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8 Unique Fundraising Ideas for Arts Organizations

7 min read
May 14, 2020
Ronnie Gomez headshot
Ronnie Gomez
Content Marketing Manager, Neon One
Rows of empty theater seats

Fundraising is about building relationships whether you’re providing services to the vulnerable, healing the sick, or creating art.

Although fundraising for arts organizations has unique challenges, like justifying the need to ask for support from donors for your arts and culture versus donating to the efforts of front-line workers, art in all forms is something that every community needs. This includes summer art camps, museums, theaters, art galleries, and more. 

Don’t be discouraged. You are not competing against other nonprofits. There’s nothing that suggests that someone who donates to their local United Way won’t also want to give to their local arts community.

Online fundraising allows people from across the world that want to support the art community to do so don’t be afraid to ask.

Use our tips below to encourage your organization to find new ways to engage and excite current and potential donors. 

1. Hold a Facebook Fundraiser

It’s almost impossible to ignore platforms like Facebook. 

When looking to raise money for your arts organization, take advantage of the available tools through Facebook like Facebook Fundraisers.

Facebook Fundraisers allow you to meet your supporters where they’re probably spending more time than ever — online. Donors can easily share the campaign with friends so that you can gain supporters across your donor’s networks. 

You can also use the same Facebook Fundraiser for your organization on Instagram with the new Instagram donate stickers

Although this shouldn’t be your arts organization’s only fundraising platform, it is something that can definitely amplify your other campaigns.  

2. Target Your Loyal Patrons

It is more likely than not that you already have a base of advocates that want to support the work of your organization. 

Reach out to these loyal patrons. 

Share your story through personal emails or hand written-notes from your board and stakeholders.

Your donors want to feel like they are helping push your mission forward. Use appeals to share your appreciation for their support. Finish it up with a story that highlights the value of your organization, and you’ve got yourself a gripping appeal. 

It’s never too early to prepare for the year-end giving season.

To help you kickstart your efforts, we created this guide to planning your EOY campaign.

Get the guide

3. Hold an Auction

Auctions are popular fundraising events for all kinds of nonprofits.

Get creative and host an online auction for your arts organization as a way to engage and connect with your supporters. 

Online auctions are essentially a virtual silent auction. You can set up a website that includes all of your items you are auctioning off. Participants can register their credit card information and place bids on the item listing in a specific time frame. 

Choose unique auction items. Try enlisting artists to create a piece of art for your event, or auction off posters signed by the cast of your latest show. You could even choose a few choice costumes and set pieces you have stored at your theater.

If you don’t have the sponsors or the budget for high-end prizes, try hosting a trash art auction. 

Engage local artists to create art from recyclables in their homes and auction the pieces out during the online event. You could even include digital copies of never before seen photos of past shows or exclusive recordings of rehearsals. 

Just remember that you should be considering the giving capacity of your donor database along with their interests. 

Neon One Tip: Neon CRM offers a seamless integration with our auction software partner ClickBid that allows users to easily pull up contact info as guests check in and match sales to those records during the event.

Learn More About Neon CRM

4. Host an Online Course

Artists and arts organizations have been largely impacted by performances and events across the country being canceled, and many artists have lost work and compensation. 

Teaching art by hosting online courses has become a viable option during this time. There are tons of parents that are searching for activities to keep their kids busy while they’re cooped up inside. 

Artist-led programming and online exhibitions are ways to keep income coming in, while still being able to teach and share art across the community. Consider asking staff members or volunteers if they are interested in teaching a 101 arts course online based on their expertise. 

5. Raffle Off 1:1 Lessons

Similar to auctioning off items, you can offer 1:1 lessons or a mentorship call in a raffle. 

This would involve setting up one-on-one virtual conversations with your art’s organizations local celebrities. This may be some of your lead performers, popular visual artists, or directors. These sessions can be of great value to high school theatre students who have likely lost their programs due to school cancellations, as well. 

This idea is a way to not only make personal connections in your community but raise money while you do it. 

6. Engage Your Community

Local art is something that people want to be a part of! Show your supporters and audience behind the scenes of your organization.

Try hosting a virtual Q&A with available members of your performing arts group. You can ask for donations throughout the virtual event or charge a small fee for attending the Q&A.

This is a great opportunity to share your organization’s story while engaging both your donors and fans.

7. Offer Entertainment

Do what you do best, give ‘em the old razzle-dazzle.

Depending on the type of arts organization, try creating an online event that plays to your staff and volunteer’s talents. 

Whether that’s hosting a film festival, virtual art show, or open-house karaoke night, offer your supporters a way to continue to enjoy the hard work and talent of your team. Livestream the event with hourly donations goals, and engage supporters new and old. 

8. Create a Social Media Campaign

Now more than ever, people are using social media to connect with their friends and favorite organizations. 

If you create the right campaign, social media can help your organization raise a lot of money and expand your reach in a short amount of time.

Start your campaign with an open mind. You don’t need to spend hours every day on social media to make your message shine; all you need is consistency. 

  • Set aside 15-30 minutes a day on your social media sites to engage with your followers
  • Add a “Donate Now” button to your Facebook page
  • Recruit local businesses and social influencers
  • Above all else, authentically share your work and your impact with pictures, videos, and metrics

Creating an intentional social media campaign can be a way to share your message in a different medium than you may be used to, allowing you to direct new traffic to your website.

Donor Data is Key to Fundraising Success

The more you know about your donors, the better you can target your fundraising efforts. Whether it’s an email campaign of direct appeals, a silent auction event, or a social media campaign, a comprehensive donor management system will help you know what kinds of fundraisers your donors like best. 

Neon CRM is a powerful set of donor, volunteer, and event management tools all in a single, easy-to-use package. Whether you’re building segmented email lists, tracking supporter engagement with your arts organization, or building custom donation forms for a peer-to-peer fundraiser, Neon CRM has you covered.

To learn more about how Neon CRM and see the system in action, sign up for a group demo! These regularly scheduled, 30-minute sessions will teach you more about how Neon CRM’s features and capabilities—including the email builder, donation forms, fundraising dashboards, and more—help nonprofits scale their impact.

Sign Up for a Neon CRM Group Demo


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