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The Australian Cultural Fund

This year the Australian Cultural Fund (ACF), our online fundraising platform, channeled more funds to Australian artists and arts organisations than ever before. With a record-breaking year that saw success for a diverse range of campaigns, support through the Australian Cultural Fund ensured projects of all sizes received the resources and tools to reach their fundraising goals.

Our artists
This year, 499 artists and arts organisations around Australia registered campaigns with the Australian Cultural Fund. Their supporters donated a record $6.47 million – the highest amount ever received in a financial year. This is an increase of more than 80% on the previous year and well above our 2018-19 target of $3.5 million.

The significant increase in funds raised through the platform this year is primarily due to a growth in high-level contributions for projects of scale including multiple donations over $100,000. This growth demonstrates the value of the Australian Cultural Fund for large, long-term fundraising campaigns and donor-led projects.

Increase in ACF campaigns registered since 2014-15

* Campaigns in 2017-2018 were enhanced by the running of our one-off matched funding program ACF Boost, which was not repeated in 2018-19.

  • Campaigns registered: 499 (down 19% over last year).
  • Average $ raised by each completed campaign: $6,469 (up 16% over last year).
  • Highest $ raised by a single completed campaign:$188,334 (up 29% over last year).

To promote sustainable fundraising practices, we encourage artists and arts organisations to build long-term relationships with their donors. As a result, 86% of artists who completed an acquittal this year reported continued engagement with their supporters following completion of their campaigns, demonstrating a clear understanding of the value of donor stewardship.

Our donors
A total of 9,431 art lovers, philanthropists, trusts and foundations donated to Australian Cultural Fund artists and arts organisations this year. 2018-19 saw donors increasing the size of their gifts to the Australian Cultural Fund, offsetting a decrease in the total number of donations made. This is an encouraging trend for artists and arts organisations fundraising through the platform, as it led to a 16% increase in average funds raised per campaign.

This investment in our arts and cultural sector brings the total value of donations to more than $16 million since the online platform launched in 2014, and more than $30 million since the fund was established in 2003.

  • Average donations per campaign: 19 (up 6% over last year).
  • Donations over $10K: 83 (up 23% over last year).
  • Single biggest donation: $1,250,000.

2018-19 saw the largest Australian Cultural Fund donation ever received, with artists and arts
organisations using the platform to raise significant funds through major campaigns. While future growth of this kind is dependent on the continued participation of these large-scale campaigns, this year’s increase illustrates the Australian Cultural Fund’s capacity to operate at a level which sees donations of over $1 million reach Australian artists and arts organisations.

A total of 1,063 donors returned to the Australian Cultural Fund to donate this year, reflecting the work of both artists and arts organisations in building long-term supporter networks and a broader awareness of the Australian Cultural Fund platform as a tool for facilitating tax-deductible donations.

Making culture happen
To ensure that the Australian Cultural Fund remains relevant and engaged with Australian artists and arts organisations, the Australian Cultural Fund team and State Managers delivered a suite of community engagement activities to promote the Australian Cultural Fund and support users to reach their fundraising potential. In 2018- 19 this included presentations at events and conferences across Australia, reinforcing the national remit of the Australian Cultural Fund. This activity within the arts sector is matched with an increased interaction with high net worth individuals and trusts and foundations, raising awareness of the platform to a new community of donors and supporters.

Connecting with more artists and donors online is key to our artist and donor engagement activity and this year saw the Australian Cultural Fund online community continue to grow. Web traffic has remained steady, with the site receiving over 556,000 views from more than 158,000 unique visits.

Social media channels remain an important way of guiding online visitors to the Australian Cultural Fund, with platforms such as Facebook and Instagram responsible for 32% of all traffic to the Australian Cultural Fund site this year. Visitors from a search engine such as Google increased by 38% this year, demonstrating the success of our search engine optimisation activity.

Readership of the Australian Cultural Fund eNews remains an important resource with more than 7,000 subscribers using this service to aid their fundraising knowledge across 2018-19.

The Australian Cultural Fund artist dashboard is designed to enable artists to view the progress of their campaign and engage with their supporters. The artist dashboard is the most popular area of the site with over 556,000 page views, showing the importance of live information and donor data to users’ fundraising strategies.

Access to tailor-made content on fundraising, crowdfunding, campaign planning and budgeting is a key component of the Australian Cultural Fund program and continues to be fundamental to Australian Cultural Fund users completing successful campaigns. This year, 22 resources on fundraising skills and strategies were developed and published on the Australian Cultural Fund site. Artist and donor profiles on the Australian Cultural Fund blog, featuring stories of successful campaigns and passionate arts supporters, saw the blog continue to be one of the most viewed areas on the Australian Cultural Fund site with 17,311 views.

ACF Case Study: James Darling and Lesley Forwood

South Australian conceptual artists, James Darling and Lesley Forwood, use their artwork as a vehicle to make social, political, and environmental statements. Living Rocks: A Fragment of the Universe was selected as part of the 58th Venice Biennale and using the Australian Cultural Fund, the pair were able to reach new donor audiences to realise their project. The moving image installation comprising of 15 rock formations, submerged in water to create a large-scale sculpture, addressed the question: what was on the planet three billion years ago?

James and Lesley used the Australian Cultural Fund to inform potential funders about their
project via video, providing a visual representation of their artistic process to communicate the concepts and processes behind their artistic practice. This built a connection and understanding with their donors and highlighted the breadth of their project. The video was used as a springboard for their campaign and was shared across social, web and press channels to generate interest. This major campaign generated support from individuals and foundations, raising over $60,000 to support their journey to exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

“The Australian Cultural Fund gave Living Rocks: A Fragment of the Universe a credible public platform for private donors to make tax-deductible contributions to a unique Australian event in the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia,” says James.

ACF Case Study: Sanguine Estate Music Festival

Sanguine Estate Music Festival is one of Australia’s leading chamber music festivals. Held in Heathcote and Bendigo, the two-day festival is known for its diverse programming of Australian and international artists and showcases the natural beauty of Victoria to a national audience. Across 2018-19, the festival used the Australian Cultural Fund twice to raise funds to engage international artists to perform in their summer program and fund artist travel.

Chris Howlett, Chairman and key fundraiser of Sanguine Estate Music Festival, said he used “the Australian Cultural Fund platform to ensure existing donors felt supported and potential new donors had a seamless transition into the festival’s Circle of Friends.” The festival’s two-part fundraising strategy leveraged support from donors across the year while creating continuous momentum in the lead up to the event.

“A majority of the festival’s donors were existing attendees. At the festival, we always acknowledge the support of the donors and talk about how their support enables us to continue to build a world-class festival within a sustainable environment,” says Chris.

Sanguine Estate Music Festival received a total of $29,895 in donations, funding world-class
artists to travel and perform chamber music for Australian audiences to enjoy.