Tag Archives: fund raising

Announcing Audience Development Media – ADS and Rosebrook Classical partner

After several conversations with David Weuste of Rosebrook Classical and seeing the work that we both have accomplished, we realized that a partnership would be a fantastic addition for both of us.

Rosebrook Classical offers services that support artists and arts organizations in setting up anything and everything involved in social and digital media.  David has the know how and can teach you or give you hands on support to get you ready to attract your new 21st Century audience.

Audience Development Specialists (ADS)  helps artists and arts organizations build a quality audience.  We help define who you are so you can find the exact audience that will fit with your art.  We teach you how to attract, obtain, and keep your audiences as well as how to get your audiences more involved to help support you.

If you add Audience Development Specialists plus Rosebrook Classical, it equals Audience Development Media.  We give you the means to create the social and digital platforms you need to reach new audiences as well as the knowledge on how to build your audiences.

If you have questions on how to set up a social media or digital media platform and then what to do to engage your new audience and attract more audiences, contact us for more information about Audience Development Media.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists



“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”

~James Stewart

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Audience development – lessons to be learned

Today I came across this article:

Fund for the Arts ponders new ways, director in post-Allan Cowen era

It was a very open and honest article about mistakes that have been made and the consequences that resulted from these mistakes.  If arts organizations want to not only survive, but thrive, we need to point out these mistakes and begin a new direction for implementing the solutions that are as plain as day.  Yes, we need to implement, not just identify.

I have decided to scan the article mentioned above to highlight the mistakes and lessons to be learned:

Lesson 1

The Fund for the Arts began the post-Allan Cowen era Tuesday with calls for more transparency, an allocation process that involves more local organizations, and better communication among board members and with the community.

This was the very first thought from this article.  More transparency.  The public needs to know what is going on. What money is needed, where the money is going, how the money donated is working, how the organization is running – transparency will open the door to old and new supporters and a more efficiently run organization.  As far as the “allocation process that involves more local organization,” to me this means opening the doors to new partnerships and supporters as well.

Lesson 2

“We need to revisit the mission and breadth of the organization,” said James R. Allen, chairman and CEO of J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons Inc. and chairman of the fund’s 2011 campaign.

Every organization needs to take the time to reevaluate and revisit their mission and the essence of their organization.  Is the mission still true today?  Is it needed?  Do changes need to be made?  Is the organization still needed?  How can it function better?  The answers will give you a clue as to what is and isn’t working to date and what actions need to be taken next.

Lesson 3

“We need to reassess ourselves,” added Angela Leet, owner of Chamberlin Enterprises. “Do bigger and better things for our community.”

I would only assess this lesson if in Lesson 2 you found to still be a necessary organization with a necessary mission.  When you get to this point, it may not be a matter of doing bigger and better things for your community, although that is always something to strive for, but it may be a matter of simply doing things for your community.  Are you benefiting your community?  In what ways?  Can you document how you benefit your community?  Spend a little time not only reassessing, but defining and documenting.  Then, strive for more.

Lesson 4

“It can’t be all talk and no action,” said Murphy.

This is where many artists and arts organizations can get into trouble.  All talk and no action.  I see campaigns and marketing strategies to help the public to perceive your organization in a better light, but if you do not supply the actions to back these statements up, you are going to look even worse than where you started from.  Not only show your plans for the future, but highlight the steps that are taken to show that you mean business, that you are taking action.

Lesson 5

“Before we can move forward with the strategic plan, we really need to talk to the community as a whole — from the individual who gives $2 a pay period to the folks who write checks for thousands of dollars each year,” he said.

Communicating with all of your supporters is extremely important.  If you have not thanked all of your donors and communicated with them regularly, you will see a decline in support in the near future.  Before attempting to make future plans for more fundraising and finding more donors, you need to finish off the last cycle of fundraising by connecting with your current supporters.

Lesson 6

He said raising more money and being more inclusive will definitely be part of the board’s plans.“If we don’t make the pie bigger it doesn’t really help anybody much more,” he said. “The pie has to be bigger.”

This is the flip side of  Lesson 5.  Yes, do thank your existing donors and supporters, but you still need to look beyond existing to potential.  The pie needs to be bigger with more funds which means more donors and supporters.  You cannot keep relying on the same people year after year.  You will end up burning them out with no one to take their place.

