6.3: Securing Resources
Next to my family, certainly the musical activity is the most important thing in my life. New Horizons Music participant
Start by emphasizing revenue sources that make your program self-sustaining and offer a significant return on investment. You must be positioned to take advantage of opportunities, but you must also create opportunities by networking and “friend-raising.” Like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, look for revenue sources of different sizes and shapes that match what you want to accomplish. Then, gather evidence of impact and make your case logically and clearly. With perseverance, flexibility, creativity, and a little bit of luck, you can put all of the pieces together to support your work in enhancing older adults’ quality of life.
This section addresses:
Exploring Revenue Sources
The key to financial sustainability is diversity among revenue sources and types. For a larger and more established organization, having a variety of programs targeted at different populations positions you to take advantage of different funding opportunities. Whether you are a novice or an expert at generating revenue, be flexible, adaptable, and opportunistic.
Before devising a plan, consider these revenue options:
- Charge participants or attendees by selling tickets, charging tuition, and/or assessing membership fees.
- Pay attention to prices of comparable programs.
- Strategize how to keep prices as low as possible.
- Decide whether or not to develop a multitiered pricing structure.
- Decide whether or not to charge.
- Decide what attendees and participants receive for their money.
- Consider whether requiring a membership fee increases members’ buy-in to your organization and/or program and enhances its value in the minds of participants.
- Decide whether to offer scholarships or financial aid to keep the program accessible to all.
Examples of charging participants:
- The Levine School of Music charges tuition; older adults pay 70 to 75 percent less than other students do. Prices align with nearby lifelong learning institutes and other comparable programs. The school makes up for the lower tuition with an increase in volume. Older adult classes, while still small enough to be effective, are sometimes twice as large as those with younger participants.
- New Horizons Music programs charge approximately $150 per semester depending on the location, number of weekly sessions, and charges for comparable programs in the community.
- The New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra charges $200 for members under age 62, $85 for members over age 62, and $150 for members who also volunteer.
- Creative Aging Cincinnati offers facility memberships to all retirement communities, senior centers, adult day care centers, and nursing homes in the community. Membership entitles a facility to attend all large-group programs (20 to 25 each year) and to schedule 6 to 12 in-facility programs a year. Periodic special incentives include guaranteeing attendance at a particular large-group program or putting the facility’s logo on printed materials.
- Contract for services with an arts organization, senior center, residential facility, or department of aging services or school system.
- Develop fees on a sliding scale based on budget.
- Charge for-profits more than nonprofits.
- Subsidize nonprofits in part with the higher fees paid by for-profits.
- Be flexible in how the fees are paid.
- Be sure to incorporate all expenses in fees unless grants are subsidizing the program.
Examples of fee structures:
- The Senseabilities program of Elders Share the Arts charges $600 for staff only (half day), $1,200 for staff only (full day), and $1,000 for staff and elders (half day).
- The Intergeneration Orchestra of Omaha charges sites $300 a performance. Sites pay in cash, through advertising in the orchestra’s printed program, from taking up a collection at the door, or by a combination of these methods. If the orchestra has to travel to perform, transportation costs are added to the fee.
- The Center for Elders and Youth in the Arts charges nonprofits $4,000 to $5,000 a year and for-profits $7,000 to $8,000 a year. Fees include costs associated with high-quality exhibitions and performances.
- Apply for grants and contributions from federal, state, and local government agencies, united arts funds, foundations, and individuals.
- Allow for a long lead time, perhaps as many as eight months between application and notification.
- Consider whether the time and complexity of applying to a public entity such as a local or state arts agency is worth the potential return. Instead, consider using the common application form from the Foundation Center.
- Consult with program staff at local and state arts and aging agencies, foundations, and corporations before you write your application and during the writing. Their job is to help you succeed. Ask them to advise on which program to apply to, and encourage them to collaborate internally across program areas.
- Apply for your first grants from foundations and public agencies that fund only in your community, state, or region.
- Seek funding from family foundations.
- Attend grant panels convened by local and state agencies whether or not they are reviewing your application. If they are reviewing your application, bring an older adult participant in your program with you.
