Applied Marketing Research Final Report


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Applied Marketing Research Final Report

  1. 1. Understanding private theatre donations A study of an arts organisation’s current donors Researchers David Gustafsson Nitasari Djajalaksana Joey Tseng Paris Ma Imelda Yunianti University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 22/10/2009 Applied Marketing Research MARK5811
  2. 2. Sydney 16/11/2009 Dear reader, This applied marketing research project was undertaken for an arts organisation in Sydney. The information from the study is confidential and the organisation’s name together with other sensitive information has been removed from the report. The anonymous arts organisation will in the report be referred to as “the arts organisation”. //David Gustafsson ii
  3. 3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The arts organisation is a non-profit charity organisation operating in the theatre business in Australia. Each year the arts organisation organises three to four major plays that are preformed all around Australia. The theatre education programs are, in the same way as theatre productions, aimed to students from all over Australia. The company relies to 30 % of private donations. With this background this study has examined the following seven objectives relating to donor attitudes of charities in general (1); particular awareness of The arts organisation (2); motives for engagement (3); expectations for involvement (4); perception of current communication and programs (5); future involvement intentions (6) and perceptions form donors on how The arts organisation can improve (7). The method the study has used to achieve the objectives is a focus group on current donors to the arts organisation. The focus group methodology benefits from a clear budget advantage and in depth knowledge investigation and is therefore suitable for this study. The focus group took place at the arts organisation’s Headquarters and contained eight randomly selected participants from the target population of 325 current donors. The data from the focus group has been analysed by transcript-based analysis. A transcript has been constructed verbatim from the group with code marking that is used for referencing in the findings section. The findings section report the findings of the focus group together with a comparison of the concurrent research studies that is done by a focus group on the art organisation’s subscribers and a survey to all donor segments. The main findings of the focus group are:  The donors consider it important to donate to charities and do so for other charities apart from the art organisation with both time and money.  The donors are more aware of the productions in comparison to the education programs, which could be explained by a higher level of personal involvement.  The motives of donors to engage are among others the art organisation’s excellent performances, education programs that help people fulfilling their dreams and tax break.  The donors expect more special treatment from the art organisation, more involvement in organisation and to get access to special targeted information.  The donor perception differs between the art organisation’s communication and programs. The participants show positive responses regarding the programs of the art organisation, but are not satisfied with its communication.  The respondents claimed that they are willing to be more engaged in the art organisation in the future.  The participants believe that the art organisation can develop the donor relationship by improving communication channel, getting more media coverage, offer special packages and give more incentives to attract donors. The major recommendations from this report are that the art organisation should make use of donors willing to give their time to the company to increase the perceived involvement and reduce costs. However, donors should not be deciders. Moreover, this report recommends that the art organisation should implements better web services with access to discussion forums, video material from plays, back stage material and interviews. The art organisation’s Current Donor Relationship Management program iii
  4. 4. should also include theatre interest groups for donors to discuss and act theatre to generate increased involvement. The art organisation should also release their plays on DVD and arrange package deals with accommodation, dinner and theatre. iv
  5. 5. TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 Introduction .............................................................................................................................................. 1 1.1 Background ...................................................................................................................................... 1 1.2 Literature review ........................................................................................................................... 3 1.3 Management decision problem and research objectives ............................................... 4 2 Research Methodology ......................................................................................................................... 7 2.1 Research design rationale .......................................................................................................... 7 2.2 Research design .............................................................................................................................. 7 2.3 Limitations with the design .................................................................................................... 10 2.4 Data collection .............................................................................................................................. 11 2.5 Data analysis ................................................................................................................................. 14 3 Findings .................................................................................................................................................. 15 3.1 Findings from the study ........................................................................................................... 15 3.2 Findings from the focus group on subscribers ................................................................ 32 3.3 Findings from the survey ......................................................................................................... 33 4 recommendations ................................................................................................................................ 34 4.1 Donor attitudes toward charities and non-profits in general and towards the art organisation ............................................................................................................................................... 34 4.2 Determine general awareness of the art organisation’s fundraising activities and programs............................................................................................................................................. 36 4.3 Describe donors and their motives for engagement and involvement with The art organisation ........................................................................................................................................ 37 4.4 Measure expectations from donors for their involvement with the art organisation ............................................................................................................................................... 37 4.5 Evaluate donor perceptions of current the art organisation communications and programs ..................................................................................................................................................... 39 4.6 Ascertain intentions of donors with respect to future involvement with the art organisation ............................................................................................................................................... 39 4.7 Determine donor perceptions and thoughts of how the art organisation can improve donor relationships and retention strategies ............................................................. 41 Bibliography ....................................................................................................................................................... i Appendices ....................................................................................................................................................... iii v
  6. 6. 1 INTRODUCTION This study has been undertaken behalf of the client “the art organisation” that has a need to better understand their donor community. In this report the method and findings of the qualitative focus group that was conducted on the art organisation’s current donors are reported together with the researchers’ recommendations. 1.1 BACKGROUND 1.1.1 THE ART ORGANISATION The art organisation is a non-profit charity organisation operating in the performing arts in Australia. The daily operation is equally divided in two main areas; theatre productions and education. Each year the art organisation organises three to four major plays that are performed all around Australia. This includes geographical coverage from large cities such as Sydney at the Opera House to remote locations with small population. This is made possible with flexible actors and an overall business objective “to bring Shakespeare to everyone”1. The theatre education programs are, in the same way as theatre productions, aimed to students from all over Australia. An example of the programs that are given is the Interactive Distance Learning program (The art organisation, 2009). The art organisation has an annual turnover of $AUD 9.5millon which can be derived from sales 52% (tickets for theatre productions and education programs), government 18% and private support 30%. The private support originates from corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants from philanthropic organisations and donations from individuals. The individual donations category includes directed donations to specific programs and unconditional donations. For the unconditional donations’ the art organisation can only speculate on what actually motivates donors to make donations (The art organisation, 2009). The art organisation currently segment donors into three groups depending on their status of giving. The groups are current donors, lapsed donors and potential donors (The art organisation, 2009). The current donors are the most important group since they are actually donating money. The donors to the unconditional cast are segmented in different stages based on amount of donation. Due to confidentiality figure 1 has been removed. The different segments receive special treatment based on their importance. Also lapsed and potential donors are treated as segments (The art organisation, 2009). Some of non-profit organisations, including the art organisation, have charity-tax- concession, which makes these organisations deductible-tax-recipients. A deductible tax recipient does not have to pay income tax on the money raised by donations and the donations made by donors are to tax deductable (The art organisation, 2009). To make a 1The art organisation’s representative, responsible for private donations The art organisation , UNSW Research Brief presentation, 2009-07-23, UNSW 1
