Here’s Your Pre-Season Checklist
Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, PatronManager.
With Labor Day now behind us and summer winding down the fall arts season is about to begin. Hopefully, you have had an opportunity to pry yourself away from your desk for a much-needed vacation. Now that you are back in the office do you and your team have a plan in place to have a great season? If you are behind or just feel like it, you need to move quickly. Here are some very important things you can do to strike out on the right foot.
As an executive, one of your most important tasks is to clearly set and manage expectations. Internally, your board of directors and your team need a stable leader. You, in turn, need a board and team that you can rely on to be responsible for the key metrics of your organization and exercise the authority to achieve them.
Begin With Your Board
Your board is the foundation of the organization. They serve four very important functions: Sponsor, Ambassador, Governor, and Consultant. In order to execute in these four areas, they must be informed. While you may have gotten their buy-in on the events in your season and they may have unanimously approved your budget, have you taken the time to carefully outline how the organization intends to achieve the approved outcomes? Many times these kinds of money conversations get buried in the finance committee or split between several different committees that don’t understand the full scope. It is important that the board realize and commit to two critical concepts:
- Their most important job is to help the organization raise the money needed to support the organization’s activities.
- As ambassadors, their ability to evangelize to their network is critical to cultivating new ticket buyers and potential donors.
In most instances, if you are offering subscriptions, you are past your renewal period and are marketing to first-time subscribers. If you fell short on subscriptions you may have to adjust your single ticket numbers. However, just rolling over the dollars into your single ticket campaign without a strategy is not a recipe for success.
Take a look at your marketing plan with your team. Ask yourself these important questions:
- Do you have the time required prior to each event to adequately reach your audience?
- Have you thoroughly studied your audience to understand where they are connecting with your message?
- What marketing channels have you committed your resources? Have you carefully crafted your message?
Also, what method do you have to track your progress to goal? Do you have metrics in place that allow you to track how you are performing against your booking curve? Dashboards can be important tools to track your progress. If you need to scale back your earned income expectations, now is the time to recalibrate.
Cultivate the Person, Not the Purse
Building strong relationships are the key to happy donors and successful donations. While cultivating your current donors may be your priority, are you listening to what your future prospects are telling you? Just as acquiring a new single-ticket buyer is the most important and most expensive part of your business, acquiring new donors is likewise critical to your success in both the short and long term. Your next major donor is interacting with your organization. As you prepare, keep these thoughts in mind:
- What percentage of your subscriber base are also donors? If it is below 30% you have some work to-do. Instead of just sending off a campaign to try and get this group to give why not take some time to learn about them? Why aren’t they donating to your organization? Have you ever asked them what might change their mind?
- With subscribers becoming a smaller and smaller portion of many organization’s bases when was the last time you looked at single ticket buyers that are also annual fund donors? There are opportunities to cultivate this group in non-traditional ways.
- Volunteers are an excellent group for potential cultivation. Try building a campaign to bring these volunteers closer to your organization through committee or board positions. Remember, a volunteer may have an extensive social network that can be valuable to your organization.
By creating a checklist for you and your team you can stay on top of those things that grow your business. Having great programming for your community is an excellent first step. Make sure you back it up with the goals, metrics, and processes that will ensure a successful season.