*FOMO = slang for ‘fear of missing out’—and missing out is something we definitely don’t want ANY of  our Arts & Cultural patrons to do!

It’s that time of year where you are beginning to finalize your plans and send out invitations to your Annual Gala.  As an Arts and Cultural organization, the Annual Gala is your opportunity to celebrate your organization’s past, your current activities and projects, and what is still to come.  You can’t be successful without your sponsors, VIP’s, and high-level prospective donors, so these Galas are geared towards said group, at a relatively high-priced event.

But what about the rest of your patrons?

What about that individual who has been an active member for 5+ years at a lower level but just doesn’t have the ability to buy a high-priced event ticket?  What about those annual donors who support you every year, or the mother who signs up her children for camp every summer?

In my experience working with Arts and Cultural organizations, the number of donor and member events varies wildly from organization to organization, many times with groups of patrons being forgotten.

One thing you can do to help bolster enthusiasm for your organization is to hold more events that engage your active patrons and members, at all levels.

Members Only Preview Parties

Many museums already offer preview parties for members of their new exhibits or activities. But the question to ask is:  are you taking advantage of this time and engagement as an additional cultivation activity?  Many organizations offer these events as “free” to the members, but that doesn’t mean you walk away with no money or support.  Take this opportunity to offer incentives for Membership Renewals if they renew on-site.

A few additional ideas:

  • Have new opportunities for these members to financially support your organization outside of their annual dues at a lower price point, like a buy-a-brick program or help purchase art and program supplies to assist in your education needs.
  • Since preview parties are of no cost to the members, ask them to bring a friend. This brings in new prospective donors, and your members feel like they’re helping to further your mission, without having to write another check.

Director’s Lunch/Dinner

These types of events are great for special, invite-only activities.  Use the power of data you already collect about donations, memberships, tickets, etc. to build a list of individuals who may be very active in your organization but may not be able to attend the big, once a year party.  These types of activities will make your constituents feel special since they have been directly targeted as an interest of your organization’s leaders and help to more fully engage them in your organizations mission, hopefully financially.

While it may be difficult to find that time and staffing resources to put together new events, I encourage each of you to try and add at least one new event this year to help cultivate those patrons at a lower price point than the Annual Gala and help spread the good will throughout your constituent base.


Ben is an Altru Consultant at Blackbaud, helping new clients implement software.  He has been with Blackbaud for over 5 years starting in the Education Department delivering training for Raisers Edge and Altru, then moving to the Arts and Cultural team to become an Altru Consultant.  He has lived all over the east coast working with organizations throughout Boston, New York City, Washington DC, North Carolina and eventually landing in Charleston, SC where he currently resides.

Get nonprofit articles, best practice advice, fundraising ideas and invaluable industry reports and webinars delivered for free!