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Case Study 3: The Corcoran Gallery of Art
One of Washington DC’s premier nonprofits, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, was a Give to the Max Day winner. In all, the Corcoran Gallery of Art had 438 donors who donated $55,189, winning third place for the most dollars raised, which came with a $5,000 award.
“Give to the Max Day was a great idea,” said Jessica Hazlett, development systems manager, Corcoran Gallery of Art. “There was some conversation within the organization about whether or not we could fundraise online like this without Give to the Max Day. I am not sure we can do it the same way. The challenge and the competition made a big difference.”
How They Did It
A Corcoran Gallery senior staff member had participated in a similar giving day earlier in the year, ACT for Alexandria. The Corcoran Gallery of Art used strategies and insights from that three-day contest to develop their approach as it was the first online contest for the nonprofit.
The campaign focused on ArtReach, the Corcoran’s community art program that extends the resources of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the College of Art + Design to underserved Washington, DC, neighborhoods. In particular, they focused on three children’s stories, Kayla, Alex, and Marie, and asked donors to give them, “the opportunity to create something that they believe in.”
The Corcoran decided to release a well-received video about the ArtReach program for Give to the Max Day. “We really feel it was important to focus on ArtReach because there were so many social services competing,” said Jessica Hazlett. For the actual fundraising, the Corcoran built teams internally, and had their own contest. The graphics team, marketing team, and development teams competed for a lunch hosted by the President and Director. Though development won due to professional advantage, the graphics team was dubbed the winner.
Another major component of the effort was the faculty and staff at the Corcoran. Both groups had a specific fundraising page where they could direct their students and community. Individual fundraising pages allowed the Corcoran team to motivate “contestants” and at the same time track the faculty and staff’s efforts—which were immensely successful.
How People Responded
An email releasing the ArtReach video was sent on the morning of Give to the Max Day. Pre-programmed Facebook and Twitter updates also supported the effort. Individual fundraisers reached out to their communities, and the Corcoran’s board of directors also supported the efforts.
A strong majority of the Corcoran community reacted very well to Give to the Max Day. “ArtReach took over our website and Facebook that day,” said Jessica Hazlett. “Towards the end, people rallied around the prizes.”
A small number of people reported that they were fatigued by the communication, though the Gallery said it was an internal issue. “We may not communicate it the same way to every stakeholder next time,” added Jessica Hazlett. “Next year we’ll better explain it to our constituency.”
The direct peer-to-peer communications achieved the best results for the Corcoran. Faculty, staff, and board members drove the most donations through their team pages and it was clear that donors responded most to personal, one-to-one communications.
The Corcoran did participate in the training program, specifically a boot camp in Arlington, VA, and watched some of the video tutorials. In particular, the award and procedural discussions and Razoo giving platform training were useful. But like other experienced nonprofits, the Corcoran needed less help on collecting stories.
Suggestions for next year’s Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington from their team included clarifying the awards so they are simpler to understand, and adding individual awards categories. Because of the social service sector’s strong showing in Give to the Max Day, the Corcoran decided to feature a program that had a social service component to it with the hopes of garnering wider appeal for the arts organization. ArtReach helped the Corcoran to win awards for most dollars raised (third place) and most donors (fourth place). There was a realization that other arts organizations may not have such a well-rounded program, and an arts-only prize category would make the effort more attractive.
Next year the Corcoran may target the hourly ticket prizes to rally their donors around them. “I really liked the ideas of the Golden and Platinum Tickets,” said Jessica Hazlett. “Next year, we will plan that out a little better.”
“Give to the Max Day really brought out the best in the Corcoran,” Jessica added. “We all felt really proud to be part of making such a difference for our ArtReach students—they deserve it!”