Tuesday 9 February 2010

Mega and micro philanthropy

Two stories on supporting arts institutions - at either end of the spectrum - got me thinking today.

A New York Times profile of Eli Broad characterises his support of LA arts and educational institutions as "aggressive philanthropy" conducted with a "business-focused method". It contains this interesting quote:

“Eli is not the problem,” said Ann Philbin, the director of the Hammer Museum, who sparred with Mr. Broad when he sat on and eventually resigned from that museum’s board. “The problem is that we don’t have enough Elis in Los Angeles to balance out his generosity and the power of his influence.”

Meanwhile a post on Jen Bekman's 20x200 website describes the collaboration with artist Valerie Hegarty to sell prints to benefit the Brooklyn Museum. In a nice quid pro quo, all members of the Museum's entry-level 1stFans membership programme who renewed their membership before a certain date get a copy of the print; and everyone that buys a copy of the print (the largest edition is already gone) get a free membership. In his own post about the collaboration, Brooklyn Museum's membership manager Will Cary notes

I grow more convinced every day that unique partnerships and creative incentives are the key to acquiring and retaining members.

A lot of effort goes into both of the above - the wooing and management of single, mega donors and multiple micro donors. I think that, in the American context especially, both are needed. Both pose their own set of challenges around rewarding and retaining givers. What I think Americans do particularly well is innovate and adapt to make this happen.

New Zealand fundraising/membership programmes seem to have remained pretty static for at least the last decade. At the end of last year I saw an ad (perhaps in an Art+Object catalogue?) announcing a new kind of supporters group for the Auckland Triennial, which seemed like a small new move, at least in targeting a specific demographic. If I remember correctly you got an invite to a cocktail function and a Karen Walker t-shirt. I can't for the life of me find any trace of this online, including the Triennial site - anyone got anything?

No comments: