Donor research into arts and cultural audiences

Donor research into arts and cultural audiences

By The Audience Agency


A summary of research into who gives to arts and culture, who has propensity to give and under what circumstances.


Fundraising is now a commonplace responsibility of many cultural practitioners, in part due to public funding cuts, new policy remits and a more competitive environment, but also due to a greater recognition of marketplace potential and a developing skills base within the sector to harness that potential. But while there is extensive data on why people engage with arts and cultural organisations, what they attend and their motivations for doing so through Audience Finder, there has been a paucity of knowledge on the behaviour of individuals that give to inform organisations’ donor development strategies.

In 2014, The Audience Agency undertook new research to address these gaps, linking intelligence about what we know about cultural audiences to help organisations understand better who gives, who has propensity to give, why and under what circumstances. Specifically this research focuses on the giving behaviours, attitudes and opinions of low-level donors and friends/members of arts, museums and heritage organisations. The starting point was the hypothesis that donors/members are core audiences, committed regular attenders and thus represent the best prospects for targeted donor ‘asks’. For many organisations their frequent audience is their greatest ‘asset’ and insights into the behaviours and motivations of these indviduals offer opportunities for generating additional income.

The views in this report are those of the authors and whilst they are based on evidence and provided in a clear and concise way, some elements are open to different interpretations and perspectives. We would like to thank consultants Alix Slater, Sarah Gee, Ruth Jarrett and Amanda Rigali of Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy, who offered their time and expertise as part of our Reference Group for this research and Baker-Richards, who undertook the Nottingham data-mining research. We are especially grateful to the arts and cultural organisations in the Spirit Nottingham cluster who contributed data and made the research possible.

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Resource type: Research | Published: 2016