Image by Howard Lake
Hi there. This is Part 2 of 3 in our funding series which quickly introduces you to a wide range of sources to get money from. We go through how they work, with a list of pros and cons so you can decide which one is right for you…
Lookie here for Part 1.
What: When a business gives you money that’s equivalent to the marketing impact you have to promote their product or brand.
How: This usually comes in the form of having their logo on things, appearing in your blog and social media. It could include offering free products for audiences (e.g. dinner before the show from a new restaurant, or a give-away). You could offer the opportunity to give 20 minutes for a talk from someone in the company.
You need to know the worth of your brand. How many people will see the sponsors’ offering? What is their demographic? Are they the demographic of the people you’re approaching?
You can think small with this as well as multinational. Has a friend just set up a small business? Do you know a shop that’s opened up in the area?
Pros: You can do what you want with the money. The cost to implement is low relative to the size of the sponsorship. It can make you look more legitimate and it helps to have a company ‘vouch’ for you with money as for other donors or investors. You can have several sponsors and different packages.
Cons: Must keep sponsors happy and deliver the impact that has been agreed upon. It can take a very, very long time to court a sponsor and get them to give you support. It needs to be part of your general networking – which means you need to network in the right places to meet these people. You need to make sure that the person who said yes (and probably persuaded other people to sign off on it too) feels loved and you give them special treatment which can take some managing.
Corporate Social Responsibility
What: Very similar to Sponsorship – it has the same kind of outputs, but the business is doing this because they feel they have a responsibility either in your local area (because they have office there) or for your cause (e.g. opticians helping a show about blindness). They want to be seen to be doing good as much as they want to do good.
How: Same as sponsorship, but pull out the benefit for your performers (if they’re the target group) or the audience (if they’re the target group)
Pros: You still need to make a strong marketing case – however this could just be for them to write it into their annual We Done Good report or to write off some tax so you may not have to prove impact as much as Sponsorship. That may sound cynical but you need to figure out, in each case, why they are looking to give away money. Nope. They won’t tell you either – do your research!
Cons: Same as above
What: You provide an experience which someone wants (that isn’t your show) for more money than it costs to deliver – because the difference is not profit, but a donation to the company.
How: The most obvious one is sky diving. It may cost about £300 to do a skydive but you raise £1500 because then it goes to charity. Your charity. If you’re not a charity don’t do it through one of the major sites – but you can still do sponsosed things. People may give because they want to see you do something silly or because they feel pressured to support you – or it’s just a fun way to actually support you (and is another way for you to make the ask).
Also consider doing something less usual. What do your friends like to do? Go drinking? Great. Organise a pub crawl – phone a load of pubs, promise them 20 spenders and get VIP treatment and then collect some money. This is great if your friends aren’t the theatrey type or don’t give to charity. They’ll take part because they either love you, or they love the thing your offering (hopefully both!).
This is just a more basic version of an annual gala or posh fundraising event.
Also consider your special skills. Are you certified to give Indian Head Massages? Can you draw facebook profile pictures? You can sell these skills (and call it private investment) or you can call them fundraising and charge a little more because it’s going to a good cause. People are more likely to share it with their friends too because their networks get benefit even if they don’t care about your production.
Check the laws – can you run a 100 Club or a raffle? Can you ask for voluntary donations for alcohol at a house party?
The essence of this is – give people something that they want and the fact they’re giving to a worthwhile cause is the bonus – rather than the main appeal of donating.
Also keep in mind that others can run events on your behalf. If your networks don’t have money, tap into a friend or family’s network by asking them to do run an event or offer a skill. That way people will take part because they love your mum and want to support her – or maybe she just has more attractive skills :p
Pros: It allows people who won’t or can’t go to your event to contribute in another way. It allows you to ask for support from your non-theatrey friends. It utilises skills you already have and activates the networks of your network – if the event is interesting enough. People don’t get donor fatigue – so long as you’re always asking them for events they want and can afford. You could even plan to offer something new on a monthly basis so people know what to expect and you can repeat what’s popular. It also keeps your social media and blog fresh with new content which keeps people involved. You can do what you like with the money too.
Cons: Don’t be too ambitious if you have to make outlays (eg room hire for an event). It can be a lot of work to generate a small amount of money so you may want to do a feasibility test and ask people’s opinions. It’s not good if you’re strapped for time as you have to do lots of personal marketing.
We hope this is giving you a whole buffet for thought – and we’re not done yet! As you can see when you transform what can be an awkward request for money into fun, exciting activities that people really want to get involved in, getting money for your theatre work can actually be rather fun and rewarding.
Up next are Loans, Investment and Associated Income. Why not follow up on twitter to get the highlights and more handy tips to make your career in theatre so much easier?