RESOURCE ARTICLES & TIPS
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- It’s About Freedom of Thought: Why Arts Education is a Civil Rights Issue
Posted on ArtsBlog by Anthony Brandt, 3-15-2012
Access to arts education is one of the civil rights issues of our time. I’d like to use brain science to explain why. Our brains operate using two types of behavior: automated and mediated. Automated behavior puts a premium on reliability and efficiency. The brain achieves this by pruning: It streamlines the neural circuitry required to complete a task. Automated behavior can be innate, like breathing, or learned, like recognizing the alphabet.
- Helping Nonprofits Find Board Members on LinkedIn
Meg Garlinghouse, 9/17/12
At LinkedIn, we believe connecting the right talent with the right opportunity has the potential to change the world. In many ways, this is at the heart of what we do as a business. Since the beginning, it has been part of our culture to identify ways we can leverage what we do as a business and apply it to the social sector. Today, we are proud to announce LinkedIn Board Connect, a program that helps nonprofit leaders find high quality professionals to join their boards.
- Commentary: What's the right size for a nonprofit board?
Jan Masaoka, Blue Avocado blog, 4/1/12
What's the right number of people to have on the board? We're tempted to answer: "17. That's the average board size in the United States so it must be right." Actually, the real answer is "It depends." What does the right board size depend on? Here are some real-life answers....
- Commentary: How to identify the best planned-giving donor prospects
Timothy D. Logan, Philanthropy Journal, 10/28/11
When I talk with clients about planned giving, the question that I am asked most often, and the one that is the most important to answer for your program, is: Which of my donors are the best planned-giving prospects? When you consider analyzing your [donor database] for planned giving, you should consider two things: Identifying the most likely planned-giving prospects; and controlling your planned-giving direct-marketing costs. Many clients choose a data-analysis package or a scoring service. In my opinion, using these services alone represents a "quick fix." Sound planned-giving data analysis is built on three levels: Giving analysis; enhanced data scoring; and segmentation.
- As economy rebounds, nonprofits anticipate more staff turnover
GrantPros website, 3/25/12
Findings from the 2012 national Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey indicate that more nonprofit organizations are adding staff and expect to see changes in the voluntary turnover rates of their employees. These findings suggest that the nonprofit sector should to be more focused on retention practices than it is currently.
- Commentary: European arts spending cuts have an effect on U.S. arts
Larry Rohter, The New York Times, 3/25/12
Europe's economic problems, and the austerity programs meant to address them, are forcing arts institutions there to curtail programs, tours and grants. As a result, some ensembles are scaling down their productions and trying to raise money from private donors, some in the United States, potentially putting them in competition with American arts organizations.
- Commentary: How social media fundraising compares to email fundraising
Ehren Foss, HelpAttack blog, 2/7/12
During the Social Media 4 Nonprofits conference in New York last week, Sarah Durham of Big Duck included a most fabulous slide in her presentation (slide 15). I'm excited about this because I still didn't really know what "average" numbers looked like. Every organization, online community, and campaign is different.
- Musicians and Their Healthcare
With the spiraling costs of health care, the old adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is more relevant than ever. And it's especially true for musicians-"the elite athletes of the small muscles,." This report looks at ways musicians can stay healthy, as well as chapters on obtaining health care, doctors and related issues.
- Commentary: Help for dancers and other artists with little or no health insurance
Stephanie Wolf., DanceInforma.com, May 2012
A dancer's ability to work is dependent on optimal health. Proper healthcare is essential for longevity in the dance profession. But many American dancers are under- or uninsured due to the rising costs of healthcare and the complexity of applying for an insurance plan. Finding affordable health insurance is a dizzying feat, especially for freelance dancers.
- Commentary: Art critics face an existential crisis as censorship reigns
Andrea Fraser, Adbusters magazine, 2/14/12
In the midst of an economic crisis, the art world is experiencing an ongoing market boom which has been widely linked to the rise of high net worth individuals, particularly from the financial industry. Until recently, however, there has been very little discussion of the obvious link between the art world's global expansion and rising income disparity. The nonprofit model is dependent on wealthy donors and has its origins in the same ideology that led to the current global economic crisis: that private initiatives are better suited to fulfill social needs than the public sector and that wealth is best administered by the wealthy.
- Commentary: Cutting costs to the bone won't secure future for the arts
Richard Dare, HuffingtonPost.com, 4/5/12
This past year saw six major bankruptcies and closures amongst orchestras. 73% of all orchestras surveyed by Yale University this year are straining under significant and growing deficits. The 18% that are breaking even are primarily doing so by cutting programming and other costs to the bone -- at the expense of their missions, one might at least worry.
- Commentary: Are your company's decision-making protocols hurting your strategy?
