Commentary: In 'New Normal,' fundraising must be more about what's achievable

Joanne Fritz, Guide to Nonprofit Charitable Orgs, 1/27/12

The "new normal" has come to mean leaner, meaner, pared down, and frugal. In response, a new way of fundraising is emerging as well. The next few years could be called the era of post-fundraising least those gargantuan, time-limited, big-name-led fundraising campaigns of the past.

That was the message from GuideStar's recent webinar, Strategic Philanthropy in the "New Normal," featuring Ned Zechman, John Wm. Thomas, and Dick Walker, all of Orr Associates. The new normal is "less about bold and more about achievable,' according to the webinar presenters. They predict that, although we are technically out of the recent recession, the recovery from that setback will take 3-5 years. There will continue to be rapid change, contraction of resources, and more dependence on philanthropy to fund institutions and nonprofits. What will fundraising look like now? Here are the most likely trends:

  • Our new leaders will be entrepreneurs, or at least based on the entrepreneurial model.
  • Case statements will be replaced with business plans detailing what will be done, how it will be funded, and what the "deliverables" will be. Donors will be connected to specific programs, NOT the institution.
  • The old fashioned campaign committee is out, giving way to mini boards or councils that can connect donors to the goals they care about the most. Campaign chairs and steering committees will disappear.
  • Staff will play a more visible role in cultivation and asks, and the volunteer structure will become decentralized.
  • Campaigns will not "start" and "end" but be continuous and overlapping. There will no longer be big announcements and hoopla, no kickoffs or grand finales.
  • The mini-campaign will be in. Mini-campaigns are short, have a high chance of success, and allow for focus on specific goals. They are also an antidote to donor and leadership fatigue.

Commentary: 'New Normal' in Connecticut: leveraging arts to promote biz & state

Lisa Scails, NewsTimes [Danbury CT],1/27/12

Significant policy changes regarding the arts will largely impact state funding for cities across the state and they're happening fast!  There has been a major paradigm shift beginning with the merger of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism into the DECD. Focus on major urban centers is part of the new tactic. Consolidating four of its grant programs into one initiative is another. Finally, the state has doubled the funding pool from $1.6 million to $3.1 million. The idea is simple -- significantly leverage arts resources to promote business and community. In addition, policy changes seem to have redirected focus away from isolated programs and productions and toward collaborations and initiatives with big impact.  Arts-based projects that involve creative, business, and community leaders to help create really cool places to live is the new normal. The arts and business connection is not a new one. What is new is Connecticut's perception about the arts, its role in branding the state, and the move to invest in this strategy in ways most are not used to. Not everyone is on the same page with COA's new direction. Arts leaders are grappling to adapt, especially at this high speed. It is not business as usual. With the strong emphasis on urban cities, smaller communities have questions about where do they fit in and will they be able to compete in this new environment.


Commentary: 'New Normal' in llinois: local arts networks change everything

Jennifer Armstrong, Americans for the Arts blog, 12/5/11

At our statewide arts conference this year, held un-ironically in Normal, IL, we wanted to acknowledge that there is no 'normal' to pinpoint right now, but that it will be the creative who will break through to sketch out a new normal. Our keynote speaker, Bruce Mau of Bruce Mau Design and Massive Change Network, posed a theory that the only way to break through the noise is to come together. His key takeaway was - a network changes everything. According to our post-conference survey, what leaders need most in order to have more breakthroughs is a sounding board, mixing open-mindedness, and institutional knowledge. Our Illinois Local Arts Network (LAN) provides for this and more for local arts agency leaders, and it wouldn't be possible without the collaboration of two statewide institutions and a core team of Local Arts Agency (LAA) leaders. As centerpoints of cultural activity, resources, and public will building, LAAs are uniquely positioned to strengthen and enliven their communities and help arts organizations and artists throughout Illinois sustain themselves in these challenging times. While there may be historic and pervasive cultures of silos and isolation, LAA leaders are working even more diligently to bring the arts community together, and even the greater community in many cases. It does appear to be a time of increased togetherness and willingness to put aside baggage, fear, and a sense of scarcity and competition, for the benefit of every one, as well as the whole.


Commentary: To transcend the 'New Normal,' collaborate your way through

Will Maitland Weiss, Americans for the Arts blog, 12/7/11 matter how often you have heard it before, here it is again: you are not going to fundraise your way out of the ongoing recession, which will stay very much alive and unwell through 2012. You are not going to sell enough additional tickets or at such higher prices to transcend the "New Normal." You are going to collaborate your way through. Easy? Of course not -- in fact, I think it is contradictory to the ego that is central and essential to creative genius. But you have got to try. This does not mean you have to merge; it does not mean you have to create a new 501(c)(3) consortium organization. It does not mean if you buy/rent a building together and share a photocopier, all will be good (though don't we all wish). And this does not just apply to dance companies, opera companies, and the geographically conjoined. It applies to arts service organizations -- local arts agencies -- as well. If you are under-staffed, under-boarded (there's a whole other blog topic), and under-resourced (do I see any hands going up?), you have got to try.

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