National Report: Arts Organizations Spending Less and Making Less on Fundraising; Individual Donations are Up

by Glasstire March 8, 2019

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In late February, SMU DataArts released its most recent report on how arts organizations spend and make money through fundraising efforts, among other topics. The report shows that organizations are both spending less and making less money on fundraising. It states: “Overall, the amount of contributed revenue generated from every dollar of fundraising expenses went down from $8.80 in 2014 to $8.56 in 2017.”

But at the same time the research showed that funding coming from individual donors increased between 2014 and 2017, despite the fact that there are fewer donors. Via SMU DataArts:

“Our analysis has shown that when organizations invest more in fundraising, they raise more money, indicating that smart investment is key,” said Dr. Zannie Voss, director of SMU DataArts and professor of arts management in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business. “We encourage organizations to use this report as an effective management tool to set goals, make strategic decisions and contextualize their performance with key stakeholders.”

The data collected runs from 2014 to 2017. The report shows that, generally, during those years, government support remained stable (from city, state, and national sources) and that support from trustees, corporations, and foundations also remained stable.

The report breaks the data down by sector, and found that while return on investment through fundraising rose for some sectors, including arts education, performing and music arts organizations, the greatest decline in return on fundraising was found in the art museum sector — a whopping 20%. And while art museums and orchestras saw an increase in individual donors, all other income apart from fundraising remained the same between 2014 and 2017.

There’s much more to parse; the report is here. The data comes from the self-reporting of more than 2400 organizations across the country. “The new report is the latest in SMU DataArts’ series of research studies and white papers offering insights and useful tools for arts organizations to ensure their long-term stability.”


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