The impact of Covid-19 on fundraising, marketing and audience development

The impact of Covid-19 on fundraising, marketing and audience development

By Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy


This paper by Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy summarises research undertaken since March 2020 on the impact of Covid-19 on the Fundraising, Marketing and Audience Development strategies of Arts, Culture and Heritage organisations. It aims to bring together research into one place to support teams developing new strategies.

Summary of emerging themes

From these research reports, the following themes emerge in designing new strategy across fundraising, marketing and audience development:

1. Relevance and urgency

In the context of fundraising, arts and cultural organisations must position themselves as vital to supporting communities through the Covid-19 crisis, whether through artistic activity or repurposing resources to aid the frontline efforts. Showing supporters how your organisation is doing urgent work in the community is the foundation for leveraging support at this time.

2. Safety first

When it comes to marketing and audience development, messaging around safety measures and precautions will be as important as artistic messaging in coming months. Several studies on audience attitudes have shown that there are factors within an organisations power that will make audiences return more quickly, so it is important for safety measures to be established and clearly articulated to increase the pool of those happy to return to cultural venues.

3. Community is central

For all three disciplines, arts organisations’ role in their local community and local audiences will be the most important in seeing success going forwards. This is true in multiple ways – if desire to return to culture uplifts prior to audiences feeling comfortable on public transport, local arts venues may be chosen more than usual. As individuals continue to work from home, again, audiences may choose not to travel into city centres to see work when there is work being delivered locally. Using messaging that supports this localised perspective across fundraising and marketing will engage new donors and audiences.

4. Digital is more important than ever

Whilst this may not be a surprise, digital methods of fundraising, marketing and reaching audiences are more important than ever whilst Covid-19 restrictions are in place and will likely remain so long into the future. This has been evidenced by reports showing the increase in donations made through digital methods, the uptick in audiences accessing content digitally, and in those using digital methods for marketing and engagement.

5. Digital earned income models need development: contrary to (4), several pieces of research show that whilst significant numbers of the population are accessing culture digitally, less would be happy to pay for this engagement. As organisations and as a sector, work must be done to establish valuable digital offers with viable earned income models.

Download the full paper 

Browse by learning pillars
Increasing Engagement & Income
Resource type: Research | Published: 2021