Emerging Digital Fundraising Pathways: Survey Results & Recommendations, Part 5 of 5

As we conclude our series on Emerging Technologies for fundraising, we are excited for the opportunities facing the arts sector. As noted in early parts (linked below), digital giving is growing at a faster rate than individual giving overall, thus it is critical for fundraising professionals to develop or continue to engage in new digital pathways. The findings and recommendations from the national survey are below with our full report available here or for download in the publications section linked above and organized by content category.

The research team distributed then evaluated a national survey to arts organizations with a goal to identify the current purpose, practice, and resources provided by institutions to pursue emerging digital fundraising pathways. Overall findings pointed to the fact that digital technologies are being deployed by a small percentage of institutions demonstrating a significant opportunity for growth in the sector.

Key Findings

 1.     Arts organizations located in eastern states have more experience in emerging digital fundraising tools than arts organizations in middle and western states.

2.     In general, the biggest barrier of using emerging digital tools is lack of experience.

3.     Small and mid-sized arts organizations have more issues with staffing and budget when trying to use emerging digital fundraising tools. Large arts organizations have issues with lack of experience and/or didn’t know the tools existed.

4.     58.1% of survey respondents said that they were not integrating their digital fundraising data into the CRM system. The reason behind that will be answered through the CRM system interviews and vendor case studies later in this report 

5.     Organizations with larger budget sizes tend to use more pathways overall for their fundraising.

6.     Organizations that were founded after 1960 have a higher adoption rate of emerging digital fundraising tools.

7.     Organizations, regardless of artistic discipline, share similar goals when using digital fundraising tools.

8.     The primary goal with using digital fundraising tools among all organizations, regardless of founding year is to acquire new donors.

9.     Arts organizations were using SMS, Facebook NP, and P2P mainly to test these tools, increase total contributed income and reach new donors, arts organizations were using Mobile Bidding to support special events and to engage current donors.

10.  More than half of the survey respondents that have an annual budget size of over $10 million pay a flat vendor fee when they use digital fundraising tools.

11.  Out of the four emerging digital pathways, Facebook NP is the most used digital fundraising tool and SMS is the least used digital fundraising tool.


After comparing the arts sector with the nonprofit sector overall, the research team recommends that the arts sector implement the following in order to utilize emerging digital fundraising pathways for greater effectiveness:

Increase Knowledge and Skill in Emerging Technologies

The survey findings suggest that lack of experience, lack of knowledge, and low numbers of fundraising staff are limitations to testing and implementing emerging digital fundraising tools in arts organizations.

  1. Work with your existing CRM / Ticketing vendor. Most arts organizations are not integrating their external data from technologies like digital fundraising tools into their CRM systems, even if their systems have the capability. The team recommends that arts organizations consult with their CRM system vendors to learn better ways utilize and integrate emerging fundraising pathways into these platforms.

  2.   Hire Digitally Savvy Fundraising Staff Also evident in this study, arts organizations may have staffing and budget barriers that inhibit them from testing and implementing emerging digital fundraising tools. Larger arts organizations don’t always have larger fundraising staff, so they also documented staffing issues. About one third of arts organizations with an annual budget size between $5 million to $25 million stated that they have only 1 to 5 staff in their fundraising departments. In a situation of chronic under-staffing, someone in a department needs to be hired for digital skills.

  3. Provide training for current staff. If lack of knowledge is a barrier, free or low-cost online training may be a simple solution to help staff members learn about digital strategies . Referencing Elizabeth Kane's AMT Lab article on professional development, “Professional development, much like human resources, is an often-overlooked area in the arts. It is assumed that these are luxuries of bigger firms and for-profit entities. Yet, technology has evened the playing field by allowing organizations of any size to find a simple, low-budget solution to professional development.  By improving employees’ growth opportunities, arts organizations can also improve their business capabilities.” There are websites like Lynda.com, Udemy.com and CodeAcademy.com that also cover across many digital topics. This would help small and mid-sized arts organizations raise money more effectively with digital fundraising tools while running on a smaller staff size. There are many free online resources about emerging digital fundraising tools as well as literature and guidelines for other digital strategies like NTEN, Techsoup, and Nonprofit Tech for Good.

  4. Share your stories. For those in the field that have already tested and implemented these technologies, the team recommends that they share their results with other organizations so that their peer arts organizations have a reference to from within in the sector for how to use them.   Institutions can ask for help from the Arts Management and Technology Lab or other entities for writing up case studies, if staffing is a barrier. 

Choose the Right Platforms

More than half of arts organizations in the survey answered that they are not integrating their external data from digital fundraising tools directly into their CRM systems. This can be due to concerns found in the CRM system interviews of data security, creation of duplicate constituent records, or even budgetary issues. Arts fundraising professionals should work collaboratively with their CRM data administrators and vendors in order to implement digital fundraising tools or other digital strategies that require integration.  This can lead to using current technological resources to their fullest capacity.

With that in mind, arts managers should also communicate with their CRM system vendors to learn more about opportunities for integrating digital fundraising tools. Some CRM system platforms offer webinars and resources on how to integrate with digital fundraising technologies. If they do not, it can be a dialogue that arts organizations can initiate with their CRM system vendors in order to pave a way for future developments.

Among three dominant CRM vendors in nonprofit arts organizations, Salesforce has the highest capability of integrating with external technologies. There are numerous CRM or Ticketing platforms available, and if an organization is looking for a new system, arts organizations should review its needs in order to choose the best platform that will accomplish their needs and goals. Arts managers can use resources like Idealware's Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits or AMT Lab’s Ticketing Survey for recommended digital platform features and functionalities.

Final Thoughts

If arts organizations follow the above recommendations, the sector will be better prepared and more informed about current digital practices that will help them improve their fundraising efforts and donor engagement. Having knowledge about these tools can help arts fundraisers start utilizing digital fundraising tools with more confidence, which can lead to more interest in prototyping newer technologies in the future. There are many emerging technologies available, and by following these recommendations, arts organizations can expect to run more efficiently as well as stay relevant to today’s digital world.

Part 1: Emerging Digital Paths for Individual Giving https://amt-lab.org/blog/2018/7/emerging-digital-paths-for-individual-giving-part-1-of-5

Part 2: SMS Fundraising

Part 3: Peer to Peer Fundraising

Part 4: Mobile Bidding