Arts Fundraising Mentorship Program + Murray Art Museum Albury
In 2017 we offered twelve arts fundraising mentorships for Australian arts organisations. Successful art organisations were matched with an experienced arts fundraiser and worked on their fundraising strategy for ten months.
Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) is a contemporary art museum that takes on exhibitions with deep connections to Albury’s surrounding regional area and cultural identity.
We talked to Justine Heywood, Business Development Officer at MAMA, about their involvement in the mentorship program.
Aims for the program
Relatively new to working within the arts and philanthropy sector, I was in need of additional sound advice and experience, not only for myself but also for the benefit of MAMA. The prospect to learn from an experienced arts fundraiser seemed logical and an opportunity not to miss.
I was hoping to grasp the foundations of philanthropy and sponsorship and how I could integrate them into benefiting our organisation.
MAMA had just completed a major capital fundraising project which was an incredible success. There were four key advocacy groups, MAMA Art Foundation, MoMAMA, MAMA Advisory Committee, AlburyCity, and a focused group Arts Albury, which were the main drivers of the $1.2 million funds raised.
The capital project was all about delivering the building in its bricks and mortar state.
Exhibition Installation view – Material Sound
Caroline was fabulous!
Being able to bounce off ideas, problems and questions were invaluable to me and also to MAMA.
With her rich experience of fundraising in the arts, Caroline was able to offer diverse, helpful, practical and sound advice towards assisting MAMA through this mentorship and establishing a foundation towards building a philanthropy and fundraising strategy. Caroline was a delight to work with, her approachable and kind nature meant for an enjoyable year.
The first goal we worked on was working towards building the membership base. By simply being consistent with communication to the member’s group, we could almost instantly see positive results.
Caroline suggested a concept for a major fundraiser which could have been deemed ineffective, however, due to clear guidance and experience and support, the event concluded on a successful and highly experimental note. It came with lessons but was outnumbered with wins.
All of the advice that Caroline has shared with myself and the MAMA team is easily transferable to the setting in which MAMA sits.
Although MAMA is regional, and the challenges we face somewhat differ to those of our city colleagues, it really depends on our creativity, flexibility and attitude on how well we deliver and maintain our philanthropy program.
Halfway through the mentorship, we were in the middle of planning a major fundraiser for the Art Foundation. We needed to re-engage with our already existing donors and remind them of why they had invested in the arts within their community.
It was an opportunity to show that being involved in the arts within your community can be beneficial, rewarding and meaningful. Philanthropy is a long term project which requires the building of genuine and honest relationships.
Children Art Camps in the MAMA Studio
To continue on the success of the yearlong mentorship, we, as an organisation will need to continue to set goals annually and work towards actively making these goals come to fruition.
This will include more events, engaging with a newly appointed advisory committee and actively listening to what our visitors, donors and supporters are seeking in a contemporary art museum. We need to strive for excellence and work collaboratively with our community.
Integrating a Customer Relationship Management System
The MAMA Art foundation now has a website which collects donations on behalf of MAMA. This was implemented as a tool for collecting all financial donations to support the museum. A CRM was also introduced for the foundation for data integrity and the efficiency of staff time.
Our new strategy was developed in close collaboration with our donors and under Caroline’s guidance.
It has realistic targets that will allow us to celebrate the generosity of our community while challenging us to try new things (like offering free admission to special events through the attraction of sponsorship).
It is difficult to compare to the capital campaign as we are not delivering a building, we are delivering an ongoing professional contemporary art program in a regional setting. The original strategy was a capital campaign whereas our new strategy is about ongoing support, which is much more challenging.
This has meant we have had to be more thoughtful in our approach and inclusive of our supporters. The strategy has been developing over the past 18 months. We still have some refining to do but it’s looking good!
I was a newbie to working in this field so when I look back (from a distance) on the capital campaign, I was able to identify the difference in developing a project-specific fundraising campaign in contrast to a sustainable ongoing philanthropy program.
I found that it is important to be clear about what the funds raised are going towards and being clear in articulating the organization’s case for support.
The obvious highlight for me was being able to secure enough sponsorship which enabled the Sidney Nolan Ned Kelly series to be a non-ticket and free exhibition to our community and the region’s visitors.
Be clear in articulating your purpose, particularly when dealing with both sponsorship and philanthropy.
You can find out more and support MAMA’s ongoing fundraising efforts here.