The article did mention about other arts organizations that were deeply in debt, in bankruptcy or with plans of closing their doors.  I wish they had learned these lessons before it was too late.  I hope you do too!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Non-traditional fundraising ideas for audience development

Part of audience development is building relationships to the point that your patrons will support your art and/or organization.  You want to have people in your individual community that will donate and sponsor your art.  In the past few years, I have seen some very good examples of fundraising ideas that not only builds relationships, but are creative options and add visible awareness for the arts.

Audience development benefits may include: audience attendance, relationships building with new and current patrons, audience engagement, audience participation, audience support through donations, visible arts advocacy.

Non-traditional fund raising ideas:

  • Micro-grants dinners.  I was alerted to these events a few years ago, but they are starting to catch on now.  This idea creates an invitation to dinner with a fee of $5 to $10.  The group is served a hearty simple meal and during the dinner, 4-5 pre-selected artists make a presentation about their future arts project.  The attendees get to vote on these projects, and the winning artist receives the collected fee

Here are a few examples:

Dearborn SOUP Brings Micro-Grants to Local Artists

BEAN Dinner & Micro-Grants-The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

  • Walk-a-thons or bike rides.  This type of fundraiser is traditional for the social cause organizations, but I rarely see this form of fundraiser   for arts organizations, until this year.  With this event, there is the ability to build relationships with people during the event and have your patrons physically show their support for the arts, meaning there is an extra value of visible arts advocacy.  Most of the time there is a fee to register and they then have a set goal of pledges to meet so they can participate in the event.  If a group of arts organizations were to get together, this event could really be very successful!

Here are a few examples:

Art & Sole: Walk a Mile in My Shoes – This was not an actual fundraiser, but could easily be turned into one.

Dart for the Arts 5K Run/Walk& Family Fit Walk

  • Bid on artists.  This is an auction that is strictly for auctioning off commissions from artists. The highest bidder for the artist will get a commissioned work by the artist.  The artist may volunteer their time or part of the bid would go to pay for the artist while the arts organizations keeps the balance.  Artist can be termed loosely.  It could be a commission for a music composition that is auctioned off and the bidder will get their name on the work, or it could be a new play that is auctioned.  The bidder will have some say in the type of work created.

Here are a few examples:

A Custom Commission for the Highest Bidder

Commission your own work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky!

  • Fundraisers for other organizations.  This is an interesting opportunity for both you and a social cause organization.  Why not have the option of smaller, intimate events be a fundraiser for other organizations.  They purchase a night of your art event for their supporters to purchase tickets at a good rate per ticket.  You keep the purchase money, and they are able to sell tickets to the event at a slight mark-up to raise money for their organization.   Or, you could sell them a group ticket rate to your regularly scheduled events at a lower cost with a minimum purchase amount set and they can resell the tickets at a mark-up to raise funds.  What a win-win collaborative situation!

Here are a few examples:

The Detroit Repertory Theatre fundraising program

Fundraising through the BSO is easy!

  • Sponsor an artist programs.  Yes, some of you may already have this option as a way to raise funds, but do you go the extra mile and allow the donor to actually meet with the artist and form a relationship?  I highly recommend that if your artists are willing that adding a benefit of “meet the artist for lunch/dinner” or at least a social event for all the artists and sponsors to meet with each other will help this program to thrive.

Here are a few examples:

Colorado Music Festival Artist Fund

Opera Company at Middlebury Adopt an Artist Program

  • Audience choice program.  This is an auction item where the audience members bid to create a performance program or art event of their choice (within reason) for your season.  You can supply a list of options for them to choose from.  Many audience members have their own idea of what a perfect program or art event would be.  They will be thrilled to have their program become a reality!

I did not find an example of this one.  If you have heard of an artist or organization that has this fund-raising option, please comment below.

I will continue to be on the look out for interesting and innovative fundraising ideas.  If you know of any, I would love for you to share in the comments section.  Fundraising does not have to be same ol’ same ol’.  We are creative artists after all, and our fundraisers should be creative too.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Contact us for more information!


Filed under arts management, fund raising, Fundraising

Guest blog post: Top 10 Donor Don’ts to consider for audience development

Today I am happy to present our first guest blogger, David Zoltan.  After seeing a few articles about treating your donors well, I thought it was time to chime in with a blog entry to highlight what not to do when relating with your donors.  Please enjoy the following blog, our first in many guest blog posts to come.

