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Engage donors by communicating your arts organization’s impact

By Nicole McGarrell
September 30, 2020

A woman near the camera uses a table to videotape musicians playing at a concert
Hugh Gladstone Photography

Picture the following scenario.

Your event is pleasingly packed. Showcased artists and performers are mingling with attendees, sharing stories of memorable moments that took place in rehearsals. Friends and family members of existing donors are now looking to make the arts an even more important part of their lives. Members of the media are eyeing unique details to highlight in their reviews. Everyone is enjoying themselves, excitedly sharing how they can’t wait until the next event. Your staff is dead tired yet elated at the same time, thanks to the tremendous energy and positive reception from everyone.

Fast forward a few months: It’s time to start marketing a similar event, and you’re trying to figure out the best promotional methods. You quickly see a problem—you have key figures and statistics, but you don’t have any quality photos, raving testimonials, or lively video footage to share with your audience to give them a taste of why they should attend. You shake your head because now you have to use stock photos and try to write a description that will (hopefully) paint the picture you want. 

Perhaps this has happened to you before—maybe even multiple times. If so, you need a plan to capture your organization’s experiences. It’s time to go beyond “just the facts,” such as “We had 100 attendees” or “We held 20 programs in one season.” You need to tell a story—of all that you have accomplished, the people you have touched, and the impact that you’ve had in your community. You need to convey the experience in a way that the person looking at your content should feel like they were there—even if they weren’t.

For example, my company, Sunny Day Marketing, works with a client who holds jazz performances every few months, featuring a rotation of talented jazz performers. For each event, we always make sure to take photos and videos, plus distribute feedback cards and flyers for upcoming shows. The photos and videos we share not only capture the passion of the performers but also the energy and excitement of the crowd. On our feedback cards, we ask for suggestions and often get short testimonials of how much people enjoyed their time there. Therefore, when it comes time to apply for grants or ask for donations, we’re able to share visuals and information that truly paint a picture of what donors will be investing in.

Here are a few tips to make sure you get and keep your donors’ attention and engagement:

  • Consistently promote the impact your arts and culture programs have in your community, especially during our current times of uncertainty 
  • Increase your visibility across a variety of channels, crafting your message accordingly
  • Share your program’s accomplishments and impact utilizing storytelling, targeting, and a variety of marketing tactics
  • Identify key elements of your organization that are beneficial for your constituents and important to your donors
  • Develop a customized marketing strategy to communicate your impact and share your story

Want to learn more?

Join me October 22 at Candid Learning’s webinar, “Arts Month: Communicating Your Arts Organization’s Impact to Engage Donors.” I’ll discuss the steps you need to take and provide more insight on how to efficiently and creatively do so. You’ll learn how to effectively set goals to communicate impact and use storytelling to highlight the accomplishments and impact your work is having in the community. Register for the webinar

Tags: Arts and culture; Fundraising