Barry Hessenius, WESTAF blog, 3/4/12
Holly Sidford has released a study, Bright Spots Leadership in the Pacific Northwest-- an attempt to look at arts organizations which are actually thriving and succeeding despite the economic hard times that [have] most organizations currently awash in attempts to merely stay afloat, and to inquire what values, processes, protocols and strategies those organizations might share. Basically, what these organizations (and their leaders) seem to have in common is that they adapt to the challenges thrown at them. They are resilient because they are willing to question everything they do and to move on and away from what seems not to be working. It is this willingness to jettison past practices, approaches and ideas that are not working and to look at what they are doing in a different light that seems to herald their current success. These qualities seem very difficult to implement -- at least for the average organization.
- Commentary: Small companies should scrap strategic planning
Kaihan Krippendorff on Fast Company blog, 3/12/12
We claim to celebrate diversity in America. But when it comes to companies, we prescribe one size fits all. Something is wrong. Most of what we learn in business schools and textbooks is written for large companies. And we make the erroneous assumption that since every small company wants to grow (it doesn't), it should strive to adopt practices of the large firms that made it. But for small companies, the winning recipe may be the opposite. This doesn't mean small-growth companies should fly blind. It means they should adopt an adaptive opportunistic approach to strategy. They should plan in the hallway, not the boardroom.
- Commentary: Is the business model for non-profit arts broken?
Linda Essig, director of Arizona State University's arts entrepreneurship program, 1/9/11
The direct answer is that it is a model that is evolving. To be financially viable today, arts organizations need to diversify their revenue models.
- Commentary: Why most discussions about new business models are dead ends
Drew McManus, Adaptistration blog, 1/11/12
It's time to own up to the reality surrounding the sea of "new model" discussions in this business and why they're futile unless they examine and propose adequate solutions to the genuine issues that drive professional performing arts evolution. Most new model discussions boil down to removing the bulk of contractually obligated expenses.
- Commentary: What if the arts embraced our uncertain times as fuel for innovation?
Brian Hinrichs, Blogging Fellow, ArtsFwd.com, 6/25/12
Choreographer Liz Lerman is making waves again, not that she's ever really stopped. On May 4th, the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra performed Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun from memory, with movement design by Lerman. You can watch here. In many ways, making an orchestra dance is classic Liz Lerman. So is working with an ensemble of non-professionals. She's pushing the art form and the performers beyond preconceived boundaries, with transformative results for both the art makers and audience alike. At APAP this year, in a session on leadership, Lerman encouraged us to "quit ranking the voices" in our heads. Lerman's ideal of living in a non-hierarchical world has become a way of life that encompasses several ideas. Here are some of them, in her words:
- Commentary: Is your arts organization competing with itself for patrons?
Jill Robinson, TRG Arts blog, 6/20/12
Findings coming out of loyalty analyses are beginning to expose a bias in the arts industry. Many arts managers are convinced that patrons are either philanthropists seeking to sustain the arts or consumers seeking to experience the art form. This "either-or" mindset is dead wrong. Yet, industry leaders continually provide incentives to keep the bias alive in the structure of their organizations' budgets -- divvying up revenue expectations [among] major gifts, membership/individual giving, [and] marketing/ticket sales. In the end, patrons are not appropriately valued for their support in total. And, as we've recently noted, devalued patrons don't stick around. It doesn't have to be this way. At recent industry conferences, we've seen a small corps of patron loyalty action leaders begin to model a new way for arts organizations to treat patrons like people, instead of departmental property -- and on the way, build sustaining patronage. Over the past decade, our firm has examined hundreds of thousands of patron behavior records looking for loyalty patterns within organizations. Study reveals distinct hierarchal groupings of patrons that we call Advocates, Buyers, and Tryers. Loyalty analysis consistently shows that the top ranks of patronage are comprised of active individuals who are both consumers of the art and philanthropic supporters of it. Organizations often tell me they want to do patron-based management but they don't know where to start. Here's how pioneers in this paradigm have launched their efforts:
- Who Am I, Anyway? Deciphering Your Personal Brand
Nancy Hytone Leb, 6/6/2012
An artist wants to produce art. It’s that simple. Regardless of discipline or level of success, what drives an artist is a deep and personal passion to express themselves creatively. For many artists, thinking of themselves as a business entity brings about a shudder or two. The idea of self-promotion makes them run and hide. It’s the classic right-brain, left-brain conundrum. In classes and workshops, artists often ask why they need a "brand." My answers are many.
- Commentary: A London orchestra makes its audience the star of new campaign
The Guardian's Culture Professionals Network, 5/11/12
William Norris, communications director for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment:
Our new [marketing] campaign builds on our strapline 'Not all orchestras are the same', but turns it around to look at the audience. There's no reason why orchestras always have to be photographed standing on stage in tails. Of course, we don't want to look silly either, but equally, I see no reason why classical music always has to be terribly serious. The idea is simple: we would feature audience members with a strong or unusual look, alongside our players. We liked the incongruity of it, but also the fact that yes, all these people are in our audience.