Top 10 Donor Don’ts to consider for audience development
by David Zoltan

There are many ways to tell donors you don’t care. It’s the little things that get over looked or that annoy them or that just lack that human touch that can drive a donor screaming from your organization. It’s hard to get a new donor, so keep the ones you get by treating them well.  A quick list of Donor DON’Ts for you follows.  It’s not exhaustive by any means, and I strongly encourage more Donor DON’Ts in the comments.  Let’s learn from each other and DO it right.

1. DON’T wait to say thanks. Send a personalized note within just a couple days of receiving a gift. The sooner the better. Donors notice delays.

2. DON’T contact your donors only when you want to ask them for money. Take time to tell them what their money is going for. Give them access to behind the scenes information. Give them opportunities to become involved in your activities. Simply give them gratitude.

3. DON’T forget to thank your donors more than you solicit them. Thank yous come in all shapes and sizes. An email with a note from the artistic director. An artist making a donor-exclusive video talking about the next show. Find big and small ways to say thanks uniquely and memorably.

4. DON’T treat a lower level donor to any less courtesy than a high level donor. Small donors become bigger donors over time if you treat them well. Even if they don’t, what’s small for you, might be big to them. No one wants to feel unappreciated, and these things do get noticed.

5. DON’T pressure a donor to give in a way that they don’t feel comfortable. Some donors are “high information” donors and need to read more about you. Some don’t like giving over the phone. Some only give face to face. Listen to what your potential donor is asking for, and become the facilitator for their gift in any and every way you can.

6. DON’T treat your donors like cheap billboards for your organization. Giving mugs and t-shirts and other things that let you plaster your logo all over donors cheapens their gift by definition. They gave $50, you give them a t-shirt, and that $50 gift only becomes worth that t-shirt. If you hope that they’ll show your support for you, sell them the t-shirt, and give them what donors really want for their gift. Access.

7. DON’T assume that your donors know what makes you different than everyone else doing the same kind of art. Always make your ask about the specific work you do. Generic theatre motivates few people. But if you’ve built your mission correctly, then you have a deeper artistic meaning that you’re aiming for. Explain that well, differentiate yourself, and make their gift concrete in some way in relation to that artistic mission.

8. DON’T use an impersonal form of greeting in your letters. Mail merge isn’t difficult these days. If you don’t know how to use it, get an intern who does. But “Dear Friend” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

9. DON’T throw ala carte events. There’s a big difference between having a fun silent auction with chances to win great prizes that also add to your event’s income and charging people for food or drinks when they get there. That’s just tacky, and it’s one way to make your donors feel like ATM machines instead of valuable friends of the organization.

10. DON’T keep your donors at arm’s length. Invite them to your offices, up on stage, backstage in the dressing rooms, part of the action. Never forget that while you might see these things all the time, they’re part of a different world for your donors that they feel excited to be a part of, which is why they likely give to you in the first place.

David Zoltan is the Founder of ArtsAppeal.org and a regular contributor for the Social Media Club and 2amt blogs.
Follow David on Twitter: @ArtsAppeal

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Big announcement for Audience Development for the Arts!

I have been missing in action the past week in order to work on a project near and dear to my heart.  I have been seeing a need for an audience development for the arts conference,  a place to actually learn a few of the ins and outs while being able to exchange ideas with one’s peers.  I have been to many other events where people end up saying “We really need to learn about audience development.”  Now instead of talking about the need, here is your chance to learn!

Today I am unveiling the Audience Development for the Arts Symposium which will take place on May 14th in Chicago at the Catalyst Ranch.  From 8am – 4:30pm, there is a full day of quick presentations with Q&A sessions, and an hour for talking amongst your peers to brainstorm even more.  We have speakers from across the country with varying backgrounds and involvement in the arts.  We have people from the 4 main disciplines – music, dance, theatre and visual art.

On Friday and Saturday night, we will be inviting you to a fun event.  Chicago is fantastic for the arts as you probably know already.

I hope you will consider joining us at the Audience Development for the Arts Symposium for our inaugural year.  All the details are waiting for you on the website.

For future blogs, tomorrow we will be having our first guest blogger.  On Friday, I will be unleashing my blog about out of the box fund raisers, a request from my twitter friends.

Thank you and have a wonderful rest of your day!


Audience Development Specialists

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Audience development and your team

I may have blogged about this before, but due to all the arts cuts scares and conversations, I felt that this topic needed to be resurrected.  Audience development can be the answer for obtaining support in challenging times.  In order for audience development to work its magic, you need these ingredients:

  1. A good plan
  2. The time and effort to carry out the plan
  3. The commitment to stick with the plan (tweaking as needed)
  4. A good team to carry out the plan

All of these components are important, and one of the most important ingredients is your team.  Audience development is a team effort.  This means that you absolutely need a team or group of people to help carry out the plan.  Audience development will not work unless you have this team of people.  During my trial and error days, this became quite obvious when working with organizations and artists that lacked people support.

