By Peter Lannoo • September 9, 2021

    What Performing Arts Nonprofits Can Do To Turn Attendance Into Support

    Arts organizations are looking forward to a “return to normalcy” more than most. With it return audiences with a renewed excitement about live performances. Capturing this excitement is like catching lightning in a bottle, but many organizations won’t have the procedures in place to meet this new moment.

    What Performing Arts Nonprofits Can Do To Turn Attendance Into Support

    There is a new spotlight on databases and moves management systems that can merge donor and ticketing data, and it’s a good start. But, of course, you have to start with data to take action on it. But the action part is what’s missing and maybe the most critical component.

    There’s a lot of data concerning event-based fundraising, but they have events multiple nights a week for organizations relying on ticket sales. People attending are raising their hands to be engaged, giving money in exchange for the promise of entertainment. But if the transaction ends there, there’s a tremendous opportunity lost. Performing arts audiences, on average, tend to be wealthier than average (in 2018-19, NYC’s broadway audience average household income fell around the 90th percentile for the area, and the National Endowment for the Arts reported a higher-income skew as well). And if you could add dozens or hundreds more donors to your donor pool in that percentile each weekend, you’d do it in a heartbeat. 

    Imagine this: every ticket sold has the opportunity to be a steward-able gift and a relationship to be built. A personalized note from a development team member, the organization’s board, or even a performer could be enough to compel a return to the venue. In this relationship, everyone has skin in the game and should act like it. The theater wants an audience, the audience wants entertainment, and the entertainer wants to perform, please existing fans, and create new ones.

    What stands in the way is capacity. Performing arts organizations often have small teams, which may have been reduced even further in previous months. How can they be expected to engage every single audience member personally? The point would be to prioritize. With ticketing data available, you can see who has attended multiple events and who is most familiar with your brand. Maybe you have wealth-screening data, maybe not, but even by sending out a couple of extra personal notes each day thanking them for attending, you can get a head start.

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    There is no shortcut to increased fundraising revenue. Nothing can replace the authenticity of personal engagement from a fundraiser in a fundamentally human profession like fundraising. That is why the onus is on the fundraisers to ensure that performance or show attendees receive a personal "thank you" for their support. But, of course, finding the time to extend communications outside a primary portfolio of known donors can be a daunting task.

    Nonprofits are turning to technological advances such as artificial intelligence (AI) to fuel fundraiser capacity beyond the standard portfolio. As a result, AI-enabled gift officers reach more donors up and down the giving pyramid without working longer hours or sacrificing the high-level service that their top donors have come to expect.

    See for yourself how your organization can transform what is possible in fundraising by integrating AI into your existing strategy. Find a time for your Gravyty demo today:

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