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Philanthropy and the Arts

Philanthropy and the Arts

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Philanthropy and the Arts

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Lançado em:
Oct 1, 2015


Philanthropy and the Arts documents an emerging model of philanthropy that moves beyond the fundraising process to capture the essence of philanthropy in the intrinsic values held by donors, benefactors and philanthropic leaders. These values are the same as those that the arts bring to society, so the act of philanthropy itself embodies a commitment to ensuring the arts deliver for Australia a better community in which to live.
Philanthropy and the Arts contains stories of successful philanthropy in the arts and acknowledges the relevant research in fundraising and philanthropy, translating this into the tools required for effective practice. While focusing on The Australian Ballet in particular, it has application across all art forms and arts companies and the non-profit sector more broadly.
Lançado em:
Oct 1, 2015

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Philanthropy and the Arts - Jennifer Radbourne



THE PURPOSE OF this book is to document an emerging model of philanthropy that moves beyond the fundraising process to capture the essence of philanthropy in the intrinsic values held by donors, benefactors and philanthropic leaders. We propose that these values are the same values that the arts bring to society and that such philanthropy embodies a commitment to ensuring that the arts deliver for Australia a better community in which to live. Through a deep analysis of the journey of one of Australia’s greatest arts companies, The Australian Ballet, we guide readers from the concepts of philanthropy and the arts to a new values-driven cultivation strategy with transformational leadership and governance, and a sustainable commercial model. We forecast that the future of philanthropy lies in the engagement of donors based on their individual values and on a shared understanding of the organisation’s strategic intent for the gift. New donors are sophisticated in their thinking and seek a closer engagement with the organisation, much like an investor.

This book is designed for researchers, philanthropic organisations and arts companies, philanthropy practitioners, donors and policy makers. While it focuses on the arts, it will resonate strongly within the nonprofit sector in general.

The co-authors of this book are Kenneth Watkins, director of philanthropy at The Australian Ballet, and Professor Jennifer Radbourne, emeritus professor of Deakin University. Jennifer has taught and researched in arts management and philanthropy over a number of years, and Kenneth’s leadership and determination has brought significant fundraising success to The Australian Ballet. As co-authors we bring a decisive balance of theory and practice to this analysis of fundraising and philanthropy in Australia, and to our proposal for a new, engaged, values-driven philanthropy that links donors with the performance and the future of The Australian Ballet.

Throughout the book are case studies and stories that are based on Kenneth’s experiences and told from his perspective. To provide further context, the following account is both his story and that of the development of philanthropy at The Australian Ballet.

As a child I loved to watch people dance. I lived in a regional shipbuilding town in South Australia where the only dance I saw was ballroom dancing. When I left school and started working, this love of dance continued and I took dance lessons while working as a manager with a large retail company. I did not find the work sufficiently rewarding, but everything changed when I moved to Adelaide and became involved in organising a fundraising concert for the Aids Trust. We raised $40,000, and my interest in fundraising, specifically sponsorship, was stimulated. I realised that people did not know enough about the benefits of fundraising and thought that this was an opportunity for a new direction in my life and one which could possibly have rewards.

When I reflect on my life and career, I confess I had an incredible start in the fundraising area. I moved to Queensland in 1989 and completed a Graduate Diploma of Business Administration (Arts Administration), which included a subject taught by the then guru of fundraising, Everald Compton. I used each subject at university to shape my thinking in the area of sponsorship and fundraising—I focused on what I was passionate about. While studying part-time, I was working at the Queensland Performing Arts Complex (QPAC). Within a couple of years QPAC established their Corporate Projects Office and I was on the ground floor, working in sponsorship with the consultant. I learned a great deal from his practical experience. He and Everald gave me the basic building blocks of philanthropic fundraising.

In 1991 at QPAC, I saw The Australian Ballet in full performance. I was completely transported and convinced that if I could ever work at The Australian Ballet my work life would be totally fulfilled. In 1993, the Ballet arrived for another season and I arranged to meet the general manager and discuss the Ballet and my interest in the company. I gave him my CV, and we had a pleasant meeting. Some weeks later I received a call from the director of development asking if I was interested in applying for the position of corporate development manager, and by November 1993 I had accepted the position and moved to Melbourne to start my twenty-two year journey in fundraising with The Australian Ballet.

Understanding the structure at the Ballet in fundraising terms was a steep learning curve. My role in sponsorship included responsibility for raising funds for the regional, national and international activities of the company. It was rewarding, invigorating and challenging, and from the beginning I was motivated in two ways. Firstly, I wanted to be successful and achieve all that was needed for the budgeted income, and, secondly and more importantly, I was motivated to ensure that we had everything that was needed for the dancers.

In 1994 I achieved an income of $1.5 million, and in 1999 the figure grew to almost $3 million. Sponsorship for the Ballet required representation across all Australian activities, which included regional sponsorship for the Dancers Company, and international touring, which created differentiated ways that sponsors could be involved. With sponsors, the role entailed building relationships based on trust, allowing them direct access to the decision-makers to clarify the outcomes required and strategies to stay ahead of our competition. We found that it was always better to try to over-deliver in ensuring that sponsors renewed their commitment to the Ballet. As a result, we had long-term sponsors throughout the 1990s.

