I had made a suggestion to the community board we partner with on our presenting season that they think about changing the names of their giving categories. My rationale was that the current categories are strongly oriented toward classical music, but that genre only compromises 10%-20% of the programming in any season.
They asked me to provide some suggestions at the board meeting in August. Since I want to have names that give a broader, more diverse sense of the type of programming we partner on, I have been jotting ideas down in a pretty stream of consciousness manner.
At one point, I realized some of the terms were likely unfamiliar and might require explanation. I considered that could be a good thing. If positioned correctly, it might help donors to more closely identify with the work we do.
By this point, I was thinking that what I working on might make for a good blog post so when I say, “help donors to more closely identify with the work we do,” I mean all of us.
That is when it occurred to me that a revamp in donor categories to include a description might be another area that could contribute to the effort of shifting focus toward the donor/audience that Trevor O’Donnell advocates for with arts marketing.
To a degree, this idea partially resembles the “Achievement Unlocked” motif of video games and some of the categories and stretch goals on Kickstarter. I am also pretty sure I have seen some arts organizations who employ this basic concept.
In no particular order, here is some of what popped into my head for a handful of the terms on the list I have assembled. Some or none of these may get used as inspiration strikes me.
Green Room – This is where all the energy gathers before exploding on to stage
Screaming Fan – With you cheering us on, we never run out of energy.
Stage Manager – Though you are behind the scenes, nothing runs smoothly without you
Running Crew – You do the heavy lifting and make sure the spotlight focuses on everything great on stage.
Comedy Team – Like Abbot and Costello, Stiller and Meara, Key and Peele, we do our best work when we have a great partner supporting us.
It occurs to me that if fund raising efforts were approached with a sense of the next level of giving being an “achievement” to unlock, it might encourage giving from younger people and lead to increased giving over time.
What that would look like is a lot of categories at the lower end of the scale at very small intervals ($1-$25, $26-$50, $50-$100, $100-$200) so that people felt they were progressing quickly through (or skipping) levels early in their giving history. At the higher end of the scale, the intervals between levels of giving would be much greater ($2500-$5000, $5000-$10000) which pretty much reflects the process of advancement in games.
If anyone has ideas for category names, descriptions, etc, I would love to hear them.