Connecting with the business community

Connecting with the business community

By Karen Malim, Dorchester Arts


Gain inspiration for building relationships with the business community in this case study on Dorchester Arts' 50/50 Business Membership Programme.

Fundraising for a small-scale organisation


Dorchester Arts had a long-standing membership scheme for individuals but nothing at a low entry level for the business community.

We had recently moved premises from a small 80-seat venue hidden away on the outskirts of the town to the Dorchester Corn Exchange. Situated on the high street we were now at the heart of the town and the Business Improvement District. It felt an opportune moment to start building links with the business community.

We wanted to keep the price point low to encourage small businesses to get involved with us and we wanted the membership to feel mutually beneficial.

50/50 Business Membership Programme

We pitched the membership as a 50/50 partnership with mutual benefits. Businesses were asked to make a small financial contribution to our work and promote our events to their customers and we would provide profile-raising benefits in return.

We made the fee just £50 a year to enable even the smallest businesses in Dorchester to join. On top of that £50, we encouraged those that could afford it to donate a further £50 to support our work.

We incorporated a 10% discount on brochure adverts into the package as an additional benefit and a way to encourage businesses to invest further.

Promoting 50/50

We launched the 50/50 membership through a series of networking meetings. Our Artistic Director Mark Tattersall spoke about the scheme and our belief that ‘where the arts thrive people and places do too’.

We promote it through our brochure and website and I visit businesses to talk about the membership.

Businesses can pay online or download a form and pay by cheque or BACS.

Download the case study to read more

Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2016