- Apply in an entry-level category such as special projects for a modest amount of money to gain experience in grant writing. After a couple of applications, submit an application for more money in a different category, such as general operating support.
- Ask participants to contribute to your program. The most effective method is a face-to-face request. Be sensitive to differences in resources; honor contributors regardless of the dollar amount that they give; use humor; and demonstrate good taste.
- Ask participants’ family members and friends for support. Make it easy for them to do so through a targeted, printed appeal or in your printed materials. In addition, solicit audience members in person who attend the community sharing of the art.
- Don’t be reluctant to ask for bequests or for gifts in honor of participants who have passed away.
Examples of individual solicitations:
- Kairos Dance Theatre includes a tear sheet at the bottom of its general information brochure.
- The Intergeneration Orchestra of Omaha used bequests from members to establish an endowment as a way for friends and family members to honor someone’s memory. Contributors are invited to donate at six levels, from $1 to more than $1,000. The endowment awards two annual scholarships of $100, one to an older adult musician and one to a younger student who might otherwise not be able to pay the tuition. In five years, the endowment has grown to $10,000, with an ultimate goal of $25,000.
- Seek in-kind contributions from corporations, businesses, other nonprofits, and members of the public. These contributions typically happen quickly, with just a phone call or a letter, and can include drinks and food for special events, frames, floral centerpieces at galas, items or services for auctions or prizes, printing and photocopying, and art supplies.
- One very helpful gift is physical space; churches often are home to arts and aging organizations. Municipal recreation facilities are another option. Kairos Dance Theatre, for example, trades workshops for space in a community park building. Make sure you know in advance exactly how your sponsors want to be recognized for their contributions.
- Explore other revenue sources.
- Sell advertising space in printed programs, calendars, note cards, and art created by participants. Sales raise both money and public awareness.
- Seek a line item in the municipal, county, or state budget from your elected representative. A line item is not a stable revenue source and is most appropriate for a special program or one-time event.
- Hold special events such as benefit concerts and fundraising parties. Like sales, events raise both money and public awareness. Events, however, require significant time to plan and are often expensive to produce because glitz and glamour are hard to control. You have to decide if strengthening relationships and creating visibility—rather than raising money—are a large enough return on investment.
The flip side of raising revenue is controlling expenses:
- Recycle supplies. The Center for Elders and Youth in the Arts uses the same materials: three different sizes of mats and frames for the visual art created in its programs.
- Join a community service coalition, nonprofit coalition, or chamber of commerce to get lower rates on health insurance and group purchasing privileges.
- Have a virtual office. All you need is a laptop and cell phone.
Creating a Budget
To create your budget, be as comprehensive as possible. Make sure that income projections are realistic and a plan for raising the money is in place. Research actual costs, which vary by community and artistic discipline and are informed by the activities and instructional design. For a new organization or program, include start-up costs such as computer and phone equipment. In general, be pragmatic about the program’s scope, expenses, and revenue. Be “right-sized”: Keep financial needs minimal and in line with what you want to accomplish.
While a budget is a budget, whether your organization is focused on arts, aging, animals, or airplanes, some budget categories are unique to the arts (see Appendix 3 for a typical budget). Condense, expand, or adjust the following categories to fit your needs:
- Personnel—Administrative: Executive, education, development, marketing, and administrative and support staff
- Personnel—Artistic: Artistic director, conductor, designers, artists, and similar staff
- Employee Benefits: Social security, retirement, and insurance (health, dental, short- and long-term disability, and life)
- Outside Artistic Fees and Services: Contractors such as artists, set, lighting, costume or properties designers, picture framers, artistic directors, and conductors
- Other Outside Fees and Services: Contractors such as graphic or Web designers; business, media, marketing, fundraising, public relations, or planning consultants; florists; and caterers.