You now know that you need a team.  Who are the people that would be good for your team?

  1. Staff
  2. Board Members
  3. Patrons
  4. Volunteers
  5. Artists
  6. Dedicated Media
  7. Donors
  8. Sponsors and Business Partners
  9. Groups

As your support grows, this list of team members will grow too. Now what types of people do you need on your team?

  1. Dedicated and passionate people
  2. People that will put in time and effort – people that are not afraid to do the work it takes
  3. People that enjoy spreading the word
  4. People that are not afraid and are good at asking for monetary support
  5. People that enjoy volunteering
  6. People that are connected to your art and arts organization

If you are lacking in any of the above, it is time to seek out new team members.  Audience development needs to not only have a team, but the right members on the team to support your art.

The main reason I focused on this topic for today is because I am seeing artists and arts organizations that lack the proper team support.  Without the proper team support, most artists and organizations will lack audience and monetary support.  In times of arts cuts, we need audience development more than ever, and we all need a strong and dedicated team to support our efforts.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Audience development and quality

Today I would like to focus on quality and how it affects audience development for the arts.  I will not name names, but over the weekend I did partake in a few art events in my town.  The marketing for these events grabbed my attention.  I also happened to be personally invited to one of the events.

At these events, I was extremely disappointed.  Despite the brilliant marketing spin and the positive outreach efforts, the quality of the productions were lacking.  For a regular arts patron, aside from maybe not wanting to see another one of their productions, I will still go to arts events.  But consider how bland productions could actually hurt the arts in general if it was a non-regular patron that had the same opinions.  The lack of quality, especially since the marketing spin promised quality, made me feel lied to.  Would a non-regular patron want to try another arts event? Of course the arts are subjective, but most people would be able to establish something superb from something ordinary or less than.

The arts world is changing.  We used to look to benchmark organizations and artists to supply us with art, but now we are in a world of self-proclaimed artists.  Some may be kidding themselves as to whether or not their art is quality.  I agree with their right to create art, but how does it affect the arts world in general if they claim they are professional or quality, when maybe they are not?

I blogged about saturation a while back.  The saturation point can be taken one step further when we consider that we may have become saturated with self-proclaimed artists and organizations.  Again, everyone should have the right to create art, but perhaps not everyone should be considered quality art.  How does this saturation of sub par artistry affect our funding system too?  Some funding sources do not have a component to decipher quality so the quality artists can be left underfunded due to funds being distributed to the sub par artists and organizations.

Have you ever wondered how an “artist” may think they are all that and a bag of chips when they really are not?  I liken it to the American Idol phenomena.  People do not realize what they are until they are in front of an audience that can give honest feedback.  There were people auditioning on American Idol (or insert other audition shows here) that had a concept in their mind that they could sing, but the auditions proved that they couldn’t.

Maybe there needs to be more scrutiny when it comes to allowing an artist or organization to dub themselves with the terms “professional” or “quality” in their marketing, funding and outreach efforts.  Right now we do not have a system or seal of approval in a way similar to how we stamp “organic” on food products.  There are no guidelines established.  And, can we establish guidelines for the arts when taste is subjective?  What would these guidelines look like?

With the arts facing the saturation point, we do need to focus on quality instead of quantity.  The amount of artists and organizations can hinder obtaining an audience base necessary for the support we seek.  There simply may not be enough audience to go around.  This is the problem I am seeing in my area, and I suspect it is a concern around the world.  If you have too many people claiming to be artists or arts organizations, it makes it that much more difficult for the quality artists and organizations to gain the right amount of support.

To date, I do not have the ultimate solution to this challenge.  I understand that if a production is not quality, people will not want to support further productions.  However, these artists and organizations, instead of bowing out like we may think they would after some time, they instead keep plugging along.  Their productions can ruin it for the rest of the arts world.  The quality productions will continue to get less funding due to the saturation.  A patron could turn themselves off to all arts offerings after being snookered one too many times.

Less funding and less audience due to this situation can force quality artists and organizations to fold.  If we do not start focusing on quality in some fashion, our arts world may continue to have audience development challenges.   My one hope in this consideration is the fact that quality arts will eventually overcome the obstacles due to their quality.  I sure hope so.

What do you think?

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
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“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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