12 February, 16

Panel discussion on fundraising strategies

The Fundraising Strategy round-table discussion was held on 5 February, 2016 within the framework of the second seminar on cultural marketing organised by the Aksenov Family Foundation, the Vladimir Smirnov and Konstantine Sorokin Foundation and the Avesta Group company. It was attended by Teresa Mavica, Director of the V—A–C Foundation; Julia Müller, Director of the Fundraising Department and Sponsorship Relations of the Salzburg Festival; Dmitry Aksenov, founder of the Aksenov Family Foundation and Yulia Chernova, co-founder and Director for Development of the v confession agency company. The round-table moderator was Christophe Monin, the Director of the Sponsorship and Development Department in the Philharmonie de Paris.

The round table finalised with Monin’s lecture on fundraising strategies where he presented an in-depth analysis of the most successful examples from world practice – the Louvre, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Metropolitan Museum, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Boston Children’s Museum, the Theatre Celestin, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and others. Then the participants were given the opportunity to find out two things: first, from art patrons: what drives them when they decide to fund cultural projects; how does patronage rank among their activities; what do they want to gain for themselves and society. Second, from successful professional fundraisers: what practices are most effective in arranging and promoting a fundraising campaign and how can sponsor's expectations be met.

Christophe Monin, Teresa Mavica, Julia Müller

Teresa Iarocci Mavica told about the process of transition from a collector to an art patron by example of her relations with Leonid Mikhelson, the founder of the V—A–C Foundation, whom she assisted along this path. The key things in patronage are a clear statement of one's goals as a person willing to impact the cultural environment, and an understanding of one's social responsibility.

The modern Russian context is far from being a favourable one because we have an insufficient number of museums, collectors and galleries. Our task is to facilitate the development of the local situation and imagine how this can be done. <…> The V—A–C Foundation is involved with young artists, i.e. the future rather than the past when many institutions and private persons are trying to gain a foothold abroad on account of their past. If you put faith in your country, take action so that the culture of the present would become a legacy for future generations».
Teresa Mavica

Julia Müller, who is engaged in development and fundraising for the Salzburg Festival, told about a network of festival friend societies. Austrian legislation in the cultural area in some way resembles the Russian one – literally up to January 2016, if a sponsor donated to a cultural institution, he was entitled to a tax deduction. Therefore, the Salzburg Festival established a parent organisation of friends in Austria and affiliated organisations where this deduction is possible and stimulates sponsorship: Germany, the U.S.A. and Switzerland. As Müller said, Salzburg Festival marketing (to a large extent, due to the specific features of concert activities) is conducted in a very special manner and hence needs a minimal budget.

Julia Müller: “Frankly speaking, our marketing budget is very small. In November, we are announcing a program for the next summer and will go on a road show. We will visit different cities and present our program to a variety of audiences. This can be a membership association, guests invited by our sponsors, press conferences or dinners with journalists. Then we offer the guests to book tickets for events of their liking, though only up to a certain date. This year it was up to January 8. Starting from this date, we distribute tickets among different groups and people, and the remainder is offered for sale, i.e. we perform targeted marketing.”

Müller also noted that the company’s sponsorship activities will never be completely successful if the Director General or at least one member of the Board of Directors is disinterested in culture. Often patronage and sponsorship is one of the lines of activity, as in the case of Dmitry Aksenov, the founder of the Aksenov Family Foundation. He told how he is working on the borderline of commercially successful initiatives and charity, and what he is expecting from projects into which he is investing as sponsor or partner. Aksenov touched on the key issue of project success criteria and cultural institution professionalism, which are vague in this area as nowhere else.

Dmitry Aksenov
Professionalism is an understanding of what you are doing, responsibility and consistency, as well as feedback. This is what our patrons and philanthropists always lack – care and attention. This seems funny, but it is also a criteria of professionalism».
Dmitry Aksenov
  • Yulia Chernova, cofounder of the first and yet single agency in Russia professionally engaged in fundraising in the cultural area, spoke about dealing with corporate capital rather than the private one, and how relations between companies and institutions have changed recently. If five years ago modern art, according to her story, was seen as something dangerous, strange, niche-like and incomprehensible, then now even if a brand has no relation to modern culture it deems it necessary to show this link by stating that it corresponds to the spirit of times, looks to the future and is abreast with all things modern. This opens more options for creative and successful marketing when the fundraising campaign team can assert partnership as a 360° platform because collaboration with a museum is more extensive than simple sponsorship and placement of one's logo, as Chernova states. Such collaboration can fall outside the framework of both conventional sponsorship and patronage. However, it is crucial that both parties have a clear understanding of their obligations and strive to meet them.

Yulia Chernova: “The idea of investing into culture is very appealing because simply saying “give” is not a mutually beneficial process. Our activities are linked not to charity but to result-yielding investments with clear assessment criteria and a spectrum of obligations, which we undertake together with the institution.”

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