  7. 7. valid tax deductive donation the donor has to give money, not time or resources, and fulfil the terms that is stated by the Australian government (Australian Government, 2009). 1.1.2 FUNDRAISING OF AUSTRALIAN THEATRE Currently, Australian theatre companies are facing a tough situation with fund shortage. The government of Australia does not support the theatre companies as much as in 80’s. Besides, the lack of innovation and less creative production result in less and less audiences of theatre (Pogit, 2009; Hibbert & Home, 1996). Meanwhile, current global recession also influences the fundraising of Australia (Horin, 2009). In the cultural domain of the non-profit organisations the private donors are not the main sources of income, but still significant2. As a non-profit organisation in the performing arts the art organisation has a noteworthy incitement to understand their donors and their motives to be able to maximize revenue. 2 See Australian Bureau of Statistics, < Issue)~Main+Features~Culture+and+recreation?OpenDocument>, retrieved (2009-08-01), where private donations accounts for 10 percent of the total income. 50 percent of the income generally originates from sales of products or services (which also is the case for The art organisation). 2
  8. 8. 1.2 LITERATURE REVIEW Normally, one of five donors only gives to an organisation once (Bennet, 2006). There is usually a great distinction of the value different donors have to the organisation and this makes Bennet (2006) to suggest that the charity should focus on retaining such donors via building relationships. Loyal donors are often more valuable than one-givers. Improving donor loyalty by 10 percent can affect the Return on Investment by as much as 150 percent (Sargeant & Woodliffe, 2007). To build donor relationships information is needed to streamline the offer according to donors’ expectations. Such information has been gathered in this research study of the art organisation and this will help the art organisation to understand their donors and then build lasting relationships. The length of a donor relationship is affected by the involvement the donor feels in the organisation. The frequency and value of donation are correlated to the lifetime of the donor relationship. Normally, frequent donors of a small amount tend to be loyal as well as donors with less frequency that gives larger sums. Donors that have more connection with an organisation are likely to be in a long lasting relationship (Bennet, 2006; Sargeant & Woodliffe, 2007). Sargeant and Woodliffe (2007) also found that factors such as service quality, risk, trust and shared beliefs affect donor loyalty. It is important that the donor can trust the organisation to spend the funds efficiently in a service that is in line with the donor’s perceptions. Dedicated programs are a way to ensure that the donation goes to a purpose that is in line with the donor’s perception of good service quality. A study of what is most important for donors when selecting organisation (van Iwaarden & van der Wiele, 2009) concludes that the type of charity and effectiveness of the charity’s activities are the two most important factors. However, in the study respondents did not seem to think that low overhead costs were important when selecting charity, which contradicts the need for an efficient organisation. Hence the most important factor is the type of charity. This is in line with what was important for building donor loyalty. Donors tend to stick to organisations with the same preferences. Supphellen and Nelson (2001) concludes that donors can be divided into three different categories; analysts, relationists and internalists. The analysts are characterized by high involvement and choose organisation based on trust and a belief that the charity is good and has a good cause. Opposite of relationists, analysts finds the cause and action of the charity as more important than the involvement and relationship with the organisation. The internalists motivates donation by the act of giving as such. Since the competition is fierce among non-profit organisations and the most value steam from loyal donors the art organisation would benefit in targeting donors that seek a relationship. The analysts should of course be gained by providing the best operations and value in the non-profit theatre business, which corresponds to one of the objectives of this study. Internalists might be hard to keep among the current donors, which is one of the causes that explain the category of lapsed donors. Schlegelmilch et al. (1997) have made a comprehensive literature review of donor characteristics that tend to affect the amount of donation. Demographic characteristics such as gender and age affect the donated amount. Females tend to be more open to giving than male and donations tend to increase until the age of 65, thereafter decline. Donations also have a propensity for being related to income in the way that people with 3
  9. 9. large income and small income tend to donate, whereas the middle segment are relatively more sceptic. This applied well to the art organisation since their donor base largely consist of older people with high income levels. Schervish (1997) means that minor and major donors have the same drivers for donating to an organisation. What differentiates the groups are the amount of influence and need to be seen that a major donor often has. One objective of this study has been to look at this need for influence and how it is seen from the donors of the art organisation. The art organisation has specifically stated that they don’t wish to have donors influencing the contents of the plays. The study has under this constraint suggested means for making donors involved in other ways since involvement has been found to be very important for the donors. Moreover, Schlegelmilch’s et al. (1997) review declares that people that have perceptions of self generosity is associated with amount of donation. This is also suggested by Yavas, Riechen and Parameswaran (1980) who state that donors to charity have a strong need to be seen as caring and generous. Religion, financial security, attitudes towards the charity and perceptions of efficiency are all positively associated with the amount of donation (Schlegelmilch et al., 1997). Schlegelmilch’s et al. (1997) study was general for the charity industry and it could of course be questioned if it applies to the art organisation. A key question of this study has been to investigate what motivates a donor to give. As previously explained the art organisation is a deductible- tax-recipient which in many studies has been shown to be an important factor for donor decision-making (Clary & Snyder, 1995; Schervish, 1997). This study also examines if this is the case for the art organisation’s donors. One particular study of interest has been found that focus on art and giving in United Kingdom (Sargeant, Lee & Elaine, 2002). The study revealed that donor motives is important for giving and that they often are in line with broad literature on charitable giving, but that each organisation need to justify what is important in the particular case. The study concluded donors to be:  Older with higher income and education  Likely to participate in several art forms  Socially mobile and motivated to attend through aesthetic yearning  In the early or late stage of a family lifecycle  Socialised to the arts as a child 1.3 MANAGEMENT DECISION PROBLEM AND RESEARCH OBJECTIVES The problem background has been broken down into five specific issues that serve as the management decision problem. These issues have been stated by the client the art organisation and serve as the basis for what this study has investigated.  Management want to know how to establish a greater ability to target markets and allocate resources more effectively.  Management want to know how to develop more successful promotions and communications of programs. 4
  10. 10.  Management wants to develop a greater understanding of what donors expect from their support to the art organisation.  Management wants to gather an empirical basis to inform strategies and action plans for greater donor retention and acquisition.  Management wants to find ways to form long term relationships with donors in order to increase the total revenue. In order to address the management decision problem specific information has been collected. The information has been collected from a focus group study. First of all it was interesting to examine the art organisation’s donors in the context of current research. Information has been gathered on how the donors of the art organisation look upon charities in general. Do they contribute to more charities than the art organisation? Are their general giving financial or in volunteering? How do they differentiate different charities? Whose role is it to assist non-profit organisations, government, individual or both? After putting the art organisation in a general context that will be compared against prior research it is important to collect information to address the management decision problem directly with the study. Information has to be collected on current association, thoughts on improvement and future vision. The current association includes what motivates the donors to give including positive and negative associations with the art organisation. Also it has been of interest to investigate how aware the donors are of the broad activities the art organisation has to offer. One hypothesis from the art organisation has been that donors are more aware of the productions than for example scholarships for students and teachers that the art organisation also offers. When looking at the improvement and future vision for the art organisation it is of interest to investigate what the donors think in this issue. Where should the art organisation extend? What are they doing well and what can they do more of? Also communications with the donor public is important to study. How do the donors see the relationship with the art organisation and is there something that could be changed? To improve the relationship with the donors, information has also been gathered on which benefits the donors expect to receive from a relationship with the art organisation. Finally the donors have been asked for information on what they think could be good actions for the art organisation to take for getting more donors involved in the company. Based on the management decision problem and need for information the following marketing research objectives have been formulated and used in the study:  Determine donor attitudes toward charities/non-profits in general and towards the art organisation.  Determine general awareness of the art organisation’s fundraising activities and programs.  Describe donors and their motives for engagement and involvement with the art organisation.  Measure expectations from donors for their involvement with the art organisation.  Evaluate donor perceptions of current the art organisation communications and programs. 5
  11. 11.  Ascertain intentions of donors with respect to future involvement with the art organisation.  Determine donor perceptions and thoughts of how the art organisation can improve donor relationships and retention strategies. 6
