5 Nonprofit Trends at Arts and Cultural Organizations | npENGAGE

5 Nonprofit Trends at Arts and Cultural Organizations

By on Jan 22, 2014


Earlier this month, Mary Beth Westmorland shared how technology will shape the nonprofit sector in 2014. As always, I read this article through the lens of our arts and cultural customers. How can these themes make a positive impact on the local museum or symphony? Are the same trends applicable?

As a result, I put together my perspective on this game changing technology for arts and cultural organizations.


Mobile is no longer something that makes you different or cool as an organization, it’s an expectation of your visitors and patrons. According to a study from PR Web, 28% of total web traffic is from mobile devices, which is up 67% year over year! That means almost one in three visitors to your website is from a mobile device. Is your website optimized for mobile devices? If not, it needs to be.

Unique to the arts and cultural space is the need for leveraging mobile devices for tickets. You should be offering visitors and patrons the opportunity to buy tickets on their smartphone and then use their phone as their ticket for admission. I’ve written before about the importance of mobile ticketing and this is just another reminder that your organization needs to be leveraging this technology.


Data is quickly becoming the new equalizer in the for profit world and data can be leveraged in the same way in the nonprofit world. We have access to more data than ever and our visitors and patrons expect us to use it. If they told you they like to sit on the aisle seat they expect you to know that every time they book tickets.

Data can also be used to cultivate personalized interactions with future donors. As ticketing organizations, we have the advantage of gathering data when people visit us. This allows us to get a feel for their attachment to our organization as well as determine their interests. Using this data you can begin to increase your donor acquisition efforts and build relationships that last for years to come.


Software will continue to be the tool that drives results. Using a simplistic example, a builder doesn’t want to buy a drill bit, they want to buy a hole in the board. If there is a simpler, better way to get a hole than a drill bit, they will use that option. Similarly, organizations will seek software not for the technical specifications but for the results that it drives.

In arts and cultural organizations, the desired result is increased revenues and the way to get there is through creating connections and relationships with visitors, patrons, and donors. Organizations will continue to look for tools provide the entire view of a person (i.e. what they buy tickets for, what they’ve given to, what they are members of) rather than fragmented software tools that require them to reconcile data between tools.


Organizations never bought servers because they thought they were pretty or fun to maintain. They bought them because they were required to support the software tools that drove their business. There is now a better way. Organizations are increasing moving their software applications to the cloud so they no long have to worry about the support and infrastructure that a server requires AND the cloud provides a more reliable and secure place to store data.

Arts and cultural organizations are benefiting from the cloud because it allows them to take their data with them. Development Directors are walking the halls of the museum and able to look up a member’s benefits from their mobile device. Lines are being busted because the ticket counter can now check people in with tablets and scanners rather than requiring everyone to wait in line. Tech staff is no longer working late nights to support events in case the servers hiccup because the software is hosted on mainframes that are more reliable that in house servers. And Executive Directors are spending less money on technology support because of the cloud’s cost savings.

Social Media

Your constituents are talking and it’s time for you to join the conversation. Social media usage is growing and everyone is getting involved. According to socialmediatoday the fastest growing segment of social media users are aged 45-55, meaning it is no longer just for the younger generation. Social media is a viable tool for engaging your mature constituents who often have deeper pockets.

One of the biggest social media challenges is giving people something to talk about. Fortunately for arts and cultural organizations, there are new exhibits, shows, and displays that you can engage your visitors and patrons with. There are many ways to use platforms like Twitter to engage your visitors and we know that engaged visitors are more likely to become members and donors, so start today!

What other trends are you seeing in arts and cultural technology for 2014? Are you preparing your organization to take advantage of these new tools?

photo credit: Flickr



Ryan King is the Senior Channel Marketing Manager for Arts and Cultural Organizations. Ryan has over 5 years experience working with nonprofits to increase their revenues via fundraising, ticketing, and online marketing. Follow Ryan on Twitter for tips on fundraising and marketing: @wryan_ki


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