Where is the pot of gold? DG Revenue Development

I was just reading something yesterday about how arts organizations are predisposed to try to get money as fast and as immediately as possible, but that leaves out the thinking in a holistic way that this is something you always need to allocate time to. It’s not just about who can give me the money the fastest but instead it should be relationship building. It gave me a lot to think about as I’ve been working on the fundraising side of things for DG. Their previous staff who was working on fundraising has stepped down for personal reasons and we are currently picking up where she left off. So as I were looking into reorganizing the fundraising plan, I realized that their financial stability is at stake.

Revenue development tip #1: It can’t be all grants because you’ll always be feast or famine which you will never be able to plan what you’re doing next. You need to build the grant a little differently so that you leave enough fat to do the continual 12-month planning cycle and the bigger picture. 

At lunch time, we sat down and had a quick talk with Erika Nikolai from Park People, who has played a successful role in planning and revenue development for her organization . She recommended DG to look into a funding portal called ‘Grant Connect’ and use it to fill the gaps between grants. The major downside of relying grants wholly is the uncertainty. Your organization could  run for another year if you’re lucky and hit a few balls out of the ball park, but again, nothing is guaranteed. As we learnt from Heather’s financial management, never put all eggs in one basket– organizations could be in great risk of financial instability result from single revenue stream. One possible solution for DG could be diversifying revenue stream by taking on potential consulting jobs. It would make the program more resilient because its a different kind of funding revenue.

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Grant Connect (formerly known as Canadian Directory to Foundations and Corporations) is a paid portal for both funder and grant seeker. With the search criteria you put into the system, it automatically generates a list of possible matches. For this particular list shown in the image, I put in the following key words: organizational development and management, charitable sector, social enterprise, community economic development, arts education, arts management training and philanthropy.

Revenue development tip #2: The golden rule of going after concentric circle–you steward, cultivate and solicit. 

After the short meeting, I started to put together a comprehensive list of what’s available out there, including grants from all government, arts councils (CCA, OAC, TAC, Canadian Heritage), family foundations, OTF, private gifts, corporate sponsorship and crowdfunding. Being a potentially impactful small organizations as oppose to agency or well-established larger group, its important for DG to be willing to let their program morph. Another challenge is that funders generally support programs or project; funds are usually  restricted and expect certain outcome. The big need for DG is to raise money for overall capacity and infrastructure-building on the operating side as oppose to one-time project funding.

I would really care if we fail to raise money if we haven’t gone after everything thats possibly out there.                                                                                                                              -David Buchbinder 


5 thoughts on “Where is the pot of gold? DG Revenue Development

  1. Thank you for showing us what grant connect looks like! Sounds like it is a very useful program for smaller arts organizations. I am interested in the consulting that Diasporic Genius would be doing. Would they be assisting organizations with alternative ways to engage communities? Do they consult through proposing policies or governance? Very interesting organization. They seem like an all-encompassing philanthropic organization. Are you ever confused by their mission? I feel like I would be!


    1. Assisting and leading community-engaged (i.e: story circles) would definitely be another stream of revenue for them. Who doesn’t like to pay to do what they have been doing? Beyond that, they are also in touch with City of Mississauga for a heritage conservation work. I do agree with you that they’re program is a little all over the place. However I think it’s important for small scale organizations to be adaptable and flexible in order to be strong and resilient.


  2. Yes, diversity of funds is extremely important for all arts organizations! It’s a shame that funders usually prefer project grants over multi-year operating grants, as both are essential for the arts to thrive. That’s awesome you were able to use Grant Connect, seems like the perfect tool for our final assignment in Fundraising class.


    1. Truth to be told, I did use it to research on our final grant-writing assignment! It’s such a shame that grant connect is a paid membership service and I could only access it via my organization’s login credentials. Beyond that, I would say it’s definitely a handy tool that helps navigating through fundraising.


      1. i thought Anne asked our library to subscribe it! But don’t feel shamed, considering it as a benefit for all your hard work there! 🙂


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