via Flickr Windell H. Oskay,

The latest salon/conversation in the ArtSpark series, “Asking for $$,” uncovered some v-e-r-y interesting ideas and experiences around what makes a perfect and less-than-perfect investor/donor for artists and arts organizations.  (Investors/donors includes individuals and partners like foundations and the public sector.)

The PERFECT investor/donor:

  • is excited about the work the artist or arts org is doing, makes a multi-year commitment (continues to give, be involved), feels a sense of ownership (sharing, not proprietary!), wants to be part of the artist’s or arts org’s community, refers other investors/donors, is comfortable giving online, likes to network, is honest about chances for funding (e.g., a foundation having clear guidelines about who they actually fund), and wants to know how their investment/donation is making an impact.
  • it’s also a real plus if the investor/donor is respected by others, communicates well, uses social media to network, understands her/his role, and enjoys receiving thanks and appreciation.

The Less-Than-Perfect investor/donor:

  • wants artistic and/or organizational control, tells you how to apply their donation or gift, makes you jump through hoops and red tape, forgets again and again to make their donation or gift, is a friend or family member who gives with strings attached and/or resentment, doesn’t like to give or communicate online, and doesn’t show interest in how their investment/donation is making an impact.
  • it’s also a real minus if the motivation of the investor/donor is to position themselves socially or politically, and communicates by gossiping about the artist or arts org to their community.

The good news is that investors/donors who genuinely want to commit, connect and care about the arts are out there.  Challenges lie in HOW artists and arts orgs can engage these investor/donors in ways that are easy and “top of mind” while building long-term, genuine relationships.

What are YOUR thoughts and experiences around investors/donors?  Anything you’d like to add or subtract?