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Australian Cultural Fund

The Australian Cultural Fund (ACF), our online fundraising platform, had a successful year despite disruptions to the arts and cultural sector due to bushfire, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists and arts organisations received a total of $4.65 million in donations through the platform in 2019/20, demonstrating the reach and impact of the Australian Cultural Fund across a range of artforms and campaigns.

Artists

Australian artists and arts organisations registered a total of 442 campaigns through the Australian Cultural Fund this year, and received $4.65 million in donations, exceeding our 2019/20 target by over 25%.

Continuing a trend of high-level contributions for ambitious projects, the Australian Cultural Fund received 104 donations over $10,000, an increase of 21% from the previous year.

To promote sustainable fundraising practices, we encouraged artists and arts organisations to build long-term relationships with their donors. As a result, over 87% of artists reported continued engagement with their supporters following completion of their campaigns, demonstrating a clear understanding of the value of donor stewardship.

Campaigns registered:
442
(11% less than last year)

Average $ raised by each completed campaign:
$8,743
(35% more than last year)

Highest $ raised by a single completed campaign:
$625,250
(232% more than last year)

Donors

This year, 8,020 art lovers, philanthropists, and trust and foundations donated $4.65 million through the Australian Cultural Fund. Although the number of donations decreased from last year due to the impact of COVID-19, donors increased their level of support in 2019/20, with average funds raised per campaign increasing by 35% to $8,743.

Donations received through the Australian Cultural Fund provided a significant investment in the arts and cultural sector, bringing the total value of donations since the online platform launched in 2014 to more than $20 million.

The highest amount raised by a single Australian Cultural Fund campaign was $625,250, indicating a growing awareness of the benefits of the platform to facilitate large-scale fundraising projects. This highlights the opportunity available to artists and arts organisations looking to secure private sector support for major campaigns through the ACF platform.

1,100 donors returned to the ACF platform to donate again this year, demonstrating the success of Australian artists and arts organisations in building long- term relationships and creating sustainable fundraising practices. This result also indicates the confidence donors have in the Australian Cultural Fund platform as a tool for supporting the arts and cultural sector.

Average number of donations per campaign:
18
(5% less than last year)

Donations over $10K:
104
(21% more than last year)

Single biggest donation:
$105,000

Online Engagement

The Australian Cultural Fund continued to support Australian artists and art organisations throughout 2019/20 to reach their fundraising goals. The Australian Cultural Fund team and Creative Partnerships Australia’s State Managers engaged with the community through events and workshops, strengthening existing relationships with donors and artists, and raising awareness of the platform as an avenue to assist artists and arts organisations to fund their work.

This year saw the Australian Cultural Fund online community grow, with an increase of 267,054 unique visits to the website, up from 158,000 the previous year. Visitors from organic searches to the website increased to 42% of referrals. This result shows the growth in artists, arts organisations and supporters looking to the Australian Cultural Fund as a trusted fundraising platform and source of fundraising knowledge.

Social media remained essential to building awareness, reaching new audiences and guiding users to the website. Our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels referred over 30% of traffic to the platform and generated $260,000 in donations in 2019/20.

By sharing relevant and helpful resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Cultural Fund’s social channels saw a growth in engaged users of over 150%. Consistent sharing of campaigns on Instagram during the ACF Boost fundraising period created awareness of the program and assisted in establishing relationships with artists, growing our community and creating conversations.

The Australian Cultural Fund will further develop strategies in 2020/21 to strengthen engagement with artists, art organisations and donors through online channels.

ACF COVID-19 Support Programs

To support artists and arts organisations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Creative Partnerships Australia worked in partnership with the Sidney Myer Fund and Philanthropy Australia’s Arts Funders Network to assist in the realisation of the National Assistance Program for the Arts’ $1.5 million grants program. Creative Partnerships Australia supported the program by waiving the service fee, meaning that all funds raised through the Australian Cultural Fund directly contributed to the distribution of $1,000 grants to over 1,500 artists and arts workers experiencing loss of income due to COVID-19.

