Friday, January 9, 2015
Less than 150k Breakout Session (following the 10:00 – 11:15am plenary session: Capitalization & Sustainability)
15 minute Q&A with Susan Nelson (Principal, TDC)
Q: We are having trouble when talking with funders because we find ourselves getting dinged for having surpluses. Do you have any strategies for changing that conversation and helping funders to understand that a surplus means we are doing our jobs well?
Susan: Let’s talk about surpluses first – you can show surplus on your P&L as a line item called “contribution to reserve” think about it as a conscious choice to invest in the future — it is okay to put this on your financial statements that way.
Don’t promise things you can’t deliver – can change conversation over the long-term … funders only change their mind about what they want to give is through a relationship, long term
Q: There is certain language we use inside the organization about development that we know we can’t use with the public or with funders. Can you speak about that?
Susan: Capitalization is like doing your laundry at home – you don’t talk about it outside. When approaching funders, you want to focus on the needs of your organization. You want to talk in terms of “I need money for this… ”
“Creative platemaking” & “mergers and collaborations” are the things funders most want to fund
Q: We live in a small community of about 35,000 and we compete with other arts organizations for money from funders in that area. Can we start pursuing funding outside of our community to lessen our competition?
Susan: all politics is local — ALL FUNDING IS LOCAL
Fundraising is a tribe war – the funders want to see themselves in the world
I am SUCH a fan of private/crowd funding – make yourself a good video and put it online – use Kickstarter or Indiegogo
Q: There is a risk to funding a building and owning a building, but there is also a risk to not owning a building — do you have any tips for managing or mitigating that risk?
Susan: Every data-pull we have done shows that people who owned buildings were in worse financial shape than companies who did not own buildings.
Q: Speaking of buildings, when we need to raise funds to pay for renting buildings, is there language appropriate for that kind of fundraising? Most funders don’t want to donate to pay rent.
Susan: “building reserve” — improvements to the building can also be called this.
INTRODUCTIONS followed the Q & A session. Some of the most common concerns discussed were:
-Safely, sustainably, scaling an organization
-Balancing fundraising and profitability with “Artistic Integrity.”
-Getting better at asking for money
-Finding more capital
-Maintaining a year-round presence in the community when the organization is too small to do programming year round