Museum Fundraising

Finding creative ways to be successful in museum fundraising can be a challenge.  Inspiring donors to help with the costs of artwork restorations, installations and museum management is important when considering the value your museum brings to your community through providing art, education and an opportunity for social gathering.  Rather than just requesting donations perhaps you’d like to consider engaging members of your community to help raise funds through hosting fun and educational museum fundraising events and activities.

Host a Family Day 

Holding special activities for families one day per week is a great way to attract guests and members to your museum.  Offer a family day special with a “kids for free” coupon and raise money by donating a percentage of ticket sales on this day toward your cause.  You may also wish to request a minimum donation for museum entry but leave it open ended for those who want to contribute more.   Additional funds could be raised by reaching out to local businesses who target “families” to see if they’d like to sponsor your fundraising event.  Promote the family day in advance through your museum, email campaigns, distribute press releases, and list events on community calendars. Set up a fundraising website that explains the various activities that will be held during your family day including a schedule of art demonstrations and educational presentations, while allowing people to easily make online donations.  Be sure to include information about the cause of your fundraiser so people understand the importance of their contributions, and then track your current progress against your goals (giving people an added incentive to help you move the needle)

Museum fundraising can be really fun and inspiring for all when offering a myriad of hands-on experiences. Here are some fun activities you could include on your family day:

  • Docents could develop and lead family oriented tours that educate kids about the art in the museum.
  • Participatory activities could be held each week such as teaching watercolor painting for kids and parents to enjoy together.
  • Demonstrations from local artists or museum staff members could be held teaching kids and parents about certain art techniques like collage, color or drawing.

Lunch Lecture Series

Offer a monthly lecture series to local business people where they can enjoy their lunch hour and an educational experience with art. Charge admission (or request a minimum donation) before the presentation begins.  Allow guests to register in advance (especially if there is limited seating) for the lecture series using event registration software.   This series could include book readings and art history lectures featuring a different artist each month.  Negotiate food discounts or donated lunches from local businesses if they choose to come on board as the “monthly sponsor”.  This minimizes your out of pocket expenses, so you can keep a larger percentage of the admission fee for your cause. Implementing online fundraising software allows you to manage the various details for your event including: guest registration, donation processing, sponsor recognition, and various tracking and reporting functions.

Raise additional fundraising dollars by selling donated books or art by presenting artists following lecture series.  A fundraising raffle could be a fun add-on to this event.  Prior to your event solicit donated items from local businesses (i.e. retail, restaurant and spa gift certificates, tickets to a musical, opera or sporting event, etc.)  Each person can choose to purchase a desired number or raffle tickets prior to the presentation with winners being announced at the end of the luncheon.  Be sure to display raffle items and promote prizes in advance as it may attract attendees.

Fundraising Gala Event with Artist Presentations

Holding a VIP gala fundraising event in the evening is an effective museum fundraising activity and a great way to entice visitors. This could be a once monthly series or held annually and could include a cocktail reception, fine foods and wines, entertainment and more.

Details for your gala event can easily be managed and advertised with an online event management software tool.  Perhaps your museum would like to showcase a prominent local artist who does an on-site art presentation, or bring in a renowned chef to prepare and discuss the “art of food”.  A wonderful add-on to an upscale event like this is to offer a silent auction.  Display various “one-of-a-kind” art pieces, as well as donated items from local businesses and/or celebrities and allow guest attendees to bid on items throughout the evening.  If you’d like to extend your auction to a larger audience certain items can be offered for bid online using  charity auction software.  Perhpas you can choose to use the gala event as the opportunity to “reveal” the various pieces of work “up for bid”, then keep the display set up for the duration of the auction as it may drive traffic to your museum.

You may also be interested in creating an artistic display such as a “Wall of Fame” or “Donor Sculpture”. The display can be showcased at the museum entrance and would recognize prominent businesses and individuals for their contributions.  This could be advertised & promoted each year and possibly provide an incentive for important members and companies within your community to contribute more due to the exposure they’d receive.

Summary

Museums are a wonderful place to bring businesses, artists, schools and community members together. Teaching people about painting, photography, drawing and art history is an opportunity to inspire others and feel rewarded in return.  Getting people involved with art through hosting museum fundraising events or annual donation drives encourages them to become active members of your museum and allows you to increase fundraising dollars raised year after year.