  12. 12. 2 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY To answer the research objectives and the art organisation’s specific problem a qualitative exploratory research study has been conducted on the current donor group. The study has been conducted by means of a focus group where the research team met with a sample of donors to discuss questions covering the marketing research objective. 2.1 RESEARCH DESIGN RATIONALE Focus group research is a suitable research method to use for approaching the art organisation’s research objectives. Regarded to Lukas et al. (2004, p.123) “the final goal of focus group research is to provide researchers and ultimately decision makers as much information as possible about how people regard the topic of interest”. Focus group is a type of qualitative research, and is a comprehensive way to explore the in-depth meaning and the truth of the response from the respondents. “Qualitative research offers insights into attitudes, beliefs, motives and behaviours” (Malhotra, et al., 2008). This is in line with the marketing research objectives for the study that among others strives to determine attitudes, motives and perceptions. The answers to these questions are not straightforward and could therefore not easily be examined by for example a survey. Apart from motives and perceptions focus group data play a critical role in identifying marketing problems or opportunity situations (Lukas, et al., 2004). Conducting focus group is therefore a good way to use for obtaining insight on the donors’ engagement. The conversation process of the focus group style generates new ideas or reveals the donor’s hidden view. This is done by gently probing the donor to give a deeper explanation. One example of this can be taken from the focus group that this report analyses. A sensitive question in this group where weather the art organisation’s deductible-tax-recipient status had a major influence on any donor to give. The question was not asked directly but due to the context of the group it could be answered. Furthermore different participants can motivate each other to comment or share their perspectives in the comfortable interview environment (Lukas et al., 2004). 2.2 RESEARCH DESIGN The marketing research design that has been used for this study can be divided into different stages. The stages are depicted in figure 2 and are described in this section. Target Phone Sampling Focus group Execution, population: screening and frame: 325 particioners: 8 analysis and 325 current screening current donors donors report writing donors questionnare Figure 1. The figure illustrates the process of the research design. The design of the study has been made from the selection of target population via sampling of the focus group partitioners to the execution of the focus group and analysis of the result. 7
  13. 13. First of all the target population has been defined as all the current donors to the art organisation. This group consists of 325 donors that have donated various amounts of money in the past twelve months (The art organisation, 2009). The decision to choose the current donor group can be motivated since this group was most likely to be able to answer the marketing research objectives. Current donors were also most likely to be the group who has most desire for the welfare of the company and that could be able to make the largest contribution to the purpose of the study. Since the study is constrained to one focus group the decision of looking at current donors could also be motivated since they are most valuable to the art organisation. Prospective donors have been studied by another research team concurrent to this study and their results will be compared with the findings of this study. This will be done in chapter 3.2 after the findings of this study have been reported. The target population in this study, the current donors, is equal to the sampling frame since all 325 donors is registered as donors in The art organisation’s database and can be contacted to participate in the study. The current donors are segmented into seven stages within the annual giving program, which begins with general donations and thereafter stage one to five (see figure 1, page 2). According to the information provided, there are 57 people in stage one and 47 people in stage two. However, the numbers of donors decrease to only 14 people when looking at stage three. Liamputtong (2009) suggests that a homogenous group of partitioners in terms of (among others) educational background, occupation and status within the community allows for more free flowing conversations in a focus group. Moreover different backgrounds can restrict openness and sincerity of the discussion. With the prior research from chapter 1 in mind it was believed that donors to the art organisation are from a wealthy background and tend to like theatre. When studying current donors the best criteria for homogeneity is how long each donor has been involved with the company. This study has therefore looked at current donors that have been involved with the art organisation for a substantial amount of time, but not necessarily donated during the whole period. The criteria were set to more than five years involvement. Liamputtong (2009) further argues that a heterogeneous approach, with different participants, will maximize the possibility of exploring subjects from different perspectives. It were therefore of interest to not have a completely homogenous group. To give the group some variation donors were selected from the general donation stage of between $250 and $499 to stage four with donations between $5000 and $9999. This made it possible to study some of the differences and the reasons for donors in the upper segment to give more. Moreover Liamputtong (2009) has suggested that it is ideal if the participants not know each other beforehand so that the quality of information can be enhanced. Therefore donors were sampled from the sampling frame independently. Hesse-Biber and Leavy (2006) also addresses the issue of homogenous versus heterogeneous groupings and conclude that homogenous groups are more suitable when a topic is to be investigated in depth whereas heterogeneous groups are better when a broad understanding is sought. The marketing research objectives for this study calls for both breadth and depth which further motivates the balance between homogenous and heterogeneous participants that were chosen for the study. 8
  14. 14. The participants of the focus group were contacted and invited by telephone. A representative from the art organisation randomly called one donor from the sampling frame and asked for interest in participating in the focus group. The interest was large from all donors that were called and there was no problem to gather enough participants. Since the interest was high the bias from potential negative donors was small. The script that was used for contacting participants can be found in appendix 1. According to Brown (2005) the most common form of decision-making is when both parties cooperate. This is done two of three times when donations are made. Of the remaining one-third the wife is more than twice as likely to be in charge. Even if the decider is not paying for the actual donation, (s)he makes sure that it is done. When screening the partitioners the phone interviewer specifically asked for the decider to attend the interview. In the cases with joint decision-making in a couple only one were asked to participate (see appendix 1). When the participants arrived to the focus group they were asked to fill in a screening questionnaire (see appendix 2). Results from the screening questionnaire are summarized in appendix 3. The screening questionnaire has been used to ensure that the participants actually were current donors and that they had been involved with the art organisation for a long time. Half of the participants have been involved with the art organisation since the opening season 1991. This is included in the 75% that has been involved for more than 10 years. Everyone that participated in the focus group has been involved for more than five years. A1, Involvment with Bell 5-10 years 2; 25% over 10 years 6; 75% Figure 2. The figure answers the question “how long ha ve you been involved with the art organisation?” for the participants in the study. The focus group had eight participants which according to Liamputtong (2009) is an optimal number. With more than 12 participants it is hard to get everyone’s opinion, with less than six it is hard to maintain a discussion flow. To ensure that enough participants turned up the participants were called up a second time the day before the focus group. This gave a certainty that seven people were going to come the day of the focus group, an eighth person was uncertain. Eight people finally turned up due to that one partitioner came on the wrong day. Since this partitioner came late the questionnaire were not filled in until after the group and it was assumed that the partitioner that came late was the one who first had been unsure to come. 9
  15. 15. Incentives for the participants to come to the interview (apart from finger food and drinks that where provided) were not told in advance. The participants came motivated by the pure invitation from the art organisation and the fact that the art organisation where requesting for their input. This minimises bias from participants that turn up only for the incentives. After the group the participants were given a box with small quotes and poems from Shakespeare printed in gold, which was an appreciated gesture. 2.3 LIMITATIONS WITH THE DESIGN The screening questionnaire (appendix 2) also asked for the amount of donation and the result shown a spread from <$250 to between $5000 and $9999 in the focus group. This is illustrated in figure 4. The result shows that one participant has been involved with The art organisation for more than ten years but only donated for less than one year with <$250. This cannot be seen by studying figure 4 but it is understood when looking at the answers (in appendix 3) in detail. The fact that one partitioner donated less than $250 and had been involved with The art organisation for a long period suggests that this participant is not a current donor, which was also confirmed by The art organisation when cross checking the list of participants against the database. The participant had accidently turned up at the wrong day since, she were expected to come for the focus group with potential donors. This is of course bias to the result of the focus group but when studying the transcript the participant did not make statements concerning current donations and can be assumed to have little effect on the result. The analysis has also been made with this in mind to reduce the bias from the participant. B1, Time of less than 1 year B2, Amount of Donation 1-3 years donation less than $250 0; 0% $250-$499 3-5 years 1; 13% 1; 12% $500-$999 2; 25% 3; 38% 5-10 years 1; 12% $1000-$2499 2; 25% 1; 12% $2500-$4999 More than 3; 38% $5000-$9999 1; 13% 1; 12% 10 years Figure 3. The figure illustrates the time of donation (left) and the figure illustrates the amount of donation (right). The time of donation is not the same as time of involvement (figure 3). Note that one participant donates less than $250. This participant came by mistake but the assumption is made that (s)he does not alter the results. This focus group study has only been conducted with one focus group on current donors and one on potential donors. This is a too small amount for giving a completeness of the donor population’s in depth insight on the marketing objectives. Malhotra et al. (2008) suggest that enough focus groups should be conducted with the same questions for the moderator to be able to anticipate the answers from the participants. This has not been the case in this study and the conclusions have to be seen under this constraint. 10
