Museums and cultural institutions are tasked with preserving the histories of an area for future generations. The normal operational costs of running a cultural institution coupled with significant loss of revenue associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is making the financial aspect of museum operation increasingly difficult. How can small museums and cultural institutions plan to achieve long-term financial stability?
General fundraising Resources
A museum’s fundraising strategy can help boost donations as well as generate loyal donors. These resources focus on building effective fundraising strategies, skills, and ensuring donor retention.
Ethical considerations for fundraising
The way cultural institutions go about fundraising can bring up ethical implications. The resources provided in this section are intended to ensure cultural institutions are financially ethical and accountable with donated funds.
Creating a legacy giving program
Creating a legacy giving program can ensure the long-term financial stability of a museum. Legacy giving, also known as planned giving, is where individuals give a donation in their will that will be given to the organisation upon the donor’s death. End-of-life planning can be a sensitive subject, and the resources below describe how to begin to build a legacy giving program for your organisation.
A planned giving program is something all nonprofits should consider starting. Planned giving programs – sometimes called legacy giving – help donors make plans to leave money or assets to a nonprofit at a future date, both during their lifetimes and after death in their will.
Finding ways to have conversations and encouraging dialogue with your members and donors has never been more important than it is right now.
There are an array of grants available to cultural institutions through federal, provincial, and municipal governments. These grants are sometimes managed and disbursed by heritage associations (for example the CMA, BCMA or Heritage BC). The BCMA keeps a running list of grant opportunities on our website. This list is by no means exhaustive but provides a jumping off point for organisations looking for new grant opportunities.
A grant application usually requires gathering information about your organisation and writing summaries of your project/funding needs. Although the process is not usually complicated, it can be time-consuming for smaller institutions. Resources below are intended to aid in writing compelling and successful grant applications.
Lucidea has partnered with Rachael Woody of Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC to create a set of invaluable grant writing resources. Our complete toolkit includes a grant directory, case studies of successful grant projects, and a workbook with plug-and-play grant project templates.
A foundation is a grant-giving organisation that operates with the purpose of giving out money, in the form of grants to other non-profits. Each foundation usually has a mandate for what kinds of organisations or projects they are looking to fund. Applications to foundations are often similar to grant applications. The BCMA lists a small number of foundations on our grant opportunities page, though there are many more foundations in Canada that donate to arts and culture institutions
Many businesses have corporate giving programs that give resources to support local organisations and projects. These programs offer money or products to local organisations with the aim of boosting the public’s image and perception of the business giving the donation. Corporate giving usually comes in one of three forms – funding, sponsorship, or in-kind donations. Businesses with a giving program usually have an application page on their website which will look similar to a grant application. It usually takes a minimum of 8 weeks for corporations to respond to a request, therefore it is prudent to apply well in advance of the start of any projects or events.
Many large companies have granting programs to fund community organisations and projects. Below is a list of businesses in Canada with corporate funding programs.
Corporations will give money in exchange for visibility and promotion during a community event. Sponsorship is a good option for larger community events you may host where there will be public visibility for your sponsors. Sponsorship applications for larger corporations are usually available on the company website, smaller businesses can be contacted directly (via phone or email).
Corporations and local businesses may give products in exchange for promotion. These products could be items that a museum needs to operate, items for a special event, or even products for fundraising purposes (i.e. items for a raffle basket). Larger companies will usually have a form on their website where you can apply for in-kind gifts, whereas smaller businesses can be contacted directly (via phone or email).
Good financial information is critical to the effective management of all businesses, including museums. Effective financial management benefits all aspects of the facility’s operation by providing relevant information to the board, management and staff. These resources detail best practices for financial management and provide free financial management software for cultural institutions.
The intent of this module is to document the fiduciary responsibility of museum management by explaining basic principles and standards of financial management.
Financial Sustainability Resources
The BCMA previously hosted a financial sustainability week which provided many resources detailing alternative revenue streams for museums such as gift shops, cafes, investing, show business, and more!