Patrons & Members: Stewardship into Recovery Online Panel
On Thursday 23 April I hosted an online panel, ‘Patrons and Members: Stewardship into Recovery’. This was the next event in the series on Keeping Members and Patrons Engaged during lockdown. (You can view that event here.)
The panel featured Andrew Quartermain of Pro Corda, a national chamber music school which is also a charity that hosts events in Leiston Abbey; Emma-Claire Morgan, Patrons Manager at Royal Museums Greenwich, home to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the iconic historic sailing ship Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House art gallery; Lucy Reece-Raybould, CEO of the British Footwear Association which is a trade body for footwear manufacturers, and myself from a technology perspective. The panel was Chaired by Alison Russell of Russell Publishing who kindly agreed to keep us in order. I had met the panel through other contacts or at events and everyone was coming at the question from a very different angle so I wasn’t sure whether it was going to work, whether we’d create some atmosphere, but sometimes different views can compliment each other, and that’s what I was going for. At first it would seem that they are not related, but indeed all of us work with patrons and members, and share the similar challenge of keeping them engaged now and into the future.
First Andrew spoke of the real need to keep patrons and members engaged during lockdown. Andrew spoke of opportunities for growing audiences within the cultural sector beyond just keeping current patrons engaged, and how these opportunities link in to what will likely be a very new way of doing things within live performance as the country gets back to “normal”. He went on to highlight the importance of balancing meeting restrictions and new ways of working with getting users excited about new and different opportunities for them to engage with. Andrew posed important questions such as how we can plan ahead from what we’ve experienced and stressed the importance of cultural organisations being light footed, versatile, and quick thinking to react to ever changing times, and went onto draw out how this could be built into 5 year strategies and longer term business plans. Andrew also commented around how the cultural sector funding world also needs to react to the above areas.
Emma-Claire Morgan spoke of making the best of a bad situation and postured how we might reflect on new ways to increase retention during the crisis. Keeping patrons and members engaged during lockdown is not an easy task! How to grow, not just acquire but retain donors is the holy grail for Museums and Emma-Claire spoke of using the time to be inquisitive and ask direction about why they donate, to determine the key sentiment at the heart of donor engagement, towards that aim. Emma-Claire stressed the importance of personalising communications and how a change in medium (from post to digital) can feel disruptive but might work out for the better in the long run. Language and using the time to develop a common voice so donors feel like they are communicating with one organisation, can help donors to form a stronger attachment. Lots more besides creating 3D images & putting collections online, the opportunities the crisis has presented for understanding donors better through improved data & using donor sentiment to direct a better service. Not so much about throwing out the rule book but really defining the way forward by not doing something just because ‘we’ve always done it that way’ has been a good opportunity.
Lucy spoke about the changing industry and finding a way into the future whilst keeping the best of the old. Covid-19 brought an opportunity to engage with retailers and manufacturers directly as well as agents & designers, create an organisational voice for each sector, and understand their challenges, in order that the Association can respond. Lucy spoke about communication and the importance of delivering value to her industry by deciphering (sometimes-confusing) government messages and rewriting for her sector.
Vanessa Dal Busco
From my background in technology I spoke about using the crisis to re-evaluate communication, both tools and messages, and echoing Emma-Claire, how organisations can ‘re-invent’ messaging & the opportunity to think in a different way. Good digital marketing enables organisations to keep patrons and members engaged during lockdown. Engagement was always elusive, intangible, maybe you could measure it in different ways but like sentiment, your audience is not one thing, it’s many, so through surveys, listening to comments & reading posts. The crisis has exposed weak systems and data, so if organisations could not find and segment data pieces of data quickly, what can and cannot be done with your technology and data can define how you cope and recover. 3-year digital transformation strategies were suddenly kick-started and achieved in a matter of days! The crisis accelerated change and removed roadblocks, and we had to adapt quickly. On the theme of stewardship, I also considered how do we mean to continue – what activity to sustain going forward, maybe even after recovery? Less a diet than a lifestyle change. Finding the changes that make us better. What does good look like – considering Stewardship & leadership into the recovery phase. Maybe your meaning has changed & delivery has changed too if you are engaging online more. From musical balconies to ROH streaming shows online, art & a sense of community has given people hope during the crisis. No one knows the future, but will we and our organisations perhaps be a better version of themselves? I think the biggest change will be event-based marketing – creating a journey around an event – from comms, message, promos, discounts, something to look forward to whether virtual or in real life, hopefully in the not too distant future!
You can view the recording here.
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