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.
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