How to run a successful EOFY fundraising campaign

Need some tips on making an effective end of financial year pitch to your supporters? Twelve arts organisations from around the country share their advice.

As tax time draws near, many people are looking for ways to claim an extra few deductions on their annual tax return. For arts organisations with deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, end of financial year (EOFY) donations from friends and supporters can provide a valuable income stream if correctly marketed and monetised.

Here, a range of arts organisations from around the country offer their tips and advice for those in the sector who are new to running EOFY campaigns, or who are seeking to ramp up their activities in such a field. Happy campaigning!

Kate Mazoudier, Deputy General Manager, Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM)

‘In our experience, fundraising is most successful when you are talking about a real need to an already engaged audience. ANAM audiences and donors are so engaged and wonderful; we are incredibly fortunate to have their trust and support. So there’s little point in a scatter-gun (“spray and pray”) approach for us, it’s a waste of money and effort. For huge charities where the understanding of the need they are meeting is universal – like homelessness or humanitarian relief, for example – it makes sense to have a lift-out in The Age, but with our limited resources we focus our financial year campaigns on our specific audiences and describe a specific need. It is important to have consistent messaging in all of our channels online and in print, and it is important to be speaking to them early in the EOFY season – not to get caught in the crush at 30 June when everyone’s inbox is full of worthy asks!

‘Since 2020, ANAM’s EOFY campaigns have concentrated on supporting the mental and physical health of our young musicians. For these campaigns we interview our musicians and use real stories and real images. They are so talented, so dedicated to their craft, and they work so incredibly hard. What’s more, their performances give our audiences so much joy. They are the future of classical music in Australia, yet a happy and long career is not always a given. There can be many obstacles in the career path of a performing artist, so our focus is raising funds to support their physical well-being and mental health – to equip them with knowledge and skills to look after themselves and to know when to seek outside help.

‘The need is immediate, the issues are real and the funds raised go directly to paying for ANAM musicians’ physio sessions, psych appointments, flu shots, audiology tests and guest speakers on topics like nutrition, or performance nerves, or imposter syndrome. Our current EOFY campaign talks about the costs for each of these examples, but also offers a “free text” area for donors to choose their own sum. Sometimes the EOFY campaign elicits gifts from new donors, which is exciting, but more frequently it is a trigger for regular donors who give regardless of the campaign, every year at this time of year.’

Lisa Cahill, CEO, Australian Design Centre (ADC)

‘Our supporters love a story! An artist telling their story in their own words about a great experience with ADC motivates people to want to be a part of that story. We love our supporters and tell them frequently how important they are to ADC’s story. Over nearly 60 years there have been lots of incredibly generous people who have made an EOFY donation. It’s a win-win for the donor, for ADC and for the artists. We couldn’t do the work we do without this generosity of spirt and, of course, the cash!’

Chris Drummond, Artistic Director, and Karen Wilson, Executive Director, Brink Productions

‘We’ve had some great success over the years trying various options and combinations of direct (snail) mail with personalised letters and flier inserts, e-fliers, coffee catch-ups and social campaigns. Inevitably, the strongest fundraising years have been in the wake of our most successful shows or building momentum for truly ambitious work. Audiences feel a deep kinship to the artists who have made works they love and, in our case, it has forged a genuine loyalty that has lasted for many years. We have learned the hard way that the EOFY drive is less successful when asking donors to support “business as usual” – there needs to be something different or specific in the ask. One very successful year we made a three-part video campaign about some hapless actors roped into being part of the Brink donation drive. It was funny and silly and very direct in terms of its “ask” and garnered lots of hits and strong donations. We’re doing a similar campaign now to get Hew Parham’s Symphonie de la Bicyclette to Europe, with animated shorts of Hew cycling through various countries on his way to France and getting into also sorts of trouble. It’s going really well so far, with four weeks to go!’

Read: 10 tips on asking for money from those who give it

Kate Gould, CEO/Artistic Director, Brisbane Powerhouse

‘In attracting EOFY donations to Brisbane Powerhouse I paint a picture of our vision for the organisation. I like to show how our vision connects specifically to audiences and gives back to our community. Hopefully our words spark the imagination; we are in the creative industries after all. And, importantly, I give our audiences a little scorecard of our achievements over the past year. The goal being that prospective donors can see how their donation would be put to good work over the coming year.’

Simon Abrahams, Creative Director/CEO, Melbourne Fringe

‘For Melbourne Fringe, simultaneously making people laugh, demonstrating why the organisation needs support and asking our audiences really clearly and boldly for an EOFY donation has proved to be a really successful strategy. We employ artists to work with us on the campaign, which really does get to the heart of what Melbourne Fringe is and why our work matters. We support artists, we break the rules and our work matters. This year we worked with comedians the Game Boys on a campaign, which has been remarkably successful already.’

