Report on philanthropy in regional arts organisations published by government

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A government report examining how to increase philanthropy in regional cultural organisations recommends that arts chief executives should lead the fundraising effort rather than delegating this task to other employees.

Authored by Peter Philips, the chairman of Birmingham Opera Company, Philanthropy Beyond London says that executives, as well as artistic directors, should become fundraising ambassadors for their organisations.

They should also prioritise meeting with future donors, dedicating up to 50% of their time to this, it adds.

The report recommends: “CEOs should examine their own role and ensure that leadership of fundraising is a key priority of their time, and work in particular with their fundraising staff, chair and board as a team to develop fundraising strategy and its execution.”

It says: “They also have to take on the ambassador role which is crucial to supporting fundraising, including meeting with and cultivating significant donors. In the largest organisations these roles might take up to 50% of the chief executive’s time, and in smaller organisations, from feedback received, these commitments might require around a third of their time if satisfactory returns are to be achieved.”

“Where there is also an artistic director they should be prepared to give time to meeting certainly major donors since they best embody the cultural values and purpose of the organisation which a donor needs to be inspired by,” the report adds.

As part of the report’s 18 recommendations, the document says those at a management level and trustee board members of organisations should also be encouraged to donate money on a regular basis.

Customer data should also be made available by venues to touring or visiting companies, the report says, to help organisations request donations from audience members when they buy tickets at the venue.

Friends schemes that reward regular givers with benefits such as priority booking and invitation to special events are also recommended.

Culture secretary Maria Miller said: “Government funding has always had – and will continue to have – a huge role in supporting the arts.  But in these tough economic times it is more important than ever for arts bodies to develop the fundraising skills that mean they are not reliant on public funding alone.  I am very grateful to Peter Phillips for this helpful report, which contains recommendations designed to help arts bodies create a more sustainable funding base.”