For some folks, the “fun” in fundraising is anything but. From identifying your goals and potential donors, to developing fundraising plans and staying on top of deadlines – all the while keeping everything organized – there are many parts to consider. While it may feel a little overwhelming at first, having a clear game plan and keeping your messaging on point will go a long way in keeping your campaign on track and helping you reach your ultimate goal.
Tammy Davis, executive director of United Way of Newfoundland & Labrador and president of the Newfoundland & Labrador chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, will host a fundraising workshop (geared specifically toward the arts) on February 13 at St. John’s City Hall. We recently chatted with Tammy about the importance of clear communication, consistency in messaging and cultivating connections.
Business & Arts NL: How does the process of fundraising in the arts differ from fundraising in other sectors?
Tammy Davis: I think in many ways the process is very similar. Fundraising it and of itself is a science and an art, and the means that we use to be successful transcend the cause. There may be factors that influence how you fundraise within a particular sector, due to the audience or the cause, but ultimately the methods and mechanisms to the end goal are all the same. The arts sector may have more challenges than some due to misconceptions about charitable status, but this can also be mitigated with the creativity that comes natural to many in the sector.
Business & Arts NL: Can you provide some tips on how those raising funds in the arts can best reach their intended audience/potential donors?
TD: The very first place you must look is within your immediate community – meaning your volunteers, and your artists. While they may not be your high-yield donors, it is more likely that you’ll find someone connected to the target audience/donor within those that are already committed to your cause. Having this built-in connection with an ambassador and advocate of your organization can lead to doors being opened more easily than through cold calls. Ensuring that you are clearly communicating the need, the cause and the impact of the donations you are seeking is the next step. Any volunteers need to be armed with consistent information, and if needed, organizations must invest in training those volunteers in making the ask.
Business & Arts NL: When it comes to fundraising and other projects, some folks prefer to just run with it and tweak things as they go – others, not so much. Can you speak to the importance of having a game plan?
TD: There is importance to consistency in messaging and in your requests. Without a plan, you increase the risk that volunteers or employees may misstate or overstate what funds being raised are to be used for; or the recognition that could be offered to donors.
Business & Arts NL: For those who might’ve tried following a fundraising plan to the letter, but still didn’t quite reach their goals, what can you say to them to keep them from getting discouraged?
TD: Unfortunately, there is no magic pill for fundraising! When I first started, one of my mentors said that “Every No brings you closer to your next Yes”. This may not save you from becoming discouraged though! As a personal aside, I find it heartening that if there are troubles reaching your goal, you can look to make changes in your request – your story, your message, your ask. Finding this new story may be the salve to soothe you and may give you that personal lift that allows you to become more passionate and more encouraged about why you do what you do. And this reigniting of your passion will be obvious to the next potential donor you speak to!
Workshop: Fundraising for the Arts 101
Date: Monday, February 13 from 1pm-4pm
Location: St. John’s City Hall, Foran-Greene Room
Price: $20 Business & Arts NL members/$30 General public
Advance registration is required.
For more on Tammy’s workshop, click here.