Let's start the blogging year with some good news – or, as Jonathan Jones of the Guardian called it 'a lovely piece of news with which to start the year'.
The campaign, run by the Art Fund and the National Trust, to save Brueghel's 'The Procession to Calvary' has been successful. In just three months, an impressive £2.7 million was raised to buy the painting, which will now stay on permanent display at Nostell Priory, in Yorkshire.
The success of the campaign has received a great deal of positive media coverage over the past few days. In these austere times, journalists and commentators seem pleasantly surprised by how generously people have given (£680,000 came from Art Fund and National Trust members, supporters and members of the public). Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, also made a comment on the campaign's success. While Jonathan Jones of the Guardian, very kindly called it 'clever'.
Having worked with the Art Fund to produce the print element of their campaign, I can give a little insight into how it worked.
One particularly effective part of the campaign was the online/offline integration. So if by any chance, you've made it your New Year's resolution to better integrate your fundraising this year, I can share a great example. And as the digital element wasn't produced by us here at Bluefrog, you'll know I'm not being biased when I comment on it (!)
But let's start with the creative challenges of raising money for this particular work of art. If you haven't seen the painting, just click here, and the difficulties will become apparent.
This is an incredibly detailed painting - a postcard was never going to do it justice it. And within it are many allusions which most of us need a little help to understand or recognise. That's why we decided to mail both cold and warm audiences a fabulous A3 (big!) reproduction of the painting, complete with a guide (on the reverse) to many of the key scenes. You can see one version of the pack here.
Art Fund members and supporters also received e-mails at key points of the campaign.
The web pages developed for the campaign used similar messaging and show exactly what needs to be done to maximise online giving. The latest research I've seen suggests that between 17-50% of donations to a mailing pack will be made online. Here's what stood out for me in what the Art Fund did online:
1. On the Art Fund home page, the dynamic area at the top of the page (that may charity sites have) is used to promote the campaign.
2. The campaign home page allows donors to explore the rich detail of the painting online, with a commentary (it is an online version of the reproduction enclosed in the pack).
3. Donors are thanked publicly by name.
4. The momentum of the campaign is kept high with a steam of new stories, including celebrity/artist support for the campaign.
In addition, the Art Fund used their newsletter to support the campaign (again, nothing to do with me so no ulterior motives in my comments).
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll realise that this is not the first time I've featured the Art Fund's work. So I'll finish by explaining the reasons why I think their fundraising is so effective.
1. They only launch an appeal when a great work of art is under threat (not because it's January and the schedule says so).
2. There's always a target (the amount needed to buy the painting or precious object).
3. There's always a sense of urgency and a deadline (whenever the painting or precious object will go to the open market or auction).
4. It's always possible to instantly understand what will be lost if the fundraising fails (the work of art will disappear from public view).
5. Every campaign is integrated print/digital/pr and events in galleries (the work of art under threat is usually displayed so you can take a look at it - potentially for the last time).
For more information about integrating on and offline, this post from Mark is pretty useful.