More fun donation tools

In the last post, we talked about QR codes and taking advantage of the impulse to support an organization with easy microdonations.

Because it’s the season for giving, I’ve been inundated with the usual annual fundraising appeals.  In the last few days, I’ve received four traditional-style appeal letters — cover letter (with P.S.!), nice glossy brochure, reply card and envelope.  Because I save these to share with my students, I got a kick out of the fact that all four of these are exactly the same format as last year’s letters.  I hope that means that they were successful, not that the organizations were lazy.

But I’ve also received some non-traditional appeals, and for whatever reason, those are the ones I’m drawn to this season.  The first one came from UWGB, and it used an unusual approach: taking advantage of the appeal letter to announce that there would be no appeal this year.  In light of budget cuts and contentious salary negotiations for Wisconsin’s state employees, this was a very wise move.  But at the same time, the e-mail letter acknowledged that some people may still want to give, and a link was provided to a site where you could do so securely and easily.  I gave.

A user-friendly donation website is a wonderful tool.  It allows the organization to offer a variety of services, links to information, videos, and answers to frequently asked questions.  To me, it is better than the old-fashioned brochure enclosure since it can be changed and adapted to respond to different constituencies and campaign progress.  It can also be (gasp) fun.  Here is a link to a wonderful campaign website from one of my favorite organizations, the Traverse City Film Festival.  I am constantly amazed by their success, but you can see some of the reasons for their success by visiting their campaign site.  They have several different giving opportunities, budget information, an appeal letter from TCFF founder Michael Moore, and even a fun little click-to-vote donation where you can choose University of Michigan or Michigan State and have a $10 donation deducted from your account.

Americans for the Arts is offering a cute little holiday promotion – with a donation to AFTA, you can send a holiday e-card to a friend of your choice.  Here’s one of them:

Sample holiday card from Americans for the Arts

I love this creativity, and I believe that all of these take advantage of time-tested giving realities: you need to engage donors’ imaginations, you need to make it easy for them to support you, and you need to get their attention.


About Ellen Rosewall

I am Professor and Chair of Arts Management and author of Arts Management: Uniting Arts and Audiences in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 2013). I believe that arts and culture are undergoing a profound change in the 21st century, and I love talking with people about how we continue to bring arts to our communities and individuals give the brave new world of social media, technology and economic changes. Join the conversation!
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