We're lucky enough to have three very talented and resourceful people in our development department, but alas, many small and mid-range museums aren't quite so lucky. With at least 50% of the museums out there, the director is the chief financial officer, and the curator may be the volunteer coordinator, the education specialist, and the registrar. What this means for most museums is that staffers wear many hats, some which are flattering and fit perfectly, others of which just don't fit at all. So, for those of you out there sporting multiple hats, here's part one of our series on fund raising with development specialists Marissa Hoechstetter and Jennifer O'Keefe:
1. Create a development policy that all of your staffers understand and can reference at events or when talking to potential donors. This is a kind of collective agreement about what you can and can't do to woo your potential sponsors. For example, if it isn't feasible that your institution rename part of the building after a big donor, make sure that that prospect is never on the table. Anyone who is going to be soliciting funds should know that for a certain dollar amount, sponsors can get x,y, and z, and for a larger amount x,y,z, and q are possible.
2. Think outside the box and be creative about who you approach for money. This requires looking at all dimensions of your program/project. What does the program/project have to offer the sponsor? Are there less obvious elements of the program that might be of interest to donors?
3. Come up with a comprehensive list of people/businesses that you'd like to approach and refine this list with your colleagues. This is where personal relationships come into play. Does your colleague's husband know potential donor Mr. Smith? Perhaps, he might help pave the way and introduce you. A different approach is to invite potential sponsors/donors to events and exhibitions when you don't need anything from them. This just puts you on their radar screens and lets them know that you have a strong presence in the community.
2. What can you offer a donor/sponsor? Of course, the rules vary on this depending on institution, but the sponsor's name in print is always attractive--on brochures, banners, or in press releases. Perhaps the donor has a chance to speak at press previews or at the exhibition's opening reception. Start small. When you make an offer, chances are the donor/sponsor will come back with a counter offer that you can negotiate. Be as up front as possible and specify a dollar amount that you'd like the donor/sponsor to contribute.
Find this information helpful? Part two of the interview will appear next week.