Museums and Effective Altruism: How to Leverage Millennial Philanthropy

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2016 has been touted as the year of data, a potential key to the future of museums.  But what should museums do with that data?  How can data advance the museum’s mission — and bring in much-needed revenue?

Enter the next generation of donors: Effective Altruists.  These are the millennials, the technology enthusiasts, and the data-driven individuals who look at evidence and reason to determine the most effective ways to improve the world.  Their philosophy has often left museums — and other cultural institutions not driven by data — in the dust.  Unlike other nonprofits, museums don’t tend to save lives…

…or do they?

In a recent Seattle Times article, reporter Tricia Romano discussed millennials, giving, and cultural institutions with the Seattle Effective Altruists group.  With over 175 members, most of whom work in tech industries, the Seattle Effective Altruists are a major force for giving in their community.  Tricia explores what these altruists want when they give, providing key insights into the new museum donor base.

We’ve taken her ideas one step further, summarizing her article in the slides below and discussing three ways that museums can leverage millennial philanthropy.

Title slide Museums and Effective Altruism: How to Leverage Millennial Philanthropy

Effective Altruists use data to determine the most effective ways to improve the world

Altruists want to know exactly how thier money is spent and the impact it has

Altruists prefer giving to charities focused on education, basic needs, animal welfare, environment, and civil rights

This focus on data and impact has left the arts world out of giving

To solicit new donors, museums need to quantify how they impact individuals and communities

But museums often lack the manpower to gather data, prioritizing programs and conservation instead. This leaves museums struggling to attract the next generation of donors

There are three ways that museums can use data and programs to engage effective altruists

First, reach potential donors early on in life, so they don't view arts and culture as "alien creatures"

Provide multiple access points through experimental programming onsite and online

Embrace the notion that "information should be free," providing opportunities for audiences to delve deeper or participate in free programs.

Tell your story better.

Second, use data focused on your community: people served, jobs created, and economies boosted.

Focus on community impacts

Embrace social justice.

Third, give potential donors opportunities to contribute to your mission and programs.

Provide programs and opportunities that enable patrons to have a direct impact on your museum.

Ultimately, data is an access point, justifying that what new donors feel in the museum is felt by others, too.

Credit slide for Museums and Effective Altruism

Download the PDF version of these slides here.

With millennial philanthropy money flowing, arts groups miss out” by Tricia Romano originally appeared in the Seattle Times on December 28, 2015.

Find out about our consulting work with museums, or email us at [email protected] to find out more.

written with 💖 by Museum Hack

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