  16. 16. Although completeness cannot be reached the study still has great value to reach in depth insights for the art organisation. The study has to be seen together with the concurrent studies that are done by UNSW research groups for the art organisation. The results from the study will be compared with what has been found from the concurrent focus group on subscribers and with the results from the surveys that have been sent to all donor categories in chapter 3.2 and 3.3. The in depth insights from this study complements with the results from the qualitative survey study and will give a well covered highly reliable result to the art organisation. 2.4 DATA COLLECTION The focus group took place at the art organisation’s Headquarters. As discussed below, the focus group was conducted within a one-hour allotted time and used a semi- structured approach. Dual moderators were used to lead the group which consisted of eight participants from the annual giving program. Semi-structured A semi-structured group discussion was used in the focus group discussion as it allowed flexibility to come into play during emergent insights and allowed the moderator to further clarify the set of research questions prepared beforehand. Dual Moderator Two moderators were employed during the discussion, each with a different role. One of the moderators had a significant role in stimulating rich data from the participants by asking questions, discussing and probing for more information. The other moderator assisted discussion by taking notes and also ensured the discussion ran smoothly, i.e. kept the time. The note taker took notes of the non-verbal cues that were not captured by audio tape alone. The moderators were selected from within the research group to give the best match on six criteria that are suggested by Hair et al. (2009, p.197) to be important for a moderator: 1. Personable: The moderators should have the conversation skills to make the participants feel comfortable and be flexible with the way the focus group flow. 2. Attentive: The moderators have to pay their attention throughout the duration of the interview. 3. Professional training: The moderators of focus group have the soft skills of communication and psychology. 4. Well organised: The moderators should be prepared well and then help the interviews to be logical. 5. Objective: Moderators could not let his or her opinions influences the focus group. 6. Listens: Ideally, the fewer the moderators say the better. A good moderator listens and helps participants share more ideas. Moreover to avoid the disadvantages of an inexperienced moderator, a detailed moderator’s guide was formulated (see appendix 4). A moderator’s guide represents a detailed outline of the topics, questions and sub questions that serve as the basis for 11
  17. 17. generating the spontaneous interactive dialogue among the group participants (Lukas et al. 2004). This prevented the loss of discussion of topics, miss adjusted time consumption, ineffective use of time and also helped the moderators do a better job in moderating the discussions. The moderators also had studied the background information about the art organisation and relevant publications of the charitable giving area. This helped the moderators to better understand the participants, the context of theatre and the organisation, which facilitated for leading the discussion. Training was done in a test environment before the actual focus group in order to test the moderator guide and let the moderator learn the questions. Audiotape Audiotape was used to record the entire discussion and the participants were fully aware of its presence. The participants were informed that they were to be audio- recorded when they were contacted in the screening procedure (through the phone calls) and for a second time from the moderators in the beginning of the focus group discussion. A ‘list of participants’ sign-in sheet were handed out for the participants to give formal consent of the audio-recording and also to show that they attended the focus group discussions. A copy of the sheet template can be found in appendix 5. The participants’ is anonymous in this report and therefore the completed sign in sheet will not be presented. The advantage of audiotape is that it allowed the discussion to be captured as accurately as possible, a quality that the note takers lacked. It also provided opportunities to listen to the entire discussion again during the transcribing process. The transcript is then cross-checked with the notes taken by the moderators to ensure accuracy of information. Note taker Apart from the second moderator another note taker from the research group was present. This note taker also took notes and helped out with greeting of participants, collection of surveys and administration during the session. Running the focus group After the participants had filled in the form sign-in sheet and the screening questionnaire the focus group started. Since the moderator already had greeted each participant when (s)he arrived no time was spent with this during the focus group. The first part of the moderator script questionnaire consisted of general lead in questions. The moderator went straight on this general part and the discussion started to flow quickly. The discussion guide that was used in the group covers the topics philanthropy and attitudes towards charities in general, attitudes towards the art organisation and thoughts of what could be improved in the art organisation’s future product portfolio. The topics that were discussed in order to meet the marketing research objectives were (among others):  Philanthropy, the desire to help others.  Perceptions of charitable organisations. 12
  18. 18.  Involvement with charitable organisations including financial.  Association with The art organisation.  Motivations for decision to offer financial support.  Understanding of The art organisation’s education and access programs and perceptions of these.  What additional programs could the art organisation offer?  How can the art organisation better contribute towards arts and theatre for Sydney? NSW? Australia? The Marketing Research Objectives (MRO) and the Management Decision Problem (MDP) were addressed by the discussion guide in a logical order. The discussion guide was grouped into four main sections to cover each objective. The first section, lead in, covers the first marketing research objective by asking general questions on charities. This is important in order to compare existing research in the donation area with the findings of this study. The second section of the discussion guide, current association with the art organisation, covered marketing research objective one to three. One way that this was done by was to show a series of flash cards with activities that the art organisation does and ask the participants if they were familiar with them. Also the participants were asked to describe positive and negative aspects with the art organisation and their story for how they got involved with the company. The activities that were investigated were from both of the two main operation areas of the art organisation, plays and education programs. The activities were:  Scholarships for students and teachers in regional Australia  Online resources including discussion forums for students  A famous activity that has been removed  Mind’s eye  Extensive annual touring of theatre productions  Family productions The third part of the questions that were asked by the moderator, improving the art organisation’s current activities, covered the fifth and sixth marketing research objective. The objectives where covered by asking about how communication can be improved and how likely it was with the support to continue. The last section in the discussion guide asked directly about expected benefits from the relationship with the art organisation, which covers the fourth objective. The seventh and last objective are covered by (among others) the last question asking for donor inputs on how more donors could be bound to the company. Hence all objectives were covered by the focus group, although each section did not strictly address only the objectives as listed above. The discussion guide contained 16 questions in order to cover all the marketing research objectives. How To conduct a focus group (2005) have suggested that twelve questions are a maximum for a focus group. Due to this constraint a discussion was held with the client the art organisation who put forward that the most important sections were section two to four. Hence less time was spent on the general lead in questions. The lead in questions was grouped with the introduction and got 15 minutes together. The other most emphasized sections got 15 minutes each. In total the focus group lasted for one hour. There were two questions that therefore was not asked directly, question 13
  19. 19. 1.5 and 1.6. These are however somewhat covered by the context of the group and answered under other questions. 2.5 DATA ANALYSIS The data analysis process of this study consisted of a few important stages. These are illustrated in figure 5 below. Structured Coded, checked Final conclusion Raw transcript findings from Conclusion and structured and from audio transcript under brainstorming transcript recommendation objective Figure 4. The figure depicts the process of analysing the focus grou p data consisting of five stages. First of all the focus group data was analysed by using a transcript base analysis. This analysis began with that the audio recording was transcribed verbatim from audio to words. The “raw” transcript was then processed further so that it was easier to read and so that references to sections in the transcript could be made when analysing the findings. Appendix 6 explains how the transcript has been coded. For example, when the research team mentioned their observation from the focus group session and it applied to the objectives, they will write it down followed by a quote of what the participants said and referenced the quote by using the transcript number such as (Transcript, a<Number>). This will allow readers to find the quote from the transcript easily. The transcript was transcribed as close in time to the audio recording as possible. Some dialogues were not very audible and have therefore been cross checked against the notes. A copy of the transcript can be found in appendix 7 and the notes from moderator and note taker in appendix 8. The findings section of this report makes full use of this numbered base transcript to keep track of what was said during the focus group session to ensure accuracy of the data. The section structures the information from the transcript under each marketing research objective and used the transcript as reference for quotes and information. The data analysis process ensures that the findings are as accurate as possible so that the researchers would be able to report the findings back to the art organisation. After the findings were written and structured the researchers sat down and had a meeting brainstorming on what the findings could imply for the art organisation. These implications have been written for each marketing research objective together with the recommended action from the researchers. 14
