Whether your theatre is large or small, donations are critical to operating a successful performing arts venue. There are many ways to optimize donation campaigns. The hardest part is deciding how. From our experience working with Members on their donation campaigns, we’ve put together some best practices on how to build and retain your donor base.
1. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
The easiest way to dissuade a patron from making a donation is to complicate the donating process, so make it easy to find and make it simple to do. Don’t make potential donors hunt for a “Donate Here” button on your website. Have it readily available on the homepage or in a “Support” tab on the toolbar. Also, simplify the donation process by cutting down the required fields in the donations form. Make the process quick and easy. The less clicks, the more likely patrons will finish the donation process!
2. Develop a tiered giving system.
Committing to being a donor is a big step. The best thing to do with folks on the fence is to take baby steps. For some patrons, simply suggesting donation amounts is all it takes for your patrons to begin giving. A low tier can move those on the fence to becoming donors.
A tiered giving system is a great way to track the size of donations you’ll be receiving and also gives your donors a suggested next step. Start by looking at how much your donors are currently giving and offer suggestions on how they could reach the next “tier” of giving. Add benefits at each level to encourage donors to give more.
3. Turn your donors club into a brand advocacy group.
Patrons willing to donate to your venue are actively engaging with you and your brand. Maintain that loyalty by establishing a branded donors club, one where people feel less like a regular community do-gooder and more like a brand advocate. Associate the branding with exclusivity and special recognition, and people will feel a personal attachment to being a member in your donors club. Once the club is established, you can show ways of appreciation to your donors, like organizing donor dinners, facilitating meet and greets with performers, or giving Donor VIP parking at the venue. Integrate these benefits into your tiered giving system and slowly start to move your occasional donors up to all-star brand advocates.
4. Keep in touch.
Whatever you can do to keep in touch with your donors will help in building a relationship with them. You can do this by sending out a monthly VIP newsletter with promotions, information about upcoming events, etc. It not only reminds your donors that you exist, but that they qualify for exclusive deals or rewards from your venue. These emails can also be an opportunity to garner referrals from other prospective donors.
When crafting a long term plan for a donations program, be sure to keep in mind the main goal: turning donors into advocates. Whether it’s through a tiered giving system, a donors club, or special recognition, make it simple and show donors the benefits that come with being an advocate.
We hope these tips help you bolster your donation program, and we’d love to hear from you about how you’ve used them!