This article was provided by and expresses the views of Nancy Bikson, Managing Director at Chapel & York, a partner firm of the Beacon Gainer private client advisory services group.
So many wealth advisors and their clients are involved with arts and cultural organisations. How can we best help them survive this crisis – fundraising from their supporters worldwide could be the answer.
Many arts and cultural organisations have seen their income fall dramatically in this crisis and fundraising has been a lifeline. International fundraising has been – or could be – adopted as part of that activity by cultural organisations, but some are missing a trick.
Some, such as the National Trust through its US entity, the Royal Oak Foundation, are old hands and have been reaping the benefits for years. Their approaches take many forms: asking for support from foreign visitors, applying to foreign trusts and foundations, setting up overseas ‘Friends Of’ entities and sometimes staffing them.
Yet some international fundraising efforts are very simple and can start small. They could include something as simple as using a back catalogue of performances online (such as the Met Opera’s successful nightly opera broadcasts) and asking for a contribution by those watching it during lockdown. Another is to ensure that visitors to your organisation or those who attend your events know that if they are from abroad, they can support you tax-effectively from their country. More ambitious approaches can be linked to overseas touring (when it’s finally permitted again) or having an ongoing and extensive fundraising programme in a different country.
Many organisations will appeal to international audiences because of the significance and quality of what they produce, what they look after, or where they are. They can channel into the past memories and experiences of their overseas audiences, many of them repeat attenders.
For these organisations – and this category actually applies to a very large range of museums and galleries, performing arts venues and companies – international fundraising should really be considered. Then, the question is whether international fundraising means encouraging visitors or audiences from abroad to give locally, through a website or development office, or whether a fundraising campaign or ongoing effort is undertaken abroad. Or, of course, any combination of these.
What absolutely doesn’t work internationally is to assume that those you are fundraising from will react in the same way as local supporters. Cultural differences, tax differences and legal differences must all be considered. And most importantly: why any arts and cultural donor or sponsor overseas should support a foreign organisation as opposed to something more local to them. This means stepping out of local prejudices and looking at yourself as an outsider would see you.
All this means that above all an organisation needs to look carefully at its Case for Support to ensure it reflects the interests and sensibilities of those abroad as well as those at home. It may need to be changed for different countries or regions as well as different types of donors.
And in those markets/countries where there are tax benefits for donations which support foreign organisations, it is important to ensure that an organisation can offer all the tax benefits available in those countries.
This usually means giving to a local organisation which supports the foreign one. The most straightforward way to do so is to be hosted in the country by a local charity. Chapel & York has Foundations in 6 major markets – the US, UK, HK, Singapore, Switzerland and the Netherlands in order to do so but of course setting up a dedicated entity is always a possibility for those cases where it is appropriate.
Fundraising internationally can be vastly rewarding, not just in terms of donations but in terms of engaging loyal and sustainable constituencies of supporters who will often come back to support an organisation time and again. Chapel & York will be hosting a unique online conference, International Fundraising Across Borders over 3 days with 26 sessions to discuss just that and we invite you to invite your clients/organisations you support to find out more at www.chapel-york.com. A specialist session on International Fundraising for Arts, Culture and Heritage Organisations goes live 20th November.
Nancy Bikson is Managing Director of Chapel & York