Mary Trudel and Rory MacPherson led a workshop at PAE 2012 in Miami

Fundraising Strategies: Making Social Media Mission Critical

Professional Development Workshop at the Performing Arts Exchange 2012 Miami, Florida

Trudel | MacPherson principals, Rory MacPherson and Mary Trudel headlined at South Arts’ annual booking conference for East Coast presenters. Drawing on data from our national How Strong Is Your Social Net national survey, and hundreds of practitioner interviews, we explored best practices in using social media to generate contributed income. Skills and tactics highlighted ranged from crowd-funding to donor cultivation to sponsorship trades and eyeball farming.

 The PowerPoint presentation of our workshop is available here. A few highlights:

Nationally only 5% of arts groups report use of social media has delivered mission critical or major results. 70% of survey respondents report achieving either good or some results but a significant percentage – 24% — report no results.

Our workshop highlighted the importance of treating fundraising as part of a continuum of audience engagement. Noting that “You can’t ask someone to marry you on the first date,” Mary described a cultivation approach which rewards and engages prospects at every level of interest. Major donors expect tangible rewards and recognition such as building naming rights and personal attention. We suggested that every level of engagement requires a “What’s in it for me?” response. Prospects, casual donors, subscribers, regular attendees and increasingly loyal donors can be cultivated by creative use of access and prominence, moving audiences to become fans, donors and evangelists for your organization.

We discussed effective use of social media is building engagement on steroids! The best organizations understand that their greatest assets are — to use a Facebook word – their friend relationships with audiences, visitors, fans and patrons. These groups can be mobilized to help but you CANNOT make those friends in a crisis.

Friends are made on the frontlines through individual experiences that bring fans closer or push them away. We’ve reviewed 8 important elements of effective engagement which can solidify engagement and make social media mission critical for your fundraising:

1. It’s Not One Size Fits All

2. Make it Personal + Concrete + Time Sensitive

3. Connect with Values and Value Connections

4. Listen and Respond

5. Cultivate Productive Partnerships

6. Eyeball Farming Only Works with Friends

7. Measure What Matters

8. Involve the Whole Organization

We’d love to hear about your experiences making social media mission critical in fundraising. Do be in touch.

Date City Venue
September 21, 2012 Miami South Arts Performing Arts Exchange
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Mary Trudel and Jai Sen addressed the Communicating The Museum Conference

As part of the global Communicating The Museum Conference at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Trudel | MacPherson and Sen Associates presented back to back Strengthening Your Social Net: Adapting to a Connected Future workshops on June 28th

Mary Trudel and Jai Sen addressed delegates at the international Communicating The Museum Conference held at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Noting that, “Adopting digital and social media is no longer optional,” Mary and Jai reviewed the larger, long-term technology issues affecting visual arts organizations and museums.

Based on our landmark How Strong Is Your Social Net? study of digital and social media adoption and usage among arts organizations, we presented an overview of digital media attitudes, successes, and challenges facing visual arts organizations and museums specifically. Looking at the issue from a macro view gave participants an opportunity to compare their experiences with others’ and shape their strategies by making more informed decisions about which technologies to adopt.

Participants completed a brief questionnaire during the session comparing their results and institutional attitudes with the national sample. Respondents indicated minimal resistance to adopting digital and social platforms with only 30% reporting “some resistance” and 35% describing resistance as “only a little.” Most respondents reported solid results from their social media efforts – especially increased website traffic and positive audience feedback — with only 10% noting audience response as “indifferent.”

A majority of respondents reported adding video/audio/mobile content and scannable codes with a smaller percentage mentioning games, contests and interactive exhibits. Most respondents measure results via website analytics with more than half also tracing influence and press/media coverage.

Full results of the live survey follow:

1. To what extent have you encountered resistance within your organization around adopting digital and social platforms?
• Only a little (35%)
• Some (30%)
• None (26%)
• A lot (9%)
2. How have your audiences responded to your technology programs?
• Positively (62%)
• Mixed (29%)
• Indifferently (10%)
• Negatively (0%)
3. Do you consider your organization to be well-suited for enhancements of the museum experience through the implementation or expansion of any or all of the following technologies?
• Video content (41%)
• All of the above (35%)
• Audio tours or content for mobile devices (29%
• Interactive experiences around exhibits (29%)
• None of the above (12%)
• Virtual tours (12%)


4. What types of technology-based programs have you implemented at your institution?
• Video content (56%)
• Enhanced content (38%)
• Scannable codes (for example, QR codes) (38%)
• Games or contests (25%)
• Virtual or interactive exhibits (25%)
• Other (19%)
• Virtual tours (19%)
• Augmented reality (6%)
• None of the above (6%)
• Way-finding and location awareness (0%)
5. In what areas have you seen the best results using social media and digital communications?
• Increased website traffic (75%)
• Positive audience feedback (63%)
• Increased social media influence (63%)
• Partnerships with peer organizations or businesses (31%)
• Increased admissions (25%)
• Press or media exposure (19%)
• Stronger sponsorships or funding (6%)
• Other (6%)
• None of the above (0%)
6. How are you measuring your results?
• Website analytics (94%)
• Social media monitoring and influence measurement tools (56%)
• Press or media coverage (56%)
• Tracking fan activity in online communities (25%)
• Online surveys or feedback via your website (25%)
• Coded offers (19%)
• Staff time spent (6%)
• Revenues (including donations and grants) (6%)
• Other (6%)
• Increased revenues (0%)

