On April 2, we held a webinar with Alex Tom of UNHCR, Claire Kerr of Care2 and our own Chris Carter. We were sent some questions during the webinar that we couldn’t address in the allotted time. These questions and Candela's answers are below. If you were not able to attend the webinar, you can watch the recording here.
What are your thoughts on sending an urgent appeal now, and then going back out again to the same base on Giving Tuesday on May 5th? With proper stewardship in between, could /should orgs be trying to do both? Should the asks be different?
Yes, definitely ask both times, as part of a larger campaign. Ideally, you have a current campaign that you can integrate a Giving Tuesday ask into, and adjust the call to action for Giving Tuesday accordingly.
The following two questions were from the same person.
I work for a theatre company that has been hard-hit by the health crisis. We have had to cancel the whole season since March 13, a total of 60 performances (including two small fundraisers), and refund tickets. We are thinking of a special donation campaign to help offset all the losses to make sure we can have a decent 2020/2021 season. Is this enough argument for a campaign? I know there are other causes out there. How should we go about it? We are not stopping our individual and corporate donation campaigns so my idea is for this special campaign to go to individuals who have given already, but not in the last three months, as well as to ticket buyers who are not already donors. Is that a good idea? And when should we solicit?
Absolutely, the arts still need support during the current times, to ensure the organizations we love are still going strong well into the future. People who bought tickets and made donations did so because they believe in theatre, and this goes for everyone: people who cared about animals or the environment or education or theatre before COVID-19 will still care about it now. Of course, ensure the ask is empathetic and compassionate—not that we need your support more than a hospital or a food bank, but that the arts are still important and still need your support. However, if you would like to make a stronger argument, you can include messaging about the importance of theatre for vital communities, education, and how we are all relying on the arts during social distancing.
If you have supporters who are not already being asked as part of your current fundraising, you should absolutely include them. But again, this ideally would be part of a larger campaign going to everybody, regardless of whether and how recently they’ve given, with messaging segmented as needed.
I would also like the presenter to please touch on virtual events. I would like to do one but know that it will have to be a brand-new event and perhaps not for the same audience that comes to our fundraisers. Would like to have some ideas: what are other events that have been successful? How to structure in terms of length, prices, revenue streams, etc. What could be good auction prizes now that the entertainment and travel industry are on pause and corporations are having a tough time?
As a theatre, you have a ton of opportunities to be creative with your fundraising. You could certainly have a live auction or ‘gala’, perhaps hosted by actors from the company, auctioning things people can still use during social distancing, like delivery from an upscale restaurant, or something theatre-related (more on that below). There are other opportunities now as well: major donors, corporate sponsors or foundations could sponsor a virtual performance (scene reading, work shopping a new piece, Q&A with actors/directors/etc?) to which tickets could be sold or access granted with a donation.
These are unprecedented times, and your supporters may have varying dollar amounts in mind depending on the price of tickets and your typical supporter levels. However, due to this, and the fact that many people are home and looking for things to do, this means it’s a great time to try new things and do some testing. For example, you could grant different perks for different ticket/donation levels, like getting early access to recordings, submitting questions to performers during a live stream, or requesting a specific monologue or scene be read. If you found one level was most popular and one level didn’t work, re-work the virtual event, adjust the dollar amounts, adjust the perks, and try again.