New research for the cultural and performing arts sector reveals that members/subscribers and volunteers may hold greater philanthropic value to organisations than has been previously assumed.
During 2018-2019 I worked with Deanna Varga (MBA), Director and Founder of Mayvin Global on this research project to test our hypothesis that an organisations’ existing supporters represent significant potential financial benefit, beyond their annual fee and time. We first proposed the idea for this research here.
Our report Members and Subscribers – Is it working for everyone? Is everyone working for them? confirms an untapped opportunity for organisations to reduce their fundraising effort by leveraging their existing supporter segments.
The research showed that factors originating within organisations hampered financial opportunity and reinforced the industry’s prevailing belief that members/subscribers and volunteers were a capped and limited revenue stream.
The data suggests that organisations may be getting in the way of themselves when it comes to realising the full fundraising potential of their supporter segments. We found that internal factors, such as organisational structures and processes, and negative perceptions of value, were significant inhibitors and seemed to increase the ‘invisibility’ of members/subscribers as potential donors or philanthropists.
Changes to program mechanics, such as implementing auto-renewals, or simply asking for a donation, could have a significant impact – a surprising 63% of organisations do not offer auto-renewals and 29% do not invite members to fundraising events.
A lack of industry specific reference data was a further challenge and obstacle to confident and informed decision making within the sector.
Unfortunately, consistent methodology across the sector for counting members/subscribers or collating membership data simply does not exist. This lack of consistent data makes it difficult for organisations to benchmark their programs and make informed and confident decisions about investing in the segment. In the absence of data, important decisions about member and subscriber programs seem to be run on ‘gut feel’, which only reinforces assumptions that we have found to be largely untrue.
We anticipate our research will start to challenge these assumptions and change the value perceptions of membership and subscriber options within the industry.
A summary of the research findings can be viewed here.
We are commencing phase two of our research to continue to build data around links with membership/subscribers and philanthropy. You can contribute this research by visiting this page.
Thanks to all who contributed to this research so far and we hope to reach a lot more of you in this next phase!
Meanwhile, here’s a sneaky preview of some of the findings: