4 Ways to Drive Donations with Incentives

June 30, 2020 MogoARTS Marketing

As organizations build their strategy, donations are going to be a big factor for those in the Arts. Earlier this month, we discussed the value of the arts donation audiences, messaging best practices, and maximizing your efforts. However, we know a large component of donation campaigns this year will have a focus on incentives to engage donor audiences. By combining a compelling offer and the right strategy, arts organizations can reach new donors, attract larger gifts, and build a relationship with your core donor audiences. In talking with arts organizations across the US and Canada, here are the top 4 strategies nonprofits are using to engage with their donor audiences:

1. Gifts
2. Donor-Only Access
3. Direct recognition
4. Going Digital

GIFTS
In working with our arts partners, we are seeing more donation campaigns offering gifts as a way to encourage engagement. These incentives are often awarded if patrons donate a certain amount, which can increase the average donation value and draw in first-time and loyal donors. Our arts partners are experimenting, now more than ever, with different gifting strategies. Here are some examples of incentives to help drive donations:

  • Raffle Tickets
  • Auction Items
  • Matching Donation Gifts
  • Ticket or Subscription Giveaways
  • Concession Vouchers
  • Gift Cards

Raffle or auction item gifts can include memorabilia, stage props, or even autographed items from directors and actors. These gifts can range in value to both the audience and the venue, but the goal is to encourage and incentivize donors to give at various levels to ensure organizations are achieving their donation goals.

Pro Tip: Build a tiered strategy for your incentives so donors are encouraged to give at the level that makes sense for them and for the organization. Higher value gifts should require an increased donation. These gifts help motivate people to give more if there is an incentive to do so.

DONOR-ONLY ACCESS PERKS
Another way to incentivize donations and increase engagement is to provide donor-only access perks. By creating special offers just for donors, it helps to drive a feeling of priority and exclusivity for those willing to give. Creating perks will help establish and build stronger relationships with your donor community. Organizations are developing different strategies to reward donors through exclusive access and experiences, including:

  • Priority Access – If you provide donors with priority access to performances, workshops, events, classes, etc. this can capture donors’ interest, encourage them to give at higher levels, and provide them additional ways to experience your organization now and in the future. This can also include giving them priority access to will-call or concession lines as a way to reward your donors.
  • Donor-Only Events – Organizations can host appreciation events or performances where donors have exclusive access. In our current climate, we are seeing organizations hosting donor-only virtual events, while others are going to host a donor-specific in-venue event once they are able to. Either way, it’s a great way to reward those willing to give.
  • Exclusive Content – Other organizations have been talking about offering streaming or interactive content including interviews with the set or costume designers, sneak peek of dress rehearsals, etc. Many are creating a library of on-demand content that only donors will have access to. Meet and Greets – Organizations are offering virtual meetings, happy hours, or Q&A sessions with directors, composers, actors, dancers, etc. so that donors will have a one of a kind experience. Through this intimate unique experience, the organization is able to build a stronger loyalty with these donors.

These offers have tangible value both to the arts organizations and donors, so it’s important to set a minimum donation requirement for people to access these donor-only perks.

Pro Tip: There is an investment in time and resources to develop some of these ideas. Look for ways the content or events can be documented and repurposed for press or promotional purposes, that way you will be able to further maximize your efforts.

DIRECT RECOGNITION
Showing appreciation to donors directly is a great way to make them feel valued and to show how important their ongoing support is for your organization. Here are some ways organizations are able to recognize their donors:

  • Digitally through newsletters, emails, website, or social media
  • Printing a donors name in a playbill or performance materials
  • Write hand-written thank you letters
  • Create plaques, certifications, or awards
  • Adding names to a donation wall or theater seats where budget and donation amount allow

Pro Tip: Using social media to thank your donors has the added benefit of extending your reach and amplifying your efforts. Thank donors on social will allow you to reach donors, your followers, and reach new audiences through shares and hashtags. All of which could draw in other donations.


GOING DIGITAL
While you build out your donation strategy one thing to keep in mind is how digital efforts are able to amplify your message, reach your audience efficiently, and drive donations. While most of the ideas and donor strategies were discussed above, going digital can amplify those strategies and help you reach your donation goals. Here are some ideas on how you can embrace digital efforts to drive donations:

  • Digital campaigns can help promote gifts and perk programs so that your target audience understands the value and benefits of supporting the arts
  • Promote your streaming or on-demand content. If donor-only shows or behind-the-scenes content is possible, target audiences that are most likely to donate.
  • On social, run digital campaigns to amplify the recognition and appreciation of your donors. It can become its own mini-campaign of thanks which can help keep your brand top-of -mind while encouraging people to give


No matter if you are using incentives like gifts, donor-access, recognition, finding the right ways to incentivize and appreciate your patrons will help you build a connection and continue to drive donations. In this time, arts organizations can find innovative ways to keep their audience connected and motivated to give while rewarding them for their generosity.