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Individual giving activity in the arts sector set for 'remarkable' rise

Individual giving activity in the arts sector set for 'remarkable' rise
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Individual giving activity in the arts sector set for 'remarkable' rise1

Fundraising | Vibeka Mair | 26 Apr 2012

Fundraising competition within the arts sector is about to enter a new phase unimagined up until this point, according to a new survey from Arts Quarter.

The survey, which explored the arts community’s reaction to the government’s 'philanthropy in the arts' agenda and future trends in arts fundraising, involved 371 arts organisations.

For those engaged in individual giving, Arts Quarter predicts rates of engagement will double year-on-year over the course of the next three years. It adds that this growth is being fuelled by organisations’ own analysis of funding streams:

“The development of individual giving as shown in our findings indicated less a set of aspirations,” it said, “but more on some very clear predictions based on in-house work undertaken by our respondents to look at truly viable levels of support that could be secured by individuals.”

Further, the survey finds significantly greater numbers of arts organisations see individual giving making up between 10 and 50 per cent of their overall fundraising mix.

Arts sector 'missing a trick'

However, while interest in individual giving among arts organisations is booming, the survey finds that activity in legacy fundraising is low.

Just over a quarter of the arts organisations surveyed (27 per cent) have received gifts in wills over the past three years. This correlates to low levels of fundraising activity, with just 28 per cent of respondents actively promoting the idea of legacy giving among their supporters.

For most of the organisations surveyed, this reluctance to promote legacy giving appears to be a conscious choice.

Some 21 per cent of organisations said it is “not appropriate for us to do so”. Other common obstacles to legacy fundraising are lack of capacity (32 per cent), more pressing priorities (17 per cent) and a perceived lack of expertise (10 per cent).

Art Quarter urges arts organisations to explore opportunities in the legacy market, warning that “fundraising competition within the arts is about to enter a phase, unimagined up until this point, as more organisations compete with each other and with other non-arts causes”.

It continues: “There is clear ambition as shown in these findings to grow individual giving as this has the potential to meet the immediate revenue needs of organisations but the sector continues to miss a key medium-to-long-term trick in not exploiting opportunities around legacies.

“If the arts does not grab this opportunity to develop its profile in legacy giving, others in the wider charitable sector will occupy that space.”

Legacy fundraising in the arts sector has been lagging behind other sectors for some time.

Catherine Clark
Head of Communications, Marketing & Development
Royal School of Church Music
26 Apr 2012

It is highly irresponsible to beat up arts groups for not pursuing legacies when the groups may be start-ups, at financial risk, still developing a mission, or (especially) unable to take care of their donors in the long-term. Legacies aren't easy cash: they are profoundly generous acts of faith and trust by people who hope their gift will be valued -- and of value -- after their deaths.

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