Commentary: How to capitalize on your nonprofit's year-end fundraising momentum

Sally Heaven of Blackbaud on the npENGAGE blog, 1/9/13

If your nonprofit organization is like most, you receive nearly half of your annual online donations in the last two months of the year. Now that we're starting a new year, the question is: how do you capitalize on this momentum? Here are two tips to get you going in the new year:

Capture Email Addresses for your Offline Donors: More and more supporters are open to engaging with you online, even if they choose to donate offline. Capturing email addresses will allow you to implement a multi-channel approach. Use any opportunity you can to capture email addresses from your supporters such as at events, direct mail, and telemarketing. [Offer] specific calls-to-action that are only available online, such as a premium or "early-bird" registration for an event. You can also promote the reasons to visit your website in your offline communications, such as user-contributed photos and stories or the ability to easily update a mailing address.

Promote a Sustainer or Pledge Giving Program: The donors who supported you last year likely had to be selective about their charities. It's likely these donors may be even more inclined to be loyal to you and would be open to recurring donations or paying their annual donation amount throughout the year. Sustaining and pledge donors typically renew at rates 10-20% higher than single-gift donors.

We've put together a guide of 10 simple steps, including these two, that can make a big difference in your strategies in the new year. Pick a few you can put in place today, and think of them as resolutions to ensure the growth of your supporter base in 2013.


Commentary: Should your nonprofit theater try to capitalize on a hit show?

Chad Bauman of Arena Stage, on his blog Arts Marketing, 12/16/12

So, you have a hit on your hands, and you know you have to strike while the iron is hot. Before announcing an extension, here are things you should consider: 

Feasibility. Is it even possible to extend your run? Oftentimes subscription houses have another show coming in right on the heels of the previous one, and there is no room to extend. Are your actors available for an extension? And if some actors are unavailable, can you continue a run with replacement actors?  

Extension Costs. How much will it cost per week to run an extension? Make sure that you include all relevant costs, such as: casting and put-in costs for replacement actors; any increases in fees due to extension clauses; marketing and press fees to promote an extension; applicable overhead costs; increases in royalty payments.

Current Sales and Inventory. How many tickets did you sell in the previous couple of weeks and how much in single ticket revenue did you realize? Even if you are currently achieving more revenue in single ticket sales than what you are projecting as your weekly operating costs for an extension, it may not be a good decision to extend.

Burn and Sell Ratio. Are you realizing more in single ticket revenue for future performances than you are burning off each week? If you are, it is a good indication an extension is viable. 

Time to Sell. Do you have adequate lead time to sell the extension? If you have relatively low weekly operating costs, the financial risk may be low, but you don't want to announce an extension only to play to 30-40% paid capacity because you didn't have enough time to adequately promote it.  

Other random thoughts...

Extending can ensure an influx of new patrons, which can lead to an abundance of excellent leads to develop new multi-show ticket buyers. That said, scarcity can also be a very valuable marketing tool. Nothing encourages early ticket buying behavior better than sold out houses.

Extensions are not always extensions. Some theaters have developed business models which involve "extending" almost every show they produce. Most "added performances" are likely planned as part of their original run, but tickets are held off sale until a predetermined date. It's quite a clever marketing strategy until you go to the well too many times, and the public starts to understand what's going on.


Commentary: How the art market is capitalizing on dramatic globalization

Julia Halperin, Art+Auction magazine, 12/18/12

Over the last five years investors have funneled tens of millions of dollars into fledgling websites that help users buy, sell, borrow, and learn about art online. Backers range from flush art world figures like Dasha Zhukova to successful venture capitalists such as Jack Dorsey, a founder of Twitter, and Peter Thiel, a former PayPal executive. But can a cultural sector that typically relies on exclusivity, personal contact, and (often) opacity make an effective transition to the web? And, if it can, will these new websites find a way to monetize their services swiftly enough to give investors a good return? A profusion of selling sites appeared during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, but only a few are still around. Could history repeat itself? Founders and funders of today's start-ups insist that the time is right for the art business to expand online. "Think about the size of the art market and the fact that it's growing disproportionately in emerging markets where people are less connected to major art world hubs," says Sebastian Cwilich, the COO of, an online selling site and image repository that officially launched in October. Cwilich notes that the average distance between a buyer and seller on its site is 2,398 miles. The website VIP Art measured a staggering increase in visitors from emerging markets at its VIP 2.0 fair this past February, including a 409% increase in visitors from Turkey and a 278% increase in those from India.


Commentary: Hollywood should capitalize on the demand shown by film piracy

David Kravets, Wired magazine, 1/8/13

When the nominations for the Academy Awards are announced Thursday, untold millions of people already will have watched some of the leading flicks. But many didn't view [them] on a theater's big screen, even though the movies haven't been released on DVD. That's because many blockbusters have leaked to BitTorrent pirate sites, and the likely seeders are Academy members. The Academy usually sends out digital or disc screener editions in December to many of its roughly 6,000 voting members. Many of the hot, in-theater-only flicks are now available online and they're tagged "DVDSCR." The development highlights an unspoken irony in the file-sharing world. While the Hollywood studios loudly complain that pirate sites are dooming their businesses and demand Congress do something about it, the top flicks appearing on pirate sites often are seeded by insiders. It happens year after year, despite screener copies now being loaded with watermarks. Leaked screeners [include] Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, racking up 500,000 downloads the first day it was seeded. The Hobbit racked up more than 2 million downloads. Hollywood sticks to a pre-digital business model and generally prevents people from legitimately buying movies to watch at home if the same pictures are playing in theaters. Yet as millions of copies of in-theater movies are downloaded for free over BitTorrent, the studios decry pirates as the scourge of the earth while failing to recognize that Hollywood could capitalize on a market feverishly hungry for the newest flick.

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