The Australian Cultural Fund’s pandemic response also included support via a fee waiver for Theatre Network Australia’s 1000 x 1000: Crisis Cash for Artists campaign to facilitate emergency payments to independent artists, creatives, crew and producers in the performing arts sector.

ACF Case Study: Rubiks Collective

Rubiks Collective, Headshot  Cameron Jamieson Photography
Photo: Cameron Jamieson Photography

As a dynamic contemporary art music ensemble, Rubiks Collective is passionate about working with artistic pioneers and collaborating with Australian and international artists. Since 2017, Rubiks has fundraised on the Australian Cultural Fund for the Pythia Prize, an annual commission that supports a female or gender-nonconforming composer to collaborate with Rubiks on the creation of new work. The 2019 campaign was their most successful to date, raising $5,202.

With a fundraising strategy focused on digital engagement, Rubiks ran a three-week campaign sharing a range of content through their social media channels and eCommunications. Launching their campaign with a short video featuring ensemble members with the Pythia winner from the previous year, they demonstrated the importance of donating to the Prize by showing how valuable the composer’s experience has been. The video helped to create a personal connection with their audience and was shared widely within the arts community.

Engaging with donors was integral to Rubiks’ strategy. Their stewardship plan focussed on forming strong relationships, thanking donors on social media, via personalised emails, and through acknowledging their support in the scores of commissioned works. Donors were also invited to attend Rubiks’ annual launch party, which premiered a video of the newly commissioned work. The celebration acknowledged the hard work of the composer and brought artists and donors together.

Fundraising through the Australian Cultural Fund gave Rubiks Collective the ability to track the progress of their fundraising and access ongoing support from the Australian Cultural Fund Manager. The messages of support that Rubiks Collective received from donors through the platform were timely and encouraging reminders that the ensemble was creating meaningful change and had a strong network of supporters.

ACF Case Study: RUMPUS

RUMPUS Theatre, RUMPUS 2020  Jordan Archer
Photo: Jordan Archer
RUMPUS is an Adelaide-based independent theatre company that brings together actors and theatre makers to create innovative and exciting new works. Their fundraising campaign set out to fund their 2020 season, comprised of five new South Australian works and six development works-in-progress. After a successful inaugural season in 2019, RUMPUS applied for MATCH Lab and secured $10,000 of matched funding from Creative Partnerships Australia.

RUMPUS used their established network to promote the campaign through a series of posts on social media and eCommunications, directing donors to the project on the Australian Cultural Fund. They filmed interviews with lead actors from the season’s headline productions and shared these each week, providing an in-depth discussion of each production to build excitement around the upcoming season and strengthen the company’s connection with their audience. They also helped advocate the importance of every donation and how each gift would benefit the RUMPUS collective.

When COVID-19 lockdown restrictions forced the cancellation of their season launch, the company responded by moving the event online. Though launching at an uncertain time, RUMPUS benefited from the optimism that their community brought to the event, with live donation updates encouraging others to give. They hosted a second online event in the last 24 hours of their campaign to engage directly with potential donors and create a sense of urgency and excitement around reaching their target. RUMPUS finished their month-long campaign exceeding their goal of $10,000, raising $12,905.

For RUMPUS, engaging with their community was key to the success of their fundraising campaign. The Fundraising Committee sent a thank you email to every donor and personally called supporters who donated more than $200. RUMPUS also acknowledged donors on social media to show their thanks publicly. After the campaign, all donors received an email newsletter wrapping up the campaign, celebrating the amount raised and thanking them for their support.

RUMPUS Director Rebecca Mayo said using the Australian Cultural Fund benefited their fundraising campaign. “It is great as a small organisation to be able to offer tax deductibility on donations which otherwise would be outside our capacity. This was especially useful this year, with our campaign taking place so close to the end of the financial year and our targeting of larger donations.”