In Florida, arts organizations adapt to new patterns of younger donors

Sarasota [Florida] Herald-Tribune, 9/26/11 [hat tip to Americans for the Arts]

For Courtney Smith, co-founder of the 3-year-old contemporary dance troupe Moving Ethos, courting supporters means straddling conflicting worlds. Older philanthropists often want traditional performances, time-intensive personal relationships and their communications in writing. Their younger counterparts want cutting-edge concerts tied to social issues, more episodic contact and electronic notifications. "They want all the information and then they want you to leave them alone so they can figure out what to do with it," says Smith, who is 27. "They want interaction, but on their own terms." While Moving Ethos is just getting off the ground, the question of how to cultivate a changing donor base confronts even the most venerable arts organizations. "In the next year or two you will see a dramatic shift, to investors who will come with money not to do what you want them to do, but to do what they want you to do," [said] Mark Brewer, chief executive of the Community Foundation of Central Florida. In today's competitive entertainment market, any organization that does not stay on top of the changes is likely to disappear, says Joe McKenna, CEO of the Sarasota Orchestra. The orchestra, rebranded in 2008, instituted multimedia programs to appeal to younger audiences, more informal and affordable fundraising events and greater use of social and electronic media. "But we're not changing enough and we're not changing fast enough - even though we've changed a lot," says McKenna, whose 63-year-old organization has benefitted from the multimillion-dollar gifts of World War II generation donors. "The question now is what will happen as those high-end donors recede? How will they be replaced? That's going to be the redefining element, and whoever guesses right will own the future."


New arts centers in Kansas City bring new opportunities for young donor groups

Ink blog, 8/30/11

It's an exciting time to be a part of the arts community in Kansas City. As the much-anticipated Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts prepares to open its doors, and the Kansas City Ballet makes itself at home in its new studio, the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity, groups for young professionals are preparing to take advantage of all the new opportunities and growing enthusiasm. Increasing the number of young people in the audience is important to local arts organizations because hopefully those young people will turn into lifelong supporters.

Kansas City Ballet's young professionals group, Barre, is taking its new home in the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity as an opportunity to reinvent itself. That includes an overhaul on membership dues and perks, and potentially even the group's name.
Lyric Opera Bohemians gather for dinner, drinks and a little Giacomo Puccini several times a year. "When we talk about operas, they're like movies. You like some and not others," said Jennifer Morgan, the Bohemians' president. "Some people will say, 'Well, I went to one opera and I didn't like it.' This (organization) opens them up a little bit."
Nelson-Atkins Young Friends of Art has about 500 members in their 20s and 30s. The group sponsors monthly happy hours, educational programs and popular fundraisers like Party Arty, an annual event at the museum with a fashion show, drinks and music. [The museum's] Lea Corriston says the social aspect of the group helps people who may not be familiar with Kansas City find a place to connect with other people of similar ages and backgrounds and unite through a love for art. "We hope that people will choose Kansas City and stay here and raise their families here and become invested in the arts," she said.


A North Carolina arts council's new twist on crowdfunding from younger donors

Lee Streby. Cultural Lee Speaking blog, 8/30/11

I've been smitten with crowdfunding in the arts. I knew it was only a matter of time before a local arts agency took the cue and developed an internet-based crowdfunding platform dedicated specifically to the 501(c)3 arts organizations within one community or region. Kudos to Charlotte, NC's Arts & Science Council (ASC) for their exciting new Power2Give crowdfunding web site! How does this site compare to others in the crowdfunding sphere? A few notes:

> In order to post projects on Power2Give, organizations must be approved 501(c)3 organizations funded by the Arts & Science Council within the past 5 years. Obviously, this limits the pool in ways broader crowdfunding sites do not, but that's not a negative. In my opinion, this is a strength based on principles of niche marketing and community engagement at a grassroots level.
> While project creators are limited, project donors still may come from anywhere. That's the true beauty of crowdfunding as a concept. Through the power of social media and personal networks, the potential donor pool for projects can be vastly larger than those living in the Charlotte area alone. Obviously, local patrons will primarily drive these campaigns forward, but support can mushroom outward.

> Because ASC is a 501-c-3, all gifts to approved projects on the site are fully tax deductible as allowed by law, something that many leading crowdfunding sites don't offer, because they are run as for-profit enterprises.

> Unlike Kickstarter (currently the industry leader in crowdfunding), Power2Give does not follow the all-or-nothing rule, in which the project creator is not funded unless they reach or exceed a financial goal by a deadline. Power2Give forwards all contributions made to each appropriate arts organization, less their modest administrative fee of 12%. If a project does not meet its goal, they ask the arts organization to communicate modifications to their donors, or postpone the project's completion date.

I think that internet-based crowdfunding has a lot of growth potential as a fundraising tool in the arts. It is becoming an appealing way for tech-savvy young donors to get engaged in creative projects and begin giving at a level that is comfortable for them.


In New Orleans, a self-sustaining giving circle develops Next Gen donors, trustees

Community Foundations National Standards Board website, 6/21/11

Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans is a diverse group of young professionals aged 25-39 who want to make a difference in New Orleans. The idea is simple: Each member donates $500, which is matched dollar for dollar by outside sponsorships. The class divides into issue-based teams that are selected based on the interest of the participants. Grantmaking teams change every year, and have included education, arts, economic development, environment, healthcare and housing. Over the course of six months, each team manages an entire grant process - developing focus statements, issuing RFPs, reviewing applications, conducting site visits, and awarding grants. Realizing that young people may not have the financial assets of their parents and grandparents, EPNO has reached out with the message that anyone can be a philanthropist, and that there is power in numbers. Although giving circles are nothing new, EPNO is unique in that it presents a self-sustaining model both financially (program alums secure matching gifts for all current participants' donations) and in terms of leadership (alums run the program for future classes). This unique model sets EPNO apart. The concept is catching on. The group began in 2009 with a pilot class of 18 individuals. From 2010 to 2011, the applicant pool grew by 75%, with a total of 70 individuals competing for 35 slots in the 2011 Class. "It's pretty unbelievable," says Lauren Jacobs Benjamin, a member of EPNO's advisory board and one of the 18 original EPNO members. "A bunch of working professionals in their 20s and 30s - a traditionally busy and over-committed demographic without much disposable income - are competing to donate their hard-earned income and six months of their time." Since its inception, the group has distributed $47,000 in grants to 13 local nonprofits. EPNO encourages its members to think beyond dollars, however. They encourage members to provide their intellectual capital as a contribution, whether it is proficiency in law, marketing, fundraising or another valuable asset. More than 80% of each class has volunteered or plans to volunteer with the organizations they made grants to. Additionally, many nonprofits that are looking for younger board members have contacted EPNO to connect with their alums.

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