A wind of change blowing through the Heritage and Arts Sector
The UK heritage and arts sector has long enjoyed significant public funding and the operating culture of museums and galleries across the UK is rooted in public sector values and attitudes. Fundraising (or rather development – because of course ‘fundraising’ is too dirty a word for these hallowed places of learning!) has mainly been seen as a means to deliver capital projects or exhibition sponsorship where the benefits to each party are clear and the gifts are not purely philanthropic.
However, a new wind of change has been blowing through the sector for some time, with more and more organisations starting to explore how they can take the tens of thousands of visitors they greet each year thorough a journey of engagement that goes beyond their two hour dwell time in the building. It is a journey that will change them – from dropping coins into an appropriately placed donation box, to becoming a donor who will respond to ongoing calls to action – in much the same way as a more traditional charity supporter. Yet this can be a herculean task as the prevalent culture is not conducive to making all those who need to play a part in the fundraising process either motivated to do so or indeed understanding why they should.
But it is a battle well fought and won as THINK’s experience with our clients in this sector testifies. As pressure mounts on government and local authorities to balance budgets and reduce the funding available to heritage and the arts, it is those museums and galleries who were early movers in the diversification of their fundraising bases who will reap the greatest rewards. Winning the hearts and minds of colleagues in pushing a purely philanthropic message can be painful, but could ultimately prove crucial for survival.