Dollars Love Culture

Philanthropy has always been a social occupation; the spirit that guides it is a universal truth. The advantages of philanthropy are many: first off, it allows people to help others in need, and gives the philanthropist satisfaction in knowing that they are giving to a cause (or causes) that they hold dear.

Private-sector fundraising is a priority for cultural organizations and charities alike. Indeed, in an economic context in which other sources of funding are constantly shifting and evolving, private-sector giving is a more urgent need than ever before.

In Canadians value companies that support the arts, more than 80% of corporations and the public believe that engagement with the arts leads to good health and well-being, increases creativity and assists in the intellectual development of children. Arts build healthier and integrated communities; they develop empathy and understanding; and help reduce youth crime and alienation.


New paradigms in fundraising

What will become of philanthropists in the coming years? In The Evolution of Giving, from charity to philanthropy, the authors note that “boomers, the generation who have always been socially aware and involved, and who have always rejected or redefined traditional values, are taking a closer look at their charitable involvement. They’re examining why they give, what they give, to whom they give, when they give and how they give – both through financial donation, and through volunteering.”

Certain causes are more popular than others. In Trends in philanthropy (in French only), we learn that different generations give differently: Generation Y (born between 1981 and 1995) contributes to 2.3 different organizations on average, and participate in “challenge”-type activities (trecking, hikes, etc), and are attuned to international issues. Generation X (born after 1965) are most interested in leisure and sports, and tend to support local initiatives. Boomers, on the other hand, donate an average of $299 in Quebec and $564 in Canada. People born before 1945 give an average of $405, contribute to an average of 3.8 organizations, favour religious organizations, and volunteer their time locally.

Corporations, who are approached more and more for donations, are looking to define their area of involvement and to ensure positive repercussions for their brand. In the research paper Canadians Appreciate Companies that Support the Arts, the authors note that only 13% of corporate donations from businesses worth more than $25M were given to the arts, compared to the 25% given by small and medium-sizes businesses (SMBs). In addition, more than one in three SMBs (38%) donate to the arts, compared to 71% of larger corporations. Since 2008, the average corporate donation has increased to $69 000 in 2014. 57% of the total contributions are sponsorships, 30% in-kind goods and services and 13% in donations.

The lever effect of the collaborative economy in culture


Diagnostic de la dynamique culturelle de l’arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal, by ArtExpert, 2014

We now know that the Québécois economy is stimulated by culture, which employs more than 150 000 workers and generates over 5 billion dollars, or 5% of the province’s GDP.

The distinguishing feature of the cultural economy is its collaborative nature. For example, ArtExpert’s Cultural Diagnostic revealed that in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough in Montreal, a veritable collaborative economy flourishes, with 60% of creative, production or broadcasting partnerships built between cultural or community organizations.

Contributing to the cultural sector in a variety of ways reinforces the idea that “United we stand”. The collaborative economy is the sharing economy: ideas, resources, knowledge, office space, production space, or even a car! In her study Zoom sur l’économie collaborative Charline Legrand notes that « More philosophically, we observe a willingness to bring back meaning to what we do. This quest for meaning, common in Generation Y, is evident in the importance on human interaction and relationships (…) The high degree of interest in the collaborative economy could really not have taken place without the increase in public awareness of ecological issues that has characterized the last two decades”.

Culture, an economic and social issue for Generation Ydollars_culturels

In major urban centres and in rural areas, we see a proliferation of youth involved in economic, social, or cultural projects in their community.

In Montreal, a new movement is beginning to take hold, thanks to the new generation of business leaders investing in cultural organizations. Sébastien Barangé, co-founder of Jeunes mécènes pour les arts, wrote last year in La Presse that «Jeunes mécènes pour les arts will give out $20 000 in grants to emerging artists in November. What’s more, thanks to the Brigade Arts Affaires de Montréal, 100 emerging business leaders will donate a work of public art worth over $100 000 to Montrealers for the 375th anniversary of the City of Montreal”. In addition, in Culture in Montreal: numbers, trends and innovative practices KPMG-SECOR states that between 2008 and 2013, Montreal’s charitable and cultural organizations increased the proportion of private donations from 50% to 66% of their total revenues.

Outside of major urban centres, in spite of a smaller population, it is in partnership with small business owners, local philanthropists and community contributions that organizations that significantly increase the proportion of privately-raised donations on their overall revenue.

Youth from all walks of life now invest in culture thanks to crowdsourcing. A fundraising technique that calls everyone to action, crowdsourcing, or crowdfunding, “helps communities rally around a particular project by asking for small donations ($5, $10, $25, $50) to finance their project”, says Nathalie Courville of KissKissBankBank. These donors provide expertise, money, and their vast network to the organizations raising funds.

In a context in which funding sources are rapidly changing, organizations feel the need to put in place a plan to ensure their future. Although arts funders still provide support, a sophistication of fundraising methods using specific tools for specific asks is becoming the norm across Canada. Cultural philanthropy is, now more than ever, an undeniable force to sustain the artistic community throughout the country.


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