  20. 20. 3 FINDINGS The findings section will report on findings from this study, the concurrent study on lapsed donors and the survey to both current and lapsed donors. 3.1 FINDINGS FROM THE STUDY 3.1.1 DONOR ATTITUDES TOWARD CHARITIES AND NON-PROFITS IN GENERAL AND TOWARDS THE ART ORGANISATION Summary of findings 1  The donors think that it is important to support charities apart from the art organisation: “Giving to charities is essential.” (Transcript, a3)  The participants are givers of both time and money.  Government has an important role in supporting charities including the arts, although it is unlikely that their part of the cake will increase.  There is a difference between charities. The art organisation cannot be classified as a charity in the same way as the Salvation Army.  Although a difference does exist and some charities have a higher level of importance to peoples’ lives, the donors donate to causes they believe in and are “close to their hearts”.  Donors donate to other non-profit organisations than the art organisation, including other theatre companies. Feelings about contributing to charities and non-profit organisations (q1.1) In general, most of the participants in the focus group felt that it is very important to support charities. Even though not everyone answered the question, they were all in favour. The following quotes were typical responses: “Giving to charities is essential.” (Transcript, a3) “Yes I do a reasonable amount of that. It’s not a bad thing if you can support a good cause.” (Transcript, a6) When it comes to supporting charities the participants expressed that they both gave their time and money to charities. This is expressed in the following dialogues: Moderator1: “When we speak about giving, do you prefer giving your time volunteering to charities or do you prefer financial donations?” Transcript a4: “Both!” Transcript answer number 10 explains with support from the others that everyone in the position to give has a moral obligation to help charities: 15
  21. 21. “I think it is almost an obligation of a person if they are in a position to do so, that you should support charities. And I think, both giving your time, going back to your first question, and your money are both valuable things to do, trying to do both. But now I can’t give my time to the art organisation so...” (Transcript, a10) The participant also states that (s) he is a giver of both time and money, where time is given to other charities than the art organisation. By the context of the answer it is clear that the participant also would give time to the art organisation if the possibility was given. This is also expressed by other participants in the group. None particularly stated that (s)he is only a giver of money to charities and it can of course not be excluded that this could be the case, even though all answers includes both giving of time and money. The role of government in assisting non-profit organisations (q1.2) The participants to the focus group felt that the government in Australia should be able to support charities more, in the same way as individuals have an obligation to do so. When answering the question they directly related to charities in the arts and the art organisation in particular. They felt it unrealistic that the government should increase its support to the arts. The art organisation has today a government support of 18 percent of total revenue. One participant put it forward like this: “I think that it would be wonderful if we could have […] more government support for the arts in Australia. But I think we, well in my view it is probably unlikely and an unrealistic expectation that the government is going to be able support the art more. I think the art organisation is so wonderful because the art organisation has been able to do so much in a period of time where funding has been miserable.”(Transcript, a7) Another participant strengthens the feeling that the government should be a supporter to the arts and charities but that the current level of support is not likely to increase in the nearest future: “It’ll be a perfect world if governments could support the arts entirely. But it is not quite [likely] to happen. “(Transcript, a11) A third voice that summarized the feeling of the group in a way that the group agreed on was: “[...] I think the government has the obligation to support both indirectly and directly. Indirectly through tax breaks. Directly is desirable. But I think we have to be realistic and the amount of direct substitute [is] unlikely to increase and would probably decrease.” (Transcript, a12) Feelings about non-profits in general (q1.3) Apart from general feelings about donations to charities the study has also found perceptions about and differences among charities. The participants do not believe that the art organisation can be called a charity in the same way as Barnardo’s or the Salvation Army. This was expressed by a few participants and agreed in the group (Transcript, a22 & a25). The level of criticalness is lower for the art organisation than 16
  22. 22. for example the Red Cross. One participant had hard to put it into words but the moderators could clearly understand what (s)he expressed anyway: “Ahh! You look at Barnardo’s or the Salvation Army and they,.., I mean there are so many such a range of things.” (Transcript, a14) A second participant made a comparison between Shakespeare and cancer, meaning that it is impossible to compare matters of life with pleasure: “Cure cancer or put on a Shakespeare production.” (Transcript, a15) When it comes down to an individual deciding among his or her options for donation, however, the participants do not think that everyone is obligated to donate to more life important causes. A charitable decision is about selecting one cause that you believe in among the thousands of options that exists in the market: “Yeah, I don’t think to some extent... you follow your heart in terms of who you help and who you don’t.” (Transcript, a16) The same participants develops his/her thoughts further with declaring that (s)he chooses what to support by following what (s)he believes in, which everyone seems to be agreeing on. (S)he also states that it is a great feeling to make a donation and that the feeling as such can be a driver of the donation (Transcript, a17). In line with what was previously explained to be found in the literature review section one participant expresses that trust is very important for his/her support. (S)he has previously been donating to a charity that was revealed in newspapers to be inefficient which made him/her to stop donate (Transcript, a 21). Another takes a similar approach and doesn’t judge the charity by the cause, rather the performance when stating: “…I can’t stand being rung up at home with begging, with charities asking me to give. I dislike that very much and I, I won’t do it...” (Transcript, a20) This suggests that although the cause of the charity is important it is even more important to handle the donor relationship well. The participants to the focus group do not choose charity based of its important to humanity rather based on own perceptions of how well it is performing mixed with what they “believe in”. This is perfectly in line with what was explained from previous studies in the literature review chapter. In contrary to the previous paragraph the participants put forward the idea that the art organisation’s charity ranking is higher than other theatre companies in Australia (making the comparison with e.g. Opera Australia). This is due to the education programs the art organisation offers to school children in the country (Transcript a26 & a28). By this reason the participants justify that donating and believing in the art organisation is not only a selfish aspect of fulfilling their own need of enjoying theatre, it is also a means for helping others at the same time. This means that the art organisation, apart from their competitors in the performing arts in Australia has an extra differentiating aspect that makes the art organisation unique. 17
  23. 23. What non-profits are you involved with on any level? (q1.4) This question was not answered directly by the participants with specific charities. Although the answers that did come indicated that the participants have other charities in their portfolio apart from the art organisation (Transcript, a24): “Well I have other charities that I support...” (Transcript, a25) None expressed which these sets of charities where but from the discussion it was clear that the set included other theatre companies. One participant brings up Opera Australia when discussing communication and improvement as an example where the donor communication is done better than in the relationship with the art organisation: “I mean Opera Australia sent me something before every production usually...” (Transcript, a156) This proves that the participant have a relationship with Opera Australia. Other examples that involve comparisons with theatre companies in which the participants are involved with donation are (among others) Burgeon Music Theatre (Transcript, a187), Music Theatre of Brendan Burke (Transcript, a127 & a189) and Sydney theatre company (Transcript, a196). 3.1.2 DETERMINE GENERAL AWARENESS OF THE ART ORGANISATION’S FUNDRAISING ACTIVITIES AND PROGRAMS Summary of findings 2  The donors are aware of stage productions and education programs. The level of awareness is greater for productions since the donors are personally involved.  The awareness/involvement has been assessed in the table below. The relative awareness between the activities is of most relevance. Activities have been graded with the levels unaware – aware – involved: Activity Level of awareness Scholarships for students and teachers from regional Unaware Australia Online forums Unaware/ aware A famous activity that has been removed Aware /involved Mind’s Eye Unaware/ aware Extensive annual touring of the production Involved Family productions Aware /involved The donors to the art organisation are in general aware of the art organisation when it comes to both their main areas of operation, theatre productions and education programs. As already stated the theatre programs are frequently expressed as a factor 18
