Ruth Blythman on diversifying income streams as an artist
We spoke to musician, producer and 2018/2019 Match Lab recipient Ruth Blythman about the need to upskill through new experiences, creating ongoing donor relationships and the importance of authentic communication in shaping a successful fundraising campaign.
Tell us about why you applied for MATCH Lab?
The reasons I applied for MATCH Lab were two-fold; donation doubling and upskilling. Doubling my donations through Creative Partnerships Australia was too good an opportunity to ignore given that I knew I had the capacity to raise funds to support my campaign. The content within the MATCH Lab clinic also really excited me. (Arts nerd alert!)
As a musician and a producer, I continue to see how important it is to establish a sustainable career by diversifying income streams rather than only relying on performance fees or grants. Given the reduced funding on offer from local, state and federal governments there is a spotlight on donor development schemes at the moment. With this in mind, I wanted to put myself in a position to upskill in an area that would be really valuable to myself, my company and any organisation I may work with in the future.
The funding I received through this program went towards my professional development in Europe in the operatic industry.
What was your strategy going into the campaign?
The strategy behind my campaign was to:
- Engage with individuals from my pre-existing network who had already expressed a desire to support me in the past
- Speak to these individuals with honesty, passion and clarity about how their donation would be used
- Communicate the long term impact their support would have on my career and the sector at large.
You had a lot of support from various streams. How did you facilitate relationships with donors to achieve such a great level of support?
Even though my relationships were preexisting, I still find it really hard to ask for help so this pushed me outside of my comfort zone big time! I got some great tips from the clinic which made all of the difference. These were just a few which helped me a great deal:
- Have personal, face to face contact with your potential donor whenever possible
- Know your pitch inside out
- List three impacts that spring from your project
Last but certainly not least, engage them with your work. Invite them to a performance or if that’s not possible, share high-quality materials with them which showcase your work.
You included an authentic campaign messaging in your campaign where you were able to clearly articulate your main messages. Any tips for creating an authentic ask?
Make sure your campaign message is simple, accessible and sincere. Depending on your discipline, share footage, music clips or excerpts of your written work because that shows the beauty and value of what you do. The power of your work will speak for itself.
Don’t be scared to have an authentic conversation from your heart, then you will tap into why what you do is so important, and people will respond to that.
One of your donors decided to become a repeat donor. Tell us about this and how important it is to have this ongoing support.
Yes, one of my donors has committed to supporting me as an artist with a regular gift every year and has already donated to me twice since the MATCH Lab campaign took place. We have sincere respect for one another, and I speak with them on a monthly basis sharing updates on my development and vision for the ways in which I plan to contribute to the sector at large in the future.
This means my donor feels deeply connected to and engaged with my work which is what I want! Their financial support is continuing to have an impact on my artistic output, and I want them to know they are an integral part of my career in the arts.
Opportunities come in waves and having ongoing support not only alleviates financial burden but also reminds me that there are people who care about what I do and believe I can positively contribute to society through my music-making.
One tip for anyone who is thinking about applying for MATCH Lab?
Plan! During your planning process be kind and honest with yourself thinking about how you can maximise your skills and network to achieve a realistic donation target and build long term relationships with donors.
Government support is getting more and more competitive to obtain which means not everyone will be selected who applies for the MATCH Lab campaign. If you are, fantastic! It’s a wonderful opportunity to enhance your donor development skills and double your donations.
If you’re not successful this time, consider the application process as an opportunity to think strategically about how you can pull your resources to put together an amazing campaign, then execute that awesome plan and apply next year showing evidence of your experience and progress.