DONATE – democratising giving

This year’s MGS conference has a choice of breakout sessions in the morning and afternoon. In this post, William Makower introduces his session focusing on fundraising and income generation:

Funding, funding, funding;  it’s on everyone’s lips but whilst the context and concerns are known, the answers are much harder to come by. What is known is that central and local funding of the arts is going to be continually squeezed be that north or south of the border.

And such public cuts result in development (why not be honest and call it ‘fundraising’ since that is what it is?) teams working harder and harder reaching out to grant makers and major philanthropists to secure the funding they need. However, with London gaining 90% of individual donations and 67.8% of business donations[1], other avenues need to be urgently considered.

In March 2013 DONATE from the National Funding Scheme was launched to deliver a nationwide response to individual casual giving. Recognising the benefits of a nationally recognised brand, a freely available multi-channel mobile donation platform and, subject to user opt-in, donor data being provided back to the recipient venue, DONATE will change the face of individual giving from Perspex boxes to modern means that talk to younger audiences.

“So... who gave me that £20 note and why?” (National Funding Scheme)
“So… who gave me that £20 note and why?” (National Funding Scheme)

It’s a challenging idea since DONATE is based on a key insight; that asking for donations is best done at the point of emotion; in front of the Goya, inside Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s house or in the education centre of the Titanic Museum.  But by recognising this and encouraging venues to make the case for support during the visitor experience we are democratising giving; allowing visitors to decide who to support.

As a sector initiative (supported by Creative Scotland, Arts Council England, Nesta, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Garfield Weston and many others) the learnings and insights are available for all to benefit from.  And the learnings to date are rich and varied indicating a real appetite for visitors to become part of a local and real need to keep our culture available to all at the highest possible standard.

My fundraising and income generation session will look at the drivers behind the National Funding Scheme, how it works and the results to date. I look forward to seeing you there.

William Makower is the founder of the UK’s National Funding Scheme (which operates under the brand name DONATE) and will be presenting at the Museums Galleries Scotland Conference 2013. “Fortune Favours the Brave” is the second MGS conference and takes place 12th September, at Hampden Park, Glasgow. The conference will centre around the theme of organisational sustainability. It will explore the wider themes of up-skilling museums’ staff and leaders, putting into place business-like practices, attracting investment, engaging audiences and forming lasting partnerships. The booking link for the conference is 

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