  24. 24. that differentiates the art organisation and is a reason for making donations (e.g. Transcript a26 & a28). However the donors do not have a deep knowledge of activities related to the education programs in the same way they have for theatre production. One example of this is scholarships. This can be understood since the donors are not in direct contact with these activities in a deeper level than the concept as such that they read about in information from the art organisation. Production related activities directly involve the donors since they frequently visit plays. This was found when presenting the participants with cards of activities (q2.4) taken from the entire organisation. First of all the activity scholarships for students and teachers from regional Australia where presented to the donors. The answers speak for themself: “Sorry I did not know that that one happened.” (Transcript, a80) When the question was asked it became silent for ten seconds before the first answer came. The following answers indicated that the donors have seen the activity and might be aware of it but that they are far from being involved with it in the same way as for example theatre productions: “I know they do it but I would like to know more about it.” (Transcript, a81) “I think it is on their website…” (Transcript, a82) After the moderator shortly summarized the content of the activity the participants expressed: “I would say that that’s a good new story that they’re not making enough of.” (Transcript, a83) The next activity, online forums for students, is also taken from the art organisation’s education activities. Some of the participants (the younger part) directly expressed that they were aware of its existence (Transcript, a84-86), although others were clearly not aware (Transcript, a87). “Can I just say that I was unaware of it and I have been endorsed with [what] this gentleman said here that the art organisation should make more of it. Because anything that helps young people to grow in the world, get educated and find a path themselves is so important and I follow a lot of current news and I am totally unaware of both those initiatives and they are so impressive! Yeah. You should blow the trumpet a lot loader!” (Transcript, a88) The third activity, a famous activity that has been removed, was close in all practitioners’ minds. Everyone answered yes on the moderator’s question of awareness (Transcript, a89 & a90). When probing for involvement by asking if they could tell more about it; the first participant that got the question could not reply (Transcript, a91), which made another participant step in and take the answer (Transcript, a92). This indicates mixed levels of involvement among the participant where some are only aware. 19
  25. 25. After checking involvement on a famous activity that has been removed, Mind’s Eye was next to being probed. The donors where not very aware about the activity more than that it had been seen on the website: “Mmm, I’m sure it is on the website on one of the drop down menus but...” (Transcript, a103) No more answers were given on Mind’s Eye except a probing from a participant stating “if it was about play writers?” (Transcript, a104), which indicates some degree of awareness. The fifth activity was annual touring productions which everyone seemed to be involved with since the participants directly started to chatter about different plays after screaming “yes [for being aware]” (Transcript, a105). By looking at the screening questionnaire results (appendix 3, diagram A3) this can also be confirmed since all participants visit the art organisation productions two or more times per year. Finally the moderator probed for awareness on family productions. The donors where confused and did not know about the activity until the moderator probed with “Just Macbeth”, which is the name of a current family production. Everyone then seemed to have awareness with the activity and chattered about it (Transcript, a110). A few participants have seen the play, while another have had a daughter seeing it (Transcript, a112). The participants are in general more aware of theatre productions than education. The production related activities (A famous activity that has been removed, touring of productions and family productions) are closer to the participants’ daily life and contact with the art organisation since everyone is personally involved. Education programs do not have the same involvement from the participants which makes the level of awareness smaller. This finding is in line with what was put forward by the art organisation’s initial hypotheses. 3.1.3 DESCRIBE DONORS AND THEIR MOTIVES FOR ENGAGEMENT AND INVOLVEMENT WITH THE ART ORGANISATION Summary of findings 3  The art organisation’s performances are something above the ordinary. Some key words that are associated with the art organisation are risky, fresh, innovative, edgy, different and not afraid of failure.  The art organisation has a broad offer. The education programs help people fulfilling their dreams which differentiate the art organisation from an ordinary theatre company that only deals with performances and gives another dimension for justifying donation.  Tax break and a relation to the art organisation are also important causes for donation. 20
  26. 26. The focus group of current donors has found a few in depth insights about what motivates donors to give. They will here be described. To answer this objective describing donors it is also of interest to identify the demographical characteristics of donors. This has been done statistically in the concurrent focus group survey study that will be compared with this study in chapter 3.3. In this context the first part of the results from the screening questionnaire is also of interest (appendix 3, diagrams A). Due to a too small sample size the findings from the screening questionnaire cannot be generalised to be valid for the target population and is hence omitted to be extensively reported in this section. Time of relationship with the art organisation (q2.1) The participants of the focus group were, just as the donors filling in the general survey (section 3.3.), asked the question of how long they have attended to the art organisation productions. Four of the participants had been involved with the art organisation from the very beginning and they recalled the opening night outside Sydney football stadium when answering the moderator’s question. This was 1991 and the art organisation was performing “Hamlet in the Tent” (Transcript, a31-36). One of the participants in the focus group revealed (s)he was the first shareholder in the company. However two of the participants have not been involved with the art organisation for the same time period due to not knowing about the company before. The following diagram was previously presented in the methodology section and is created from the answers to the screening questionnaire. A1, Involvment with Bell 5-10 years 2;25% over 10 years 6; 75% Figure 5. The figure is illustrating time of involvement with the art organisation. Six participants have been involved for more than ten years, two found the company more recently. First motivation to become a the art organisation donor (q2.3) The donors to the art organisation are very much into the performing arts. When asked why they first became a financial donor to the company they express that there is a strong need to have a national Shakespeare company. Shakespeare is part of the English speaking human inheritance that must have a place in the future society (Transcript, a63). “I can see an absolute belief in principle that Australia needs a national Shakespeare company. “ (Transcript, a61) 21
  27. 27. “We need to keep Shakespeare alive in front of Australian audiences.” (Transcript, a62) One participant builds on this with his/her discussion on an earlier question stating that donating to The art organisation has a selfish reason; to keep Shakespeare alive in Australia for him/her being able to see productions when growing old: “...I want Shakespeare to foster and flourish in this country, I want Shakespeare to be in schools I mean there is a selfish reason for it too, I want a new cohort of Shakespeare devotees coming through so there will always be Shakespeare and a demand for Shakespeare in this country so when I am 80 I can still go...” (Transcript, a28) The education programs the art organisation has to offer is also important for other reasons. The art organisation has monopoly on this approach in Australia. The donors see education as something really important to justify a donation. The donation is not only made for the donor’s own joy, it is also via the education programs useful for more people in the community: “... the bringing it to the schools side of thing. Nobody else does that. That’s what attracts me. And that combination of, of the focus on Shakespeare and bringing it to the community rather than being a very twisted existence for your use of...” (Transcript, a71) On the topic of motivation for donating to the art organisation the participants also put forward that the edginess and freshness of a production from the art organisation was a main driver for them to come along as donors. The art organisation always manages to do something fresh and never disappoints. A few key words are high-lightened in the following quotes: “I think it is the energy and the innovation. The way the art organisation approaches their productions. A full production that scale... A lot of energy and sort of, as you say, I can go and see a very expensive Shakespeare production and could be disappointed. I never get with the art organisation.” (Transcript, a65) “They are fresh aren’t they! Yeah.“ (Transcript, a67) “Yeah they always do something different “(Transcript, a68) “They prepare to take on something risky.” (Transcript, a69) “...there is an edginess to the productions that I like because it tells me that they put their heart and not afraid of failure.” (Transcript, a78) Few participants answered directly what first motivated them to give and become a fan of the company. At the time when the art organisation started with productions ”the founder of the arts organisation” was a major driver with Oscars and a good reputation which attracted at least one participants interest (Transcript, a77). Another participant expresses that (s)he is interested in the tax breaks a donation to the art organisation give (Transcript, a73). This was not spoken straight out but implied because the 22
  28. 28. participant expressed that (s)he does not donate to the Royal British Theatre company due to that it does not give tax breaks in Australia. A major discussion point was also the art organisation’s position in the fine art society in Australia. It was put forward that many young actors that love performing arts and theatre are aiming for a place in the art organisation’s organisation. “...their aspiration is not to go over to Hollywood. Their aspiration is to join the art organisation and work with the founder of the arts organisation [Speaking of young actors]...” (Transcript, a76) “...people who have talent and energy, who wouldn’t have that sort of opportunity if the art organisation wasn’t around and he, he is a fantastic example of what... it is not private enterprise but it is. It is in a way, someone who said we would do this, and we will. He could not do this just with a government funded [organisation]... The government will do Shakespeare... You have to have an inspired person like him (the founder of the arts organisation) and his wife. What a wonderful opportunity they have given so many actors and yes, you really...” (Transcript, a74). The art organisation is seen by the participants as an opportunity for actors to develop their skills and make fresh new edgy theatre. An example is taken with a famous Australian actor now in Hollywood due to her background in the art organisation (Transcript, a73). The edginess and openness is believed to not be possible to achieve from a government controlled agency. The art organisation is appreciated by the participants to be a good solution where an individual incentive has succeeded. Strengths of The art organisation (q3.1) Looking at what motivates financial donors for the art organisation the question of donor perceptions about strengths is also of relevance. This question was put forward in the third section of the focus group where the partitioners were asked to list the strengths (and weaknesses) of the company. Much emphasise was put on the weaknesses but the strengths that were put forward are useful for understanding donor motives. “The strength is they doing all these things, the tranquil things.” (Transcript, a115) “I think its greatest strength is fabulous productions” (Transcript, a142) Another strength with the company as such that is submitted from one of the participants is the ability to give complete freedom to the producer and actors of a specific play. “What I think one of the great strengths of it is... and I sit here wonder how the hell he does it!? That, if I own this company, I would find it really difficult to give a play to someone and say, “here go and direct that,” in my company and not interfere. But it’s such a fantastic quality to be able to do that. And because of that, I suspect that’s one of the reasons why the script has such a 23
