Developing fundraising ideas in the arts world.

Ideas and SWOT analysis

Gather together ideas from all of your stakeholders.  Include colleagues, volunteers, donors, partners, users, competitors and beneficiaries. For example brain storming (or if you prefer, thought showers) can be used to generate ideas. At this stage reject nothing.

SWOT analysis plays a big part in this process. SWOT, a strategic planning tool summarises the main issues from your business environment.  Moreover, what impacts on strategy development. Therefore it can be adapted to be help generate fundraising options and assess future courses of action.

Above all your main aim is to identify the current strengths and weaknesses.  Identify ones that are relevant and capable of dealing with the changes taking place in the business. The analysis is only considered useful if it is comparative, not absolute to your competitors or other organisations. It will exam strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relative to competitors.


Meanwhile, at this second stage, ideas are screened and selected. Screen your ideas against pre-set criteria for those that should be progressed or dropped. Your selection criteria includes and reflect your risk appetite.

Resources will include the following:

  • Financial
  • Start-up funds and working capital
  • Human resources to include numbers, demography and skills levels
  • Intellectual capital to include brand names, reputation, client databases and business systems.

Testing ideas

Establish if your fundraising campaign resonates with your target audience. Also,  test-pilot, get feedback and refine the campaign. Test the idea among your own staff and colleagues. This is a good way to evaluate the potential attractiveness of your fundraising initiative.


If you are doing a fundraising event such as bungee jumping or Zip Wire challenge then get feedback of the pricing of the event. Factor in

  • your promotional messages
  • the digital and other channels used and
  • your target audience.

Business planning and performance

During the development process develop a system of key performance indicators (KPIs). These will help you keep an eye on progress and implementation.

Put together a budget, cash flow and planning document. This shows that you have considered and tried to understand the risks involved. In other words you have considered how you will deal with those risks, making sure you are further on in achieving your goals.

Market testing

Focus groups, and test panels after the product or products have been tested gives you valuable information. Do last-minute improvements and tweaks after this phase.


Developing fundraising ideas won’t make money, you need to implement the idea.  This is where your fundraising programme has gone mainstream. Donors are engaging, calls for actions are being heeded progress is being monitored and the money is flowing in.

Your promotional activity will keep your campaign in the minds of those that engage with it.

  • Firstly, tailor and adapt your PR and marketing to promote the campaign too.
  • Secondly, use social media and tap into all your communication networks.
  • Thirdly, give rewards and recognition to your donors and volunteers.
  • Fourthly monitor, control and evaluate post-launch.
  • Lastly, product pricing

Many factors influence your pricing in your fundraising campaign. As a result it’s important to understand the different pricing approaches you can adopt. Put as much research into your pricing as possible. Don’t use guesswork as this can be a very expensive mistake.

Below are some of the broad pricing approaches:

• Firstly, Break even. Calculate the point at which your income from fundraising and your costs are equal
• Secondly, Cost based. You calculate all the costs involved and then add a figure on top to give you a profit.
• Lastly, Competition. Known as a market based approach. It is based on the price that you think would be if offered by your competitors.

Use other techniques, such as

• Price discrimination: Different prices for different donor groups
• Early bird pricing: You reduce the price if your product is bought purchased earlier than usual
Premium Pricing: Keep the price high and create the perception that your product is of the highest quality

Structure and vision

In conclusion, developing fundraising ideas needs a clear definition of your goals and objectives. Factor in contingencies for each major stage of the process. You need structure and vision rather than straight-jacket and gaze.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about fundraising in the arts.

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