Remember that fundraising is simply getting people to be supportive of your arts organization. You do that through personal contact and by educating and involving them. The following are truths you should incorporate into whatever fundraising you do:

  1. Never ask a stranger for money
    • People give to people and because of people.
    • People who don’t know you or your arts group probably will not give.
  2. Cultivate before asking
    • Cultivate potential donors through special events, receptions, openings, opportunities to meet guest artists, ad hoc committees, advisory boards, memberships and membership benefits, support groups, etc.
    • Only ask for a gift after you have had a chance to inform and educate a prospective donor.
  3. Think of the needs of the donor
    • Your need for money will not motivate a donor to give; your provision of service to meet clear community needs will.
    • Find out what interests the donor has and think through how the donor will benefit by giving. A corporation, for example, may want visibility and an individual newly arrived in town may want opportunities to meet people.
  4. Ask for support for what you need
    • Be sure you are sticking to your fundraising plan and are raising money for the things you need, not creating new things that sound more enticing to potential donors.
    • You may need to practice and try different strategies for making the electric bill or the janitorial services sound enticing.
  5. Personalize your solicitation
    • People give more and are more likely to give when asked in person
    • People give more the more personalized the approach. Personal calls raise more than phone calls. Phone calls raise more than letters. Personalized letters and handwritten notes raise more than form letters.
  6. Raise money from the inside out
    • Start raising money by asking the board to give first.
    • Ask any fundraising volunteers to give before they ask others to give.
  7. Raise money from the top down
    • Ask your best large-gift prospects first.
    • Large gifts set the pace and build confidence, excitement, and momentum.
    • Seventy-five to 95 percent of contributions come from 10 to 15 percent of donors (usually fifty to one-hundred people).
  8. Make the case larger than the organization
    • they will benefit (through involvement, becoming “part of the family,” special privileges of membership);
    • their children will benefit (through educational opportunities, children’s programs);
    • their community will benefit (through economic development, community pride, enhanced quality of life); and
    • the gift is an “investment” in the future (for the reasons above).
  9. Show prospects how:

  10. Develop a strategy you can accomplish
    • Aim for success. Don’t overreach.
    • Fundraising success builds community, donor, and volunteer confidence so you can ask again.
    • Everyone wants to be associated with a winner.
  11. Treasure your volunteer leadership
    • Good leaders are rare.
    • Substantial money cannot be raised without good volunteer leaders.
    • Don’t take volunteer leaders for granted once they are involved.

Adapted from Arts Extension Services
Fundamentals of Local Arts Management