“It has been really interesting, considering the thorny subject of how to acknowledge volunteers and donors, without turning a museum into a memorial garden full of plaques. At the beginning of this research it felt as though there was a big gulf between what works for volunteers and what works for financial donors but now I’m not so sure. Whist generalisations are dangerous, both volunteers and money donors are giving something to the museum because they think that it is worth it.
Obviously not everyone is entirely altruistic in their giving but it was striking that one experienced fundraiser said that it is possible to overestimate the level of acknowledgement that donors require and the same seemed to be true for volunteers when I spent time with volunteers from the project’s partner museums, listening to their feedback. What a lot of people seem to want is to feel that they have contributed to something they consider to be worthwhile and to feel that their contribution is appreciated. That doesn’t necessarily mean their name up in lights or renaming the entire museum, it might mean a quiet thank you for something specific, an offer to come to an event or a mention in the newsletter.
If you want to know more then have a look at the short Acknowledgement Report and read about the inspiring case study story of Kelvingrove in Glasgow, which had a queue of donors down the road at the end of their public appeal some years ago and who still have people coming back to find their grandparents’ names in the central hall over 10 years later”.
Julia Hill of Culture Force (A consultancy specialising in volunteering and a Flourish Project Partner). Julia can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @juliastephhill
Flourish Sharing Event
The South East Sharing Event took place here at Chiltern Open Air Museum and was well supported by a number of small to medium sized museums, our MDO and a warden from one of the local parish churches.
The presentations were interactive, enabling a two way sharing process between the delegates and the speakers. The project partners relayed the main learning areas under Flourish. All three partner museums benefited from having workshops, led by Julia Hill to consider the importance of the museum to the volunteer and vice versa and what forms of acknowledgement are desired. Feedback from the workshops show the value in offering volunteers an opportunity to speak freely and openly to an independent third party, without the museum’s management being present.
Volunteers want an opportunity to have their viewpoint and ideas considered; they want to be part of the decision making process at their chosen museum and feel they are an integral part of the team. We have learned that volunteers want to know the fundraising needs of the museum, wishing to be recognised, for the multiple ways they already contribute to the financial success of their museum. It was felt they contribute significantly, through the public talks, by asking for gift aid, bringing in artefacts and materials, giving guided tours, attending events, running tombola, raffles and quizzes out in the community). A number were adamant they do not want to be asked directly for donations.
Individual Giving Strategy As Promoted by our major donor consultancy – Lucy Marshall of Prospect Point
- To create, develop and implement a programme of fundraising from individuals to generate ongoing, sustainable income as part of the overall fundraising strategy.
- To identify, research and approach potential major gift donors
- To create a wider framework for regular individual giving across all donation levels
Consider the 7 steps of giving for a major donor.
(1). Identify person (2). Carry out research into them (3). Plan the meeting (know what you want out of it) (4). Tell the good news stories & explain the needs
(5). Time ‘the ask’ (6). Confirm what has been agreed (7). Steward & nurture the relationship
Successes so far: We have launched an appeal to coincide with Chiltern Open Air Museum’s 40th anniversary celebrations. One of our founder supporters has kindly agreed to become Patron to the Appeal and has written to other patrons requesting they join her in making a donation. This initiative, in conjunction our ‘Name The Day’ offer, where a donor offering £1,000 or more can enjoy a day, with their guests, (during the open season) with their name displayed and publicised. We have also enjoyed some degree of success, by asking if our donor would also be prepared to act as an ambassador for the museum, by writing to or inviting those identified, to also visit and offer support. We have begun to approach those who have a connection to the museum’s core themes and values. For example, in respect of Chiltern Open Air Museum, those with interests in heritage buildings, construction, engineering or traditional farming methods.
By concentrating on ‘warm’ connections such as existing or past suppliers, past sponsors and social contacts within local organisations, it has been possible to attract a number of event sponsors. Linking the museum’s success story, with the associated potential marketing coverage, both on site and on line to a captive visitor audience, offers the potential sponsor a realistic opportunity to promote and sell their own products and services.
By offering a menu of benefits, (that can include elements such as event sponsorship, free entrance for guests/staff, corporate experience days and building hire) depending on the amount of donation, can offer a potential sponsor, a realistic benefit, whilst also supporting their local heritage charity. The sponsor also has the opportunity to promote their product, through name and brand awareness, by tapping into the museum’s marketing and advertising facility, as well as through on site product display for the duration of a special event.
The June Blog, will consider the advantages of working with a consultant, expert in aspects of diversity, in order to engage ‘out of reach’ communities to our site.
Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s Flourish Blog.
Flourish Project Co-ordinator