When I started working full-time in philanthropy, the same techniques were required: building honest and trusting relationships with longevity so that the patron became a partner supporting projects for the Ballet. Philanthropy was beginning to emerge as important for other reasons. It provided the opportunity for members to belong to a ‘club’, The Australian Ballet Club, where the development staff could steward people who had shown interest in the Ballet through a campaign to be together with like-minded people and share their stories and their value of the arts. When costs began to exceed the membership fees, members were transferred to the then newly developed patrons program. The bequest program was also in development at that time. Board policy ensured that income from bequests was retained as capital and only the interest spent on current activity. It was a slow income stream, but it began to create a financial platform for the Ballet.

I became the director of development in 1997, and, while the journey for philanthropy showed slow, incremental growth, it was attracting the attention of management. The patrons program increased, and by the end of 1997 we had raised $850,000 in annual gifts and a further $800,000 in bequests. Relationships with donors were growing and the frequency of donations increasing, along with acquisition of new patrons. Philanthropy now provided a strong growth opportunity for the Ballet’s business. By the year 2000, philanthropic donations contributed $1.15 million in annual giving, $10,000 in bequests and a $500,000 major gift to commence the Robert and Elizabeth Albert Music Fund.

In 2001 we expanded our programs from a patrons program to a private giving program and included more options for giving. The sponsorship and philanthropy programs were separated in 2002, with an extension of the major gift program. My new title was director of endowment and private giving, and I very quickly realised that success would only come if I immersed myself in this work seven days a week. Philanthropy for me has been about connecting the Ballet with the people who care, and this has become my whole life. The way I approach this work is to identify the company’s aspirations and priorities, and match these with people who have similar thoughts about these priorities.The rewards for both are tremendous. People who are going to do the most for you are already in your midst or in the audience.They are usually lovers of the art form and have a long connection with what you achieve, or have a passion or story that links them to the company.

Philanthropy grew organically at the Ballet. In the early years, our engagement with people to seek gifts was somewhat rudimentary. It was clear that we were surrounded by people who wanted to participate with the Ballet, and the time came to formalise this. There were no existing models or examples for us to follow. While philanthropy had been a part of The Australian Ballet from the very beginning in a small way, only in 2003/04 did we begin to develop a program of major gifts as a financial platform for the company to rely on for specific purposes. For large donations we began to focus on what is important to the company’s reputation: the dancers, new repertoire and international touring. Our first major gift came in 2004, then two in 2005. These three gifts gave me the energy to do more.The first $1 million gift received in 2005 attracted the attention of other organisations that were also keen to diversify their funding sources. For example, I was invited by Artsupport in the Australia Council to mentor smaller performing arts organisations in preparing their strategy for philanthropy and guiding them through their challenges as they settled the programs into their organisation.

The arrival of a new executive director with North American experience in philanthropy, Valerie Wilder, at The Australian Ballet in 2008, significantly changed the way we worked. Consultants were engaged to review the structure and activity of our fundraising and development. A new structure was proposed which included a bequest manager, major gift and patron managers, a single trusts and foundations manager and a services team to support all the activities of the philanthropic team. We also created a foundation board and rewrote the trust deed to give The Australian Ballet Foundation a contemporary and relevant rigour taking into account the latest tax laws.The foundation board is a sub-committee appointed by the company board. We adopted a ‘moves management’ process to steward donors from a particular level of giving to the next level, identifying their willingness, capacity and inclination to be involved. Members of the foundation board were able to identify people in our audience, bring new relationships to the art form and to steward them along. We knew that the more people you have acting as your ambassadors, the more success is enabled.

Philanthropy was now a critical part of our annual income. This, together with a determination to build our reserves, required a financial structure that would see the Ballet plan well into the future. With this new structure, we created a strong pipeline to feed new people into our philanthropic programs. Those who had not thought about the pleasure of becoming involved were encouraged to not only be our donors, but also be our ambassadors. We now have a marketing function that sets up strategic acquisition campaigns year on year for annual donors, tax-time donors and subscription-time donors, as well as a tactical campaign which changes every year. This pipeline continues to build our donor numbers and from this we are then able to build relationships with our patrons and realise their inclination to become more involved.

Most of what I have learned has been through feedback from donors, who tell me that the Ballet looks after them better than they expected. They want to be kept informed. They have brought their friends into the Ballet ‘family’. We are always looking for ways to inspire donors to give, and once they give, we ask them to give again. There is a strong interest in the added value we offer: patrons’ tours, lunches with other donors, pre-performance events, meeting the artists, early advice about shows and preferential bookings. We know donors value the financial stability of the company and our committed stewardship.

I was fortunate to be selected to study major gift fundraising at Harvard University in 2012. There, we discussed the importance of the board, the staffing structure in philanthropy, the case for support and the pipeline, and the value of identifying future relationships. We were reminded about the importance of storytelling, qualifying who you are, why you are the director of philanthropy and what the company means to you. Storytelling is always talking about what is possible and where the company would like to be and why. In twenty-two years at The Australian Ballet I have been responsible for raising $88 million in sponsorships, donations and pledged bequests. But most importantly, I have been able to facilitate friendships and relationships that will see The Australian Ballet endure the future with confidence and financial stability.

I found there were five challenges facing philanthropy at The Australian Ballet. The first was how to grow the donor pool in a country that does not have a strong culture of giving. The second related to internal board resistance and the need for rethinking philanthropy as being core to the whole organisation. Third was the move to accepting that small donors, of say $100, are as much a part of the company as major donors. Fourth was the complex nature of providing leadership and stewardship to major donors of a national company at the same time as delivering state activities that are geographically distant from the head office of the company. Fifth and finally, we

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