenix Chorale

The arts have traditionally relied on philanthropic endowments and government support for their survival. In these times of international economic struggle, these once reliable funding sources are facing reductions and near extinction. Subsistence needs seem to be taking precedence over artistic endeavors, and the arts have found themselves to be on the front of the line of the chopping block of budget cuts. Many symphony orchestras have filed bankruptcy and more are desperately trying to find the funding to make up for huge budget deficits. Opera, theatre, and dance companies are not faring much better. The huge cuts to government funding, reduction of corporate support, and dying breed of philanthropic institutions have combined to create a vacuum in the funding possibilities for the arts. In addition, the focus audience for many of these performing arts is an aging one, and the population of ticket buyers is not being sufficiently replaced. These factors have incited a need for creative fundraising techniques. Three DoJiggy customers are perfect examples of this new wave in the sea of funding for the arts.

Phoenix ChoralePhoenix Chorale is a 27 voice, Grammy award winning chorus. The chorus counts 60 years of existence with the last 20 years as a professional ensemble. Ticket sales and income from recordings cover only 20% of their overall budget, so The Phoenix Chorale relied heavily on city and state funding and individual donor support. In the face of the slashed budgets from these resources, the chorus had to look for new methods of raising funds and the 30K in 30 days campaign was born. The ambitious objective was to raise $30,000 in just 30 days of fundraising.

Social media and online fundraising made this dynamic initiative possible. Jen Rogers, Marketing and Communications Director, commended the members of the ensemble as being the driving force behind this successful event. The campaign empowered the artists to defend the survival of their passion. In the first day they reached 10% of their goal and by the 28th day they had surpassed it. The focus on cultivating individual relationships lead to a strengthening of the community and a commitment to save this niche art form as an integral and enriching part of society. Rogers says, “It’s never easy to ask people for money, but if you make it fun it really helps.” The campaign raised over $42,000 from local individuals and they are already planning to surpass their achievement next year.

­ Theoubique Cabaret Theatre in Chicago also used their creative expertise in a special virtual fundraising event this year. The 13 year old institution is a community based organization and has relied more on their benefactors and ticket sales than grants. Theoubique saw online fundraising not only as a way to raise funds, but also to broaden awareness and support in a wider reach within the community. They decided to “captivate” their audience. Fifteen audience members were captivated in their theatre seats and supporters could help release them through on line donations. Barbara Moore from the consulting firm  We Affect Change helped organize the event. She comments,”This is a very difficult time for arts funding. Some foundations have fully, if temporarily, cut their arts funding. Individuals are giving less, and business advertisers are also cutting back.  We are trying to connect social marketing and online fundraising with in person events, such as the CAPTIVATED release party.”

Photo from Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for ChildrenInvestment in the future of the arts is also at stake with this climate of reduced funding. Rosie’s House is a music academy for children in Phoenix, Arizona. They believe that the opportunity for underserved youth to take advantage of the gift of music enhances their daily lives by providing direction, stability, and the tools for future success. Anne White, a fundraising consultant for the organization, has seen the same trend in reduction of institutional funding but is inspired by the continued support from individuals. She sees 82% of overall donations coming from the private sector in the organizations she works with.  The trend in on-line fundraising is a direct confrontation to specific obstacles faced by the arts. She states, “One of the challenges for the classical arts organizations is the increasing age of their patrons. There is not a clear line of who is going to take their place. Innovative and creative ideas to attract younger audiences are essential and websites, facebook and twitter must all play a part.”

Photo from Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for ChildrenRosie’s House holds an annual golf tournament as one of their special fundraising events. They have found that the tournament attracts 25-40 year olds, not only as participants, but as donors. This ability to reach a younger audience is essential for the sustainability of classical arts institutions. As they prepare for this years tournament, Rosie’s House is gearing up to top the $33,000 they raised last year.

Difficult times often call for extreme measures. We are thrilled to see creativity as the  extreme means for these organizations. Please check out their DoJiggy online fundraising sites below.


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