  29. 29. great variety and that each of this we spoke about. I just think it’s a fantastic thing.” (Transcript, a139) Apart from this the participants put forward many examples of weaknesses that they thought could be approved within the art organisation. This was made through comparing the art organisation with other theatre organisations that the participants donated to. Chapter 3.5 will address the issues of expectations from the participants that came up when asking about strength and weaknesses. 3.1.4 MEASURE EXPECTATIONS FROM DONORS FOR THEIR INVOLVEMENT WITH THE ART ORGANISATION Summary of findings 4  The donors expect to be treated different from the ordinary audience. Special seating must be given as well as help arranging tickets for friends.  The donors expect to be more involved in the organisation and get access to special targeted information. As indicated in the previous section, the participants’ motives in donating to the art organisation mostly involved their personal feeling and experiences, such as the love for theatre and need for a national Australian Shakespeare company. This also means that, to a certain extent, the participants have expectations from the art organisation in return of their involvement. The following quotes were typical of the views expressed: “Pretty few people are completely altruistic.” (Transcript, a187) “I think you wanna feel a little bit special, a little bit appreciated and that’s very hard to define [...]” [Transcript a186] A number of suggestions were considered during the discussion. One suggestion that all participants favoured was to keep the flow of information coming toward them, especially information regarding activities within the company. While giving their suggestions, the participants also compare the art organisation with other organisation, i.e. Opera Australia and Brendan Burke. They expressed that the art organisation should try to benchmark its communications against their competitors and make use of simple techniques such as mailing lists and e-mails, which include pre-play information and interviews. Apart from having a steady flow of information, the participants also expect good seating in return of their donation. “I mean one thing I expect this is, subscriber is good seating if I’m going to subscribe.” (Transcript, a191) The donors seem to be pleased with the current seating arrangements in the art organisation, compare to that of other organisation, including Sydney Theatre Company where good seating is not granted for the donors. The participants also expressed that it 24
  30. 30. is good to have a phone number you can call in case of changed plans before a performance when extra tickets might be needed for friends (Transcript a193 & a194). One other suggestion that the participants discussed quite comprehensively was about the level of involvement with the art organisation. Although the art organisation does have the program that allows the donors to meet with the actors and people who are involved with the plays, one participant clearly did not recognise such a program (Transcript a142). This in turn, created an argument where the donors objects the use of ‘levels’ to judge whether the donors are allowed to be in the program or not. The following quote shows their objection: “[...] I agree, I think everyone who supports the company should be invited.” (Transcript a147) The participants also explained that if the use of ‘levels’ is eliminated; the art organisation may have a greater support from their lower level donors. “[...] If you open up all this things to all your supporters and everybody starts to feel more of a family, you probably find the lower level supporters would be willing to go a bit more out of the way to give the extra 500 or a thousand dollars. That’s how you gonna save us towards, people who perhaps are not giving as much to give more.” (Transcript a151) 3.1.5 EVALUATE DONOR PERCEPTIONS OF CURRENT THE ART ORGANISATION COMMUNICATIONS AND PROGRAMS Summary of findings 5  The participants show positive responses regarding the programs that the art organisation offers. However, the communication regarding the program was perceived to be unsatisfactory.  The participants also demand more communication regarding the plays, especially pre-production communication. The participants generally have similar perception of current the art organisation communication and programs, which range between very positive responses and to some extent, responses of the art organisation’s relatively poor conducts. Impression of current programs held by the art organisation (q2.2 & q3.1) The positive responses are mostly directed to the art organisation’s program, both educational and theatre production. As indicated in the previous objectives, the participants are more aware of the theatre production programs and appeared to be very enthusiastic in discussing and sharing their personal experiences with the program. The following quotes were two of many responses that show such enthusiasm: 25
  31. 31. “I agree it is absolutely wonderful. My daughters, her English teacher, She took her class and to see more incentive... and she keep saying, ‘Why didn’t you go, why didn’t you go!?’ “ (Transcript, a112) “My children are approaching the age where it will be relevant to them.” (Transcript, a86) To some degree, their positive responses also appear as the moderator informed the participants about all the activities (they are unaware of) and the achievements that the art organisation has done until now. One such case involves the program “A famous activity that has been removed” regarding the company’s coverage. Transcript a99: “How many people a year? Moderator: 80,000” Transcript a100: “Woww!!” It is to be noted that across the whole programs, online resources, a famous activity that has been removed and family production generate the most responses, which are generally positive and supportive. Impression of communication by the art organisation (q3.3 & q3.4) On the other hand, the positive responses also draw attention to what the participants perceived were less satisfactory in the relationship with the art organisation. It appears that all of them agree about the lack of communication and the utilisation of media by the art organisation towards the participants as well as general public. They also believe that the art organisation can grow if they maximise the use of communication and media. The following quotes were typical of such responses: “The strength is they doing all these things, the tranquil things. The weakness they not making enough of them in terms of getting the message out [...] “(Transcript, a115) “[...] in terms of national outreach you would expect the art organisation to be a lot more aggressive in terms of the use of e-media because that get to those people.” (Transcript, a156) Suggestions were also given to promote the art organisation program which mostly revolved around the idea of publicity. The participants are really keen on the idea of using newspaper and ABC programs for the art organisation’s publicity. “[...] they should be capitalising matter; they should be going after their supporters and general public.” (Transcript 169) “[…] Talk to ABC and they would interview him and other people that this program... and I’m sure other outlet would too [...]” (Transcript a169) As the participants expressing their displeasure about publicity, they also feel that current communications are not enough. Several participants clearly said that they received calls and letters. They love it but all the participants emphasise on pre- 26
  32. 32. production communications (that they did not receive). In this particular topic, comparison against other companies (i.e. Opera Australia) was also discussed: “[...] Well, they are good but they are not as good as some other organisation in terms of keeping in contacts.” (Transcript a125) “I get something for a start; I get a thank you letter for the donation. I get the sort of here is the subscriptions thing. But I don’t get something before every production saying this is happening next year.” (Transcript a136) Satisfaction of current programs and communication (q3.5) The participants’ satisfaction of the art organisation’s programs and communications summarise the evaluation of donor’s perception. As indicated above, it appears that the participants show positive responses regarding all the programs that the company offers; both education program and theatre production. However, they are also upset that the art organisation does not capitalise more in communicating their programs to donors and the broad Australian public. One such example is when the moderator approached the topic of education programs. The participants were unaware of the programs but were delighted to hear it. “They need to get on the marketing so that everyone find out about these, very good.” (Transcript, a102) It is also to be noted that the participants are not satisfied with the art organisation’s communication. Although they are pleased with the thank you letter and other communication regarding their donation, they also want to be informed of the art organisation’s activities, i.e. programs and productions. Furthermore, they especially emphasise on pre-production communication. 3.1.6 ASCERTAIN INTENTIONS OF DONORS WITH RESPECT TO FUTURE INVOLVEMENT WITH THE ART ORGANISATION Summary of findings 6  The participants felt positive about the art organisation and had been a supporter for some time. This shows their passion and commitment to the art organisation that will be likely for them to continue their involvement.  The participants are passionate about Shakespeare and are very happy with how the art organisation portrays the Shakespearean plays and what they bring to the audience. Likelihood of support to continue (q3.6) “You have got a happy self-selecting group here.” (Transcript, a173) “Happy customers.” (Transcript, a174) 27