- Publications/Dues: Advertising, subscriptions, royalties, and membership fees or dues
- Supplies: Office and artistic supplies; gifts and awards; and food and beverages not from a caterer
- Printing: Photocopying and printing for your newsletter, marketing and promotional pieces, programs, and other materials
- Postage/Shipping: Mailing marketing pieces, newsletters, and invitations; shipping artwork and sets
- Transportation: Vehicle rental, gas, and mileage; local transportation; air and train tickets
- Phone/Communication: Local, long-distance, wireless, and Internet provider
- Equipment: Telephone system, cell phones, vehicles, copiers, postage meters, computers, server, and other depreciable equipment
- Maintenance: Facility and equipment
- Contingency Fund: For emergencies or unexpected opportunities
- Rent: Office, rehearsal, performance, and meeting space
- Insurance: General liability, workers’ compensation, vehicle, and directors’ and officers’ liability
- Corporate and Business Support
- Foundation Support
- Individual Contributions
- Government Grants
- In-kind Contributions
- Goods and Materials
Developing a Plan
Next, create a resource development plan in consultation with stakeholders, particularly partners, staff, and board members. Multiple perspectives and ideas strengthen the plan, and those who participate in its creation are more invested in success and more likely to help.
Basic Planning Principles
- Emphasize revenue sources such as fees for service or tuition, membership fees, or tickets.
- Consider the return on investment (ROI) of your resource development strategies, particularly sales and special events. Be sure that the money raised does exceeds the value of the time spent fundraising. Some strategies are more effective than others. In 2006, for example, individuals gave 83 percent of all charitable donations in the United States, according to the Giving USA Foundation.
- Align the plan with personal and organizational values. You have to decide whether to accept money from a corporation with policies or practices with which you don’t agree. It is not a negative thing to base a decision on the revenue-generating potential of the program, audience, or grant. Just be thoughtful and deliberate.
Integrate a variety of strategies into your resource development plan. Consider these possibilities:
- Affiliate with a nonprofit organization that will donate administrative support.
- Raise or allocate funds to hire a business consultant to review the budget and suggest a plan for sustaining and growing the program.
- Enlist board members to help with fundraising, and look for prospective board members with this expertise. Be sure they understand this expectation before they commit to serving the organization.
- Make “friendraising” part of fundraising. Cultivate and network with trustees and staff of potential funders at social, church, community, and political events; at arts events and performances; and through stakeholders, friends, neighbors, family, colleagues, and elected officials. Most people give to people they know.
- Do joint fundraising with your partners. Funders often respond positively to a collaborative approach.
- Ask participants and their family members to help secure in-kind donations.
- Approach large nonprofits or for-profits in aging services to support special events that will attract public attention.
- Collaborate with higher education and apply together to aging-related and healthcare corporations and foundations, which tend to have an academic orientation.
- Invite current and potential funders to stop by classes or workshops and attend events. Seeing is believing.
- Acknowledge funders publicly when they attend events, in printed materials, and on your Web site.
- Devote money and time to producing high-quality promotional materials, which not only demonstrate value to funders, but also attract new participants and supporters and documents the program for evaluation and posterity.
- Invest in a grant writer or advisor.
- Enhance applications with support letters from funders, participants, experts in the field, partners, and others.
- Try out a great idea to see if it works, and then seek funding. Money often follows programming.
Foundation and Corporate Grantseeking
If your resource development plan includes grants from foundations or corporations, be sure that their giving priorities match your project. Follow these steps:
- Do your homework.
- Show that you respect the organization and its program officers by learning everything you can about the giving program: What is the mission and goals? Who is on the board? What kinds of gifts have they given before? What is the average donation? What kind of outcomes do they look for? Do they like to partner with other giving sources? What is the grant cycle?
- Find a connection to someone associated with the foundation or corporation.
- It is almost impossible to get a proposal read, let alone funded, if you do not have a relationship with someone associated with the foundation. Chances are you know a board member or a previous grantee who can open doors for you.
- Follow guidelines.
- If a foundation or corporation has published guidelines, it’s important to follow them. Never simply change the name on the top of an old proposal and send it to a new organization.
- Create a clear and realistic proposal.
- Show that you have given thought to the program’s structure and feasibility. If you propose doing a Broadway-scale production with your theater group, no one will fund you. Remember to demonstrate benefits and outcomes.
- Teach others in the community what you have learned by doing this arts program.
- Sharing knowledge with others will maximize the foundation or corporation’s resources. You might suggest holding a half-day conference to show your arts program in action and teach attendees your methods.
- Follow through.