Rachel Francis, General Manager/Acting CEO, Merrigong Theatre Company

‘In my experience, the best way to encourage our audience to make an EOFY donation is by firstly thanking them for their spend throughout the year, whether that be on tickets or donations. We value our supporters and want them to know that they are appreciated. We also let them know where their money has gone, which local artists were developed, which programs were supported, which shows would have been nothing without their contribution. We also make it super-easy for them to contribute through a focused EOFY campaign containing a direct link to payment options. We try to inspire potential donors to generously contribute and be an arts champion!’

Paul McMahon, Queensland State Manager, Musica Viva Australia

‘In my experience, early planning allows large arts organisations like Musica Viva Australia to be on the front foot in the months leading to 30 June. Many people are contemplating their tax implications during this time and an effective, proactive approach allows our supporters to consider the multi-pronged facets of our work. Music speaks to individuals in many ways, be that main stage concerts, music education in schools, the commissioning of new work, or the development of young and emerging artists. A personal approach and upfront, clear messaging on how EOFY donations support our various programs gives benefactors a sense of ownership and lets them know that they are valued.’

Steven Alderton, CEO, National Art School (NAS)

‘The National Art School’s EOFY campaign is largely digital and designed to reach all our subscribers and on-campus visitors, as well as our existing supporters. It informs our friends and followers that philanthropy is crucial to the sustainability of NAS as a not-for-profit organisation and educational institution. Communication includes EDMs and a far-reaching social medial campaign, as well as targeted conversations with several long-term committed supporters. For 2023, we spoke to current students to hear what they find most important about their education at NAS and being part of our community. It is the voices of our students that underpin our campaign. All funds raised support the creative pathways for our students and graduate emerging artists.’

Julie Moralee, CEO, Restless Dance Theatre

‘All our stories come from the heart. When we are asking our audiences to support us, we strive to share stories that inspire, empower and bring joy to anyone seeing them. Knowing that their donations make real, tangible change is what motivates us to make our ask. This time of year is the perfect time to show our gratitude and to shine the spotlight on the incredible Restless artists and show just how far donors’ support goes to enable us to make distinctive, award-winning dance theatre.’

Read: Top 10 tax claims for artists and creative professionals

Nadja Kostich, Artistic Director, and Thomas Caldwell, General Manager, St Martins Youth Arts Centre

‘We still feel pretty new in the world of individual giving. It wasn’t something integrated into the company day to day. Like all small to mediums, we are stretched enough with applying, reporting and acquitting grants, making artworks and, at St Martins, also running a workshop program plus our venue. However, we realised, after the COVID damage plus the gaping hole left by the loss of Federal funding, it was vital that we got up to speed pretty quickly. That resulted in an EOFY online giving campaign last year where we raised around seven times what we have in the past and this year we are looking to go way, way beyond that. It’s daunting, but in sharing our story and why we believe it’s important for St Martins to thrive, we feel like we are getting stronger, and people have started to get on board with the message, which is super encouraging. Regardless of government funding, we realise this aspect will have to stay, so we’d better take it on and enjoy it.

‘We have learned that we have to let people know that we need money and that we then have to directly ask those people for money. But besides letting our audience know that, we have also been ongoingly working on building a community around us, which has been quite a delight. This helps us get over the awkwardness of asking, but also it’s fun and many of our audiences have responded warmly to this approach. We get to have real, human exchanges, find out who our friends are, and meet up with new people who we didn’t know had a love for St Martins and our work with young people. We’ve been doing everything from contacting alumni and parents of kids currently doing our workshops, to inviting the neighbours to an afternoon tea, to activating our Board who have brought in their contacts to approach people in the private sector, government and industry to join our quest. We’re about to launch our next online campaign, so wish us luck, come along to our next do and don’t forget to click the donate button!’

Caitlin Comerford, Artistic Director, Stompin

‘At Stompin, because there are just two of us in the office and no marketing “team”, we find the best way to ask for and receive donations is through direct requests or personal contact. An in-person chat, phone call or private message usually has the most impact. Video promotion can sometimes give enough insight into what we do to pull on the heartstrings, or getting the Stompers themselves talking about what Stompin is and why it matters.’

Nuala Furtado, CEO, The Substation

‘At this time of year, there are so many donation requests in our email inboxes and on social media. Here at The Substation, we figure you need to make it clear who your organisation impacts and how meaningful that is. We’ve been doing some work behind the scenes to better articulate how the work that we do here impacts our community, from artists to audiences. We’ve decided that tracking an artist’s interaction with the organisation, as a sort of case study, will give a better sense of the long-term and intricate ways our work transpires.’

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