SMU DataArts today released its latest report on national fundraising trends in the arts and cultural sector. The report finds that organizations are spending less on fundraising, and getting less in return per dollar spent. Overall, the amount of contributed revenue generated from every dollar of fundraising expenses went down from $8.80 in 2014 to $8.56 in 2017.
The study also found a vital source of contributions for organizations was the individual donor. Individual donor contributions increased in the past four years. Average individual contributions rose each year – donors were fewer, but they gave more. This could be explained by the average organization allocating 62.4 percent of fundraising expenses to staff, up from 54.4 percent, which allows for further relationship development with donors.
“Our analysis has shown that when organizations invest more in fundraising, they raise more money, indicating that smart investment is key,” said Dr. Zannie Voss, director of SMU DataArts and professor of arts management in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business. “We encourage organizations to use this report as an effective management tool to set goals, make strategic decisions and contextualize their performance with key stakeholders.”
Findings by Sources of Contributions:
Findings by Sector:
Findings by Organization Size:
Findings by Geographic Location:
Recommendations for next steps are provided for report readers and for arts organizations who want to grow. Dr. Voss suggests they “consider an audacious project in the future and galvanize people around it now.” She said, “The ability to generate excitement among donors now for a project in a future year – multi-year planning – looks to be a key to growth.”
About the SMU DataArts Fundraising Report
The SMU DataArts Fundraising Report, available online, is the only report to examine fundraising trends in the arts and cultural field by sector, organization size and geographic location. It is based on data provided by over 2,400 organizations across 11 arts disciplines in 2017, with trends for a subset of over 1,900 organizations over the four-year period 2014-2017. It also looks at contributions from five major sources: individuals, trustees, corporations, foundations and government. The new report is the latest in SMU DataArts’ series of research studies and white papers offering insights and useful tools for arts organizations to ensure their long-term stability.
About SMU DataArts
SMU DataArts, a joint project of the Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business at SMU, compiles and analyzes data on arts organizations and their communities nationwide and develops reports on important issues in arts management and patronage. Its findings are available free of charge to arts leaders, funders, policymakers, researchers and the general public. The vision of DataArts is to build a national culture of data-driven decision making for those who want to see the arts and culture sector thrive. Its mission is to empower arts and cultural leaders with high-quality data and evidence-based resources and insights that help them to overcome challenges and increase impact. Publications include white papers on culturally specific arts organizations, the egalitarian nature of the arts in America, gender equity in art museum directorships, and more, as well as reports on the health of the U.S. arts and cultural sector, and the annual Arts Vibrancy Index, which highlights the 40 most arts-vibrant communities around the country. For more information, visit www.smu.edu/artsresearch.