Date City Venue
June 28, 2012 New York CommunicatingTheMuseum
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NJ Thrive Arts Conference

Trudel | MacPherson Principals Mary and Rory Lead Workshop at NJ Thrive Arts Conference 2012

Photo credit: Laura Pedrick Photography

Hosted by Art Pride New Jersey and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the conference brought together more than 100 New Jersey arts organizations from all across the state. The conference theme reflected the importance of seamlessly integrating marketing, development and advocacy into all aspects of daily business. T|M was invited to review findings from our national How Strong Is Your Social Net? Research project and compare responses from the more than 35 NJ arts groups who took the survey with national data. We also moderated an interactive workshop designed to improve and integrate organizations’ communications strategies and audience engagement plans.

Date City Venue
June 13, 2012 Princeton Thrive! Arts Conference 2012
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Rory MacPherson to co-lead Engaging Dance Audiences Learning Exchange

Trudel | MacPherson principal, Rory MacPherson, is participating as a co-designer and facilitator of Learning Exchange meetings that are part of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation-funded Engaging Dance Audiences Initiative (EDA).

The first of these meetings will take place at the Gibney Dance Center in New York City on Sunday, May 13, 2012 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  At this gathering representatives of EDA grantee organizations and other dance professionals will share ideas and information about audience engagement.  The Learning Exchanges are open to all, and are suitable for artists, managers, marketing staff, agents, and educators.  For more information please visit the Dance/USA website: http://www.danceusa.org/edalearningexchanges.

Rory will also be helping to lead a subsequent EDA Learning Exchange that will take place in San Francisco on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 in conjunction with the Dance/USA 2012 Annual Conference.

Rory MacPherson speaking at a recent conference


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Trudel | MacPherson and Sen Associates kick off the Montana Arts Council’s Leadership Institute 2012 webinar series on March 20th at 12 noon CDT

As reported in the the Montana Arts Council’s (MAC) March newsletter, the Trudel | MacPherson/Sen Associates team will be presenting results of its How Strong Is Your Social Net? 2011 landmark study of arts organizations’ usage and perceptions of digital and social media.  Montana organizations comprise a large portion of the study and data on how those groups’ social media practices differ from national trends will be featured in the presentation.  More than 35 Montana groups have signed on for the webinar which will feature case studies of successful practices as well as interesting national insights about social media adoption and efficacy.

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Celebrating Leap Year in New Orleans

T|M principals Rory and Mary presented the results of our How Strong Is Your Social Net? at a February 29th meeting being organized by the Arts Council of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans.

In order to have the greatest relevance for the representatives of arts organizations who attend, we re-opened the online survey and make it available to groups in the greater New Orleans area. More than two dozen groups took the survey and we analyzed these results to draw comparisons to our national findings at the meeting.

Date City Venue
February 29, 2012 New Orleans Graduate Program in Arts Administration, UNO
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T | M at Grantmakers in the Arts in San Francisco

Rory MacPherson and Tom Kaiden

T | M principals, Rory MacPherson and Mary Trudel, presented a preview of the national How Strong Is Your Social Net? survey of arts organizations’ digital communications practices and perceptions at the Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) 2011 Conference. Introduced by Cinda Holt, Business Development Specialist at the Montana Arts Council, the presenters were joined by Tom Kaiden, President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, to report on results and discuss interesting trends.

Rory MacPherson, Mary Trudel, Cinda Holt and Arlynn Fishbaugh

The presentation probed how groups can better communicate authentically with patrons and fans and create communities of interest. Tom discussed how the Alliance is supporting arts groups’ audience building efforts via social media. Cinda and colleague, Arlynn Fishbaugh, Executive Director of the Montana Arts Council discussed Montana arts groups’ technology constraints and struggles with social media and highlighted the growing use of mobile technology throughout the state to connect with younger arts enthusiasts.

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T | M and Sen Associates featured in Americans for the Arts NAMP press release

The press release for Americans for the Arts Annual National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Louisville highlights Sen Associates and Trudel|MacPherson Arts Consulting’s November 14th session presenting our “How Strong is Your Social Net” study.

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Effective Communications: the Influence of Digital and Social Media in the Arts

Trudel | MacPherson Principal Mary Trudel was invited to author a guest post for Americans for the Arts, which was featured on the National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) website and in a recent email newsletter. Mary’s guest blog is re-posted here. We’re excited for our upcoming NAMP webinar (there’s still time to sign up!) and to present our definitive national results at the NAMP conference in November.

In our work as communications consultants specializing in the arts, the questions we hear most often tend to involve digital and social media.

Even arts organizations that are recognized for innovating online are asking basic questions about the effectiveness of what they’re doing: if successful, how to make success more predictable and repeatable; and if not, how to get the sorts of results others are achieving.

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Event: Philadelphia Cultural Alliance presentation and workshop

T|M principals, joined by digital media strategist Jai Sen, will conduct a workshop featuring local results from the How Strong is Your Social Net? Survey compared and contrasted with national trends for the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.  Alliance members will participate in a digital communications workshop using the T | M diagnostic tool Strengthening Your Social Net.

Date City Venue
July 21, 2011 Philadelphia Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
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