- Do what you say you’ll do. If you find that you need to change course in the middle of a grant-supported program, let the foundation officer know right away and explain why the changes are necessary. The foundation officer is interested in learning from your experience. Write a thorough final report, and keep in touch with your foundation officer after the project is complete to let him or her know how your facility has continued the work and still feels the positive impact of their support.75
Making the Case
Whether you are asking for an in-kind donation from a business, discussing an individual contribution with an older adult participant, or writing an application for a public agency, foundation, or corporation, design your proposal to follow this progression:
- Identify a need. What is going on in the community or your organization that requires action?
- Propose a solution. What are you going to do about this need? What actions, specifically, are you going to take?
- Describe the impact. How will your actions change participants?
- Plan evaluation. How will you know whether your actions have changed participants? What qualitative and quantitative evidence will you amass and how?
Appendix 3 includes an example of a successful proposal.
Each funder will respond to a different rationale. In general,
- Intergenerational programs appeal to education funders.
- Programs that build community through the arts appeal to arts funders.
- Programs that address the social, physical, and mental health of older adults appeal to healthcare funders.
As your rationale, begin with the benefits of arts participation to older adults. Then consider the following tips:
- Ask for what you need.
- Have confidence in your ability to improve older adults’ quality of life.
- Make sure your mission statement is clear and concise.
- Cite research and phrases from medical journals to enhance the credibility and seriousness of your work.
- Stress the importance of purposeful, creative activity to the health of older adults.
- Explain community arts to potential funders so that they have realistic expectations of your program.
- Flaunt your experience and education. Titles matter to aging services funders: if you have a Ph.D., M.S.W., or any graduate degree, mention it in your application.
- If the funder is interested in lifelong learning, discuss the results of research on the brains of older adults.
- If the funder is interested in mental health, discuss how arts participation increases social engagement.
- If the grant is for an artistic project, discuss how the participation of older adults enhances the art form.
- Use key phrases to convey what you do and why you do it:
- With decades of experience and knowledge, older people are an underutilized resource in the community.
- We are a participatory dance theater for traditionally underserved audiences.
- We are accessible to well and frail older adults.
- We have intergenerational community programs.
- We serve X number of people.
- Our performers span four generations.
- We have received local and national recognition.
- We do pioneering work in both intergenerational dance and the emerging field of creative aging.
- We help older Americans live independently longer through high-level physical activity, community connection, and artistic development.
- The arts sustain spirit and soul.
- The arts help older adults remain whole people as they age.
- You never outgrow your need for art.
- Everybody is aging or knows somebody who is.
- We meet the needs of the one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States.
- If all you have is a meal, your life is fairly empty.
A major challenge in resource development for the arts and aging field is its multiple focuses. It straddles two worlds—arts and health or social services—and a third world—education—if the program is intergenerational. It is difficult to be competitive in any one world unless you confidently and effectively communicate your role in enhancing older adults’ quality of life.
Arts and aging programs may also face these challenges:
- Performances in long-term care facilities are invisible to the public and funders because the care of older adults is largely hidden in our society.
- The arts are not an option in grant guidelines for health and older adults.
- Some foundations focus on the number of people served rather than on the depth of impact.
- Many funders subscribe to the traditional definition of the arts (artistic excellence) as opposed to community arts.
- Funders may want additional studies or research to prove efficacy when you already have quality information.
- Some communities and states have few foundations and corporations.
- Some funders don’t respect older adults as artists.
- In a year with an election or a natural disaster, there is more competition for funds.
- Board members require significant preparation and encouragement for fundraising.
- Health and social service funders often emphasize life-and-death issues for older adults such as food, shelter, medicine, and medical equipment.
Key Points about Resource Development
- Ensure that you have a diversity of funding sources.
- Strive to be self-sustaining through program and membership fees, tuition, ticket sales, and other revenue.
- Make your budget comprehensive, carefully considering all potential expenses and allowing sufficient time to research actual costs.
- Be right-sized.
- Pitch funders by identifying the need, proposing a solution, describing impact, and planning the evaluation.
- Match your project with funders’ priorities.
- Ask for what you need.
- Emphasize how your program benefits participants.
- Understand challenges so you can overcome or work around them.