The 2013 BCA National Survey of Business Support for the Arts conducted by Americans for the Arts found that over 85% of contributions to the arts are made by small and medium-sized businesses. Supporting the arts has become a higher priority for businesses, and they are staying local more than ever.

Arts organizations across the nation, take note: there is huge opportunity here for partnership.

Are you asking local businesses to support your mission? Are you clearly communicating the reciprocal benefits to business partners within your community? Of those companies in the 2013 study that did do not currently give to the arts, one-third cited that they had never even been asked by an arts organization to contribute. If you aren’t asking, you should be!

When you do approach a business, it is important to communicate more than just the “warm-fuzzy” feelings that giving to a non-profit can produce. Before you ask for support, do your homework and consider including the following points in your appeal:

  • Show businesses how a partnership can improve their bottom line.
  • Demonstrate how you can tie their company’s good name or products to the good work you do in your community.
  • Tie your organization’s efforts to the mission of the business you are approaching.
  • Provide evidence that supporting your organization will lead to increased employee creativity and growth. Many corporate partners find that they are able to recruit and retain creative and innovative employees through their involvement with arts organizations – spotlight this fact!
  • Approach the decision-makers and make sure they know that the money does not have to come from a company’s charitable giving budget. Gifts can also come from marketing or human resources departments, employee donation funds, and company foundations.

Integrating these components into your fundraising efforts may help you turn non-supporters into both partners and advocates, which would be a win/win for your organization, your partners, and your community.

Erin Morris is Turnkey’s new Director of Cultural & Performing Arts. Contact her to learn more about Turnkey’s efforts in the arts space!

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