  33. 33. From what was said by the participants, they are very happy with the art organisation and will be likely to continue supporting this non-profit organisation that supports young actors to develop their skills. Therefore these participants would like to give that opportunity to these actors and showing their support by subscribing and donating to the art organisation. When asked this question, these above are the only answers give to the moderators by the participants. However, what these participants aid about The art organisation and how happy they are with their productions, their love for Shakespeare and what they received from The art organisation as a donor points towards them to continue their support for The art organisation. “I want Shakespeare to foster and flourish in this country, I want Shakespeare to be in schools I mean there is a selfish reason for it too, I want a new cohort of Shakespeare devotees coming through so there will always be Shakespeare and a demand for Shakespeare in this country so when I am 80 I can still go. There is something that is being supported, I mean. It is a degree of selfishness in there. I am supporting the art organisation because of its program. Of activities ... And that bringing Shakespeare to people who might not have had a teacher like you did (another in the group) and like I did too, who exposed us to Shakespeare when we were young and who enthused and changed my life by bringing Shakespeare in to it. I want that for other people. I want that for kids. And the art organisation reaches so many students.” (Transcript a28) From the above comment made by one of the participant, it is obvious how much they love Shakespeare and with the art organisation being one of the many performing arts companies in New South Wales that does Shakespeare, it will motivate these donors to continue supporting them so that the art organisation will be able to flourish. Time of involvement with the art organisation (q2.1) “I first attended in the tent outside Sydney football stadium. That is the first play.” (Transcript a31) “... late 80s or very early 90s when they cut loose from ... Theatre Trust.” (Transcript a36) “I was the first shareholder in the company.” (Transcript a40) From the above comments gathered from the participants, they have been supporting the art organisation for a long time. So “why stop now?” it shows their passion in supporting the art organisation and watching the productions by the art organisation and will be likely to continue supporting the company. 28
  34. 34. 3.1.7 DETERMINE DONOR PERCEPTIONS AND THOUGHTS OF HOW THE ART ORGANISATION CAN IMPROVE DONOR RELATIONSHIPS AND RETENTION STRATEGIES Summary of findings 7  Some of the participants feel that the art organisation could improve their communication to their donors. The art organisation was compared against other performing arts companies such as Opera Australia.  Getting more media coverage can be a way to retain more donors.  The participants all agreed that with more incentives, the art organisation will attract more and/or retain donors. E.g. discounted tickets, packaged deals, etc.  The participants also feel that ”the founder of the arts organisation” should have a succession strategy to endure that the art organisation will continue to be around. This will give their donors comfort knowing that the company will continue to do well and their support will be recognised. Communication improvement (q4.2) The participants mentioned that they receive e-mails and letters from the art organisation. However, one participant mentioned that the art organisation is lacking in the communication department with their subscribers. “I don’t think the art organisation is as good at loving its supporters as some other organisations are. In terms of keeping in touch, keeping the flow of information.” (Transcript, a123) “They are good but they are not as good as some other organisations in terms of keeping in contacts.” (Transcript, a125) The participants compared the art organisation to Opera Australia and thought that they got the communicating with the donors down to “a fine art”. The art organisation should take more proactive actions to communicate with their donors even if it is just an e-mail to inform their subscribers and donors about their upcoming productions in Sydney (Transcript a134). Although the participants do get the occasional newsletters, phone calls and e-mails, they felt that the art organisation should take more actions to make them feel recognised and more special like Opera Australia does with their supporters. To back up the previous statement, (Transcript a156) proves that the participants feel that the art organisation should be more aggressive in the use of e-media to reach the nationwide supporters of the art organisation. Areas to extend and prioritise (q4.3) “I would like them to make a film.” (Transcript, a202) This comment that one participant made had the others talking about the possibility of the art organisation making a DVD out of all the productions they made. The DVD could, for example, contain recorded plays, interviews with actors, directors or other extra 29
  35. 35. material. They believe that with the DVD, The art organisation will be able to reach out to more audiences and maybe get them interested in the performing arts. “I think the more reach, I know that the art organisation does very well with it. But the more reach of places that they can get to, the better” (Transcript, a206). Also, the participants thought that if the art organisation had the money they should put up one extra production per year. Not only that, it would be good to have extra Shakespeare plays for all Shakespeare fans (Transcript, a208). The participants were all very excited while talking about expanding the art organisation’s activities (i.e. their stage productions and their other activities). A participant said that The art organisation is great due to that they are doing the other activities such as education but (s)he would not want The art organisation to defer away from their core activity which is to produce Shakespearean plays; “There needs to have a bit of balance in between” (Transcript a209). Ideas of encouraging more people to donate or engage in the art organisation (q4.4) In regards to this topic, some of the participants were quite reluctant to express their opinion. One in particular said “No” when asked (Transcript a215), indicating that it is up to the art organisation to find ways to improve their strategies. However, the others were pretty happy expressing opinions that might be useful for the art organisation regarding how best to grow the donor base. “I think the general focus on more publicity would take care of that to some extent” (Transcript a216). As mentioned earlier in the findings, the participants thought that the art organisation should do more publicity in regards to their productions and the activities they are providing to increase awareness. It might spark interest for some to want to become a donor. Moreover, for non Shakespeare fans, the art organisation could bend the norm a little and put up non Shakespearean plays to target these groups of people to become interested in the art organisation productions because of the actor’s great acting. “I think if more people realised the breadth. It wasn't just putting on Shakespearean plays, they would become more interested. And I think that's one of the strengths probably of doing one of the non-Shakespearean plays as well. You might be able to get your friends to come along to that, and say, “Look just... What do you think of the acting and the performance and the production?” And I'd say Wow.” (Transcript, a217) The participants also felt if the art organisation can give discounts of free tickets to their donors and potential donors as a marketing tool, it might make them more interested in the company (Transcript, a220). Another organisation in Sydney sent out two-for-one vouchers to all its “patrons” to give to a friend. This promotion was successful as the patrons feel it is “value-for-money” compared to for example visiting a cinema (Transcript, a222). Another thing that was mentioned during the session was that the founder of the arts organisation, that now has a significant role in the organisation, should have a 30
  36. 36. succession strategy in place so that all the good things that he has done will be continued even after he has passed (This was mentioned as a context). “You’ve got to be giving your key supporters, EVIDENCE, COMFORT that there is a succession strategy in place, because if they're comforted by it, then that goes out, to your broader support base.” (Transcript, a239) Some participants felt that a subscription package is a good idea such as packaging the art organisation performance with a dinner after (Transcript, a261). This was also expressed by one donor not from Sydney that thought it would be great to have a trip and hotel. Finally it was expressed that a donation to the art organisation should be able to be given away to friends. One participant arranged this by herself by making a donation to the art organisation in the friend’s name and writing a card that she gave to the friend on his/her birthday. The friend is today a frequent visitor to the art organisation plays and has continued to donate. The participant expressed that it would be good if this service existed professionally from the art organisation. 31
  37. 37. 3.2 FINDINGS FROM THE FOCUS GROUP ON SUBSCRIBERS The potential donors’ attitudes toward charities/non-profits in general and towards the art organisation are similar to current donors’ attitudes. Supporting a good cause is one of the reasons that make people donate. Another reason is that people usually support the things they are interested in. The respondents also consider it good to support organisations of education and art. Besides, the subscriber group claimed that the government has to support the art sector and culture. However, the government has to distribute budget in each cultural industry equally. As the current donor group, the subscriber group also considered the art organisation as not being a charity organisation, but it need charitable donation. The subscriber group revealed that the art organisation is not the donation object they first consider, but other charities are prioritised before. This differs to the current donor group. Like the current donor group, the subscriber group recommended the program list of productions. Moreover, both the subscriber and the current donor groups expect to participate in pre-performance discussions. The awareness of activities and programs is identical in the two groups. Both groups were aware of the education program and amazed by it. However, the other activities like the online forums for students did not generate the same awareness. Most respondents of the subscriber group have different taste of the art organisation’s productions, but all of them think the productions in general are excellent. The difference between current and potential donors is that potential donors mentioned that they were impressed by the services of the art organisation. The motives for engagement and involvement in the art organisation are based on two concepts in the subscriber group and the donor group. One of them is that respondents like to participate in the very early stages, in order to acknowledge and experience the productions. Another motive is that respondents donate because they like to support any company educating children. One thing that the current donor except from their involvement with the art organisation is special treatment. The potential donors have the same opinions. They would like the benefits such as discount of tickets, free snacks and drinks. The current donors’ perceptions of current the art organisation communications and programs involved more promotion of the organisation and the education programs. Compared to current donors, the other focus group gave some recommendation on e- mail, website and the information services. For e-mail, respondents have different ideas, some of them think it is annoying but some of them will read briefly before they delete the mail. The respondent think the website is better than e-mail, because the visitor could select the information they need. The subscriber respondents also suggest that the art organisation’s phone should be answered by a person, not a machine. Finally the study on potential donors identified the trust issue to be important. In order for the group to make a donation they want to understand where their contribution is used. 32