Museums are facing a major challenge as their funding is cut by central government.
The Government's position is set out in Ed Vaizey's speech to the Museums Association :-
"Everyone who works in museums will have to play their part in ensuring that their organisations thrive in the future. Our great museum collections are not the creation of Ministers, politicians, civil servants and Spending Reviews, but of private entrepreneurs and enlightened people with the vision and leadership to create great institutions up and down this country.
But driving forward will take courage and ingenuity. The state cannot afford to subsidise those who are unable to help themselves. All museums need to develop a stronger instinct for partnership, mergers, commercial ventures and new approaches. Those who fund museums and those who govern and lead them need to consider fresh strategies to ensure stability in the years to come."
He later continued on the same theme.
"I believe there is scope to develop further new ideas and at the same time to significantly increase the level of philanthropy and corporate sponsorship coming in to all our museums.
Efforts in these directions rarely result in quick wins, but require long term relationships, and everyone should see that as part of their role. Bright ideas are not the preserve of a few. We can all have one. There is no point having a talented fundraiser if the chief executives and trustees, or the governing body, do not play an active role in donor cultivation.
The Government wants to revitalise charitable giving in this country. The wider charitable sector is raising its game, and I’m sure the museums sector will continue to do so as well."
Government suggestions to call on rich philanthropists have been widely criticised as impractical and unsustainable. But many people in the UK love their museums.
Online community building and fundraising offer museums a chance to connect with those people and build a base of grass-roots support. This may generate income directly and help them with their other fundraising efforts. For UK cultural organisations today, it may be the most sustainable and long-sighted response to the present funding crisis.
For more information about how this strategy might be put into effect see details of our recent event on the subject of Online Fundraising for Museums and Cultural Organisations at the ICA.