- Five Rules for Arts Organization Websites
Ceci Dadisman, Director of Marketing & PR, Palm Beach Opera, 4/4/12
Every organization has a website, and I don't need to go over how important a good website is to your organization's identity as well as ticket sales and contributions. However, we can always make our websites better. Here are some rules to help arts organization websites be the best that they can be:
- Commentary: 5 reasons why your nonprofit needs a mobile website
Heather Mansfield, Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog, 3/14/12
With smartphones now outselling PCs, and tablet sales surpassing even the most conservative of estimates, the majority of your nonprofit's supporters will likely be browsing your website on mobile devices by 2013 - and unfortunately most nonprofits are not prepared for this dramatic shift.
- What does your website look like on a mobile phone?
If your site isn't already mobile-friendly, you may be interested in using this free tool from Google to see how your current desktop site looks on a smartphone.
- Commentary: Which funds more art... Kickstarter or the NEA?
Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR Music, 3/1/12 One of the founders of the website Kickstarter, Yancey Strickler, made a startling statement recently: His company will distribute $150 million in 2012. That's big money -- as a point of comparison, Strickler noted the National Endowment for the Arts will distribute $146 million in 2012. There's been a lot of back-and-forth over the numbers since Strickler made his original comparison between Kickstarter and the NEA, but since then he has provided some hard data about what he calls "core arts projects."
- Commentary: Lessons learned from arts marketing experiments
Susan Parker, "Building Arts Organizations That Build Audiences, 3/12 Wallace Foundation report Organizations that value innovation live with the uncomfortable notion that some ideas are bound to fall flat, according to [David] Bradford, the management author. "Innovative organizations have a high failure rate because they experiment a lot," he said. Bradford pointed to how arts organizations can adopt this mindset: doing small experiments; having a strong, consistent vision from leaders; and finding ways to clearly support failure so people will take risks.
- Five Recent Facebook Upgrades That Nonprofits Need to Know About
If there is one thing that nonprofit social media managers are learning (or should be learning) from utilizing new media it’s that technology is now constantly in flux. As soon as you learn and become comfortable with a tool set, it’s replaced with a new one. The best social media managers will adapt quickly, embrace a state of constant learning, and not allow themselves to become easily agitated by modern nonprofit technology. That said, in recent months Facebook has launched a slew of new features for Facebook Pages. My favorite five are listed below.
- What story should you tell in Facebook Timeline?
Editor’s note: Facebook is switching over all nonprofit and business pages to the new Timeline format on Friday, March 30. Because so many organizations haven’t yet made the move, or are still figuring out the best approach, we’re devoting this week to help you get ready to make the transition smartly.
- Quote of the Day
Tighe Flatley, Community Manager at Eventbrite, 3/6/12
'Build it and they will come,' does not apply to Facebook. Instead, it's more like, 'build it, update it frequently, identify and reach out to your audience to tell them about it then incentivise them to engage with it and they might come -- but only if you do it well enough.'
- Commentary: Why Ticketmaster wants to be your friend on Facebook
Joshua Brustein, New York Times "Bits" column, 3/5/12
If you want to know why companies are so hot on social networking, consider this: Ticketmaster recently began asking customers to post their purchases on Facebook. Since then, the company says, it has made $5.30 in additional ticket sales each time someone has done so. That value increases to $8 when the customer also posts the location of the seats using Ticketmaster's seating chart. The exact numbers should probably be taken with a grain of salt, because they do not adjust for people who would have bought tickets anyway. Still, they make clear why Ticketmaster -- and other e-commerce sites -- are making an increasing push to get people to blend their shopping and social activities.
- Commentary: How well do you know your online audience?
Jackie Purnell's Respectfully Disobedient blog
Data takes time. But rather than sit on the sidelines and wait, I'm suggesting you dip your toe in the water and test the temperature as soon as possible. It's the best way to make sure you're not wasting your efforts and your marketing is being correctly targeted. There are tools & resources around every corner, but they will only provide you with the raw data, you have to analyze and make sense of it all. To get a clear picture it's really important not to take any single site in isolation.
- Commentary: Should you build a separate mobile site or use "responsive design"?
Luke Wroblewski on his blog, 2/29/12
As more organizations realize they need to invest heavily in multi-device Web designs, the inevitable question of "how" comes up. Here's how I've tried to simplify this decision...
- Tumblr & Pinterest are now the #2 and #3 social networks for user 'stickiness'
Glenn Peoples, Billboard, 1/11/12
Facebook dominates U.S. social media. Well behind Facebook are two growing social networks you might not be aware of, Tumblr and Pinterest. They have fewer users than Twitter and even MySpace, but they command quite a bit of time. Other social networks have more users but Tumblr ranks second only to Facebook in average time spent at the site.
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