Covid-19 and Philanthropy – Giving in 2020.
A new study of performing arts organisations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. by TRG Arts and U.K. arts data specialists Purple Seven shows a decline in philanthropic revenue in 2020 on both sides of the Atlantic. David Brownlee and Eric Nelson examine the findings.
Despite a 13% decrease in revenue in North America and a 32% decrease in the U.K., there is a more diverse picture behind the aggregate figures.
The study, COVID-19 and Philanthropy – Giving in 2020, reveals that in the North American cohort almost half of organizations (49%) increased their gift revenue in 2020 and almost three-quarters (74%) received more gifts than they had in 2019.
Organizations who raised less funding from individuals in 2019 were more likely to increase their philanthropic income in 2020, and there was a growth in the number of smaller gifts in both markets, correlating with reports of revenue for cancelled shows being converted to gifts rather than refunds.
Arts fundraisers have never faced a year like 2020. Many organizations have risen to the challenges and successfully engaged current and past patrons to continue to provide support, even when they have nothing on their stages or in their museums. As the sector recovers from the impact of the pandemic, organizations need to show their appreciation both to long-time supporters and to the many thousands who made a philanthropic contribution for the first time in 2020.
Smart cultural organizations are thinking about the next 10 years and those who showed their support by making a contribution rather than taking a refund for a cancelled performance or exhibit. If in 2030 we have a new cohort of major donors who began their philanthropic relationship thanks to the pandemic, the sector will have been strengthened mightily. Jill Robinson, CEO, TRG Arts
It’s not just the scale of giving that’s different in North America compared to the U.K. Most U.K. organizations rely on a mixture of small gift top-ups when purchasing tickets or one-off support for particular appeals. In 2020, many organizations mounted ‘crisis’ campaigns, and some were relatively successful. A strategy of repeatedly proclaiming a crisis to drive fundraising will inevitably lead to diminishing returns.
The best U.K. arts fundraisers take the same approach as their North American colleagues in focusing on long term relationships where supporters understand and value what the organization is delivering for its community.
Executive Summary – Key Findings
• Data from 141 CRMs of arts venues show very diverse results for the year.
• Aggregate gift revenue received in 2020 was down on both sides of the Atlantic, although the number of gifts was up in North America.
• Organizations who raised less funding from individuals in 2019 were more likely to increase their philanthropic income in 2020.
• There was growth in the number of smaller gifts in both markets, correlating with reports of revenue for cancelled shows being converted to gifts rather than refunds.
• Compared to 2019, organizations in both territories have been more reliant on re-engaging past patrons who have not purchased tickets or given for at least 18 months.
• Compared to 2019, the number of gifts received rose by 15% in 2020 but aggregate gift revenue was down 13%.
• These aggregate figures mask a diversity in performance across the North American cohort. Almost half of organizations (49%) increased their gift revenue in 2020 and almost three-quarters (74%) received more gifts than they had in 2019.
• The 2020 number of gifts given per month was higher than 2019 in every month until August. Gift numbers fell in September, October and November, but increased in December.
• There was a fall in aggregate revenue coming from the biggest gifts in 2020. Most of the overall 13% drop in aggregate revenue was due to a reduction of almost $43 million in gifts of over $1 million.
• Compared to 2019, number of gifts were down 27% and gift revenues down 32%.
• While there was a fall in the biggest and smallest gifts, the numbers of gifts between £15 and £500 rose by 147%.
• After a poor summer, gift numbers and gift revenue picked up towards the end of the year, with more gifts received in December than any other month in the study period.
• Organizations who raised less than £50,000 in 2019 were far more likely to increase gift revenues in 2020.
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