Arts and cultural institutions are going through a critical shift. Arts Council cuts of 30% and a reduction in funding of £350m over the next three years have left more than 100 organisations with their future threatened – the winter of discontent paints a bleak landscape.
But hope is budding as spring takes hold – new figures from Arts and Business highlight a growth of 6.4% in individual giving to £382.2m last year, up from £359m in 2009/10.
The task for institutions now is to grab hold of this growth in individual giving and build its momentum. The key to doing this: digital fundraising utilising mobiles, tablets and new technological platforms.
Following our report on digital philanthropy, we at Panlogic believe the time is right to develop a nationally recognised digital funding platform. The report highlighted the main reasons for shortfalls in funding from individuals to arts institutions, with the following key recommendations:
• The donation process needs to ‘tick the boxes’ from start to finish, including public perception of the institution, personal motivation to donate and the nature and simplicity of the campaign
• Technology needs to be an enabler, not a hindrance
• Organisations need fresh thinking about who they could appeal to and how best they should do this. The whole process needs to be more inclusive
A national, digital funding platform could transform how, when and where we give to our cultural institutions. Such a solution would be available at all of our cultural institutions providing an instantly recognisable and ubiquitous means for everyone to participate in supporting our culture.
A key finding from the research was the importance of providing a means of giving that is immediate, easy to use and accessible. Moreover it needs to be accessible when emotion is heightened by the art form (not just in the Royal Academy foyer but then in front of the Hockney too) and mobile giving provides this opportunity – in effect digitising the Perspex box at a time when ever more people carry ever less cash.
This is supported by another trend: more donations but of smaller amounts (70% of donations come in under £100). This growth in individual giving is music not only to the ears of the sector but also to a government looking at long-tail giving as the answer to funding cuts.
Note Jeremy Hunt’s comment on the appointment of a new chair of Arts Council England.
The successful candidate, he said, would have to increase “the amount of private giving to the arts and encourage the sector to make the most of technological changes.”
But how do small, cash-strapped and resource hungry organisations develop digital funding solutions? And does a range of individual solutions yield the highest returns?
There are demographic shifts that coincide with this thinking. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, online giving has grown by 17% since 2009/10 and text donations will reach £96m in 2014, the channel of choice for giving for the 25-45 age group. Research by the Pew institute in America has found that 9% of American adults have donated through their mobile phone – closer to home, more than 17% of donations to Red Nose Day 2011 came from mobile giving.
But key questions remain: how will a national platform be self-funding? Will people actually give and if so, how much and how often? What would motivate them to donate more?
To help answer these questions the process has moved into a public research stage to gauge the public mood surrounding giving. Those who want to see a robust, resilient and innovative sector survive and develop in these straightened times can add their voice here.
With an Olympics on our doorstep and a Jubilee celebration bringing neighbourhoods together, this is a time to break down preconceived barriers and welcome new friends into our lives. It is time for the arts to join this revolution and open themselves up to all.