The relaunch of the Private Investment in Culture Survey (PIC) funded by Arts Council England is a welcome move. The report provides vital insight on private funding of the arts and culture sector and how it is changing over time; it also helps to put arts legacies into a broader context.

At a time when public sector funding for UK arts organisations is under threat, the need for private investment and earned income is greater than ever.

The PIC Survey shows that private investment is becoming more important in overall terms, particularly for smaller organisations. Private funding – whether from businesses, trusts and foundations or individuals – now accounts for 18% of total income. Individual giving (including legacies) is the most important form of private investment in arts and culture, accounting for around half of all private income.

In 2014/15, private investment in culture grew by a substantial 21%. But this broad statistic masks a significant polarisation in performance. While the 50 largest organisations (mainly London-based, and particularly visual arts bodies) have seen private funding rise by 32%, the remaining organisations (most of them small, and often local) have seen just an 8% increase. Much of the recent growth has come from donations made by wealthy individuals, giving to a few prestigious organisations. These findings are echoed in our own research, Legacy Fundraising in the Arts, published December 2016.

Legacies are measured in the PIC report and represent £22 million out of £480 million of total private investment; a share of just 4.6%. When comparing this to the charity sector as a whole, where 13% of fundraised income is via gifts in wills, it demonstrates once again that arts organisations are punching well below their weight when it comes to legacies.

What does this mean for arts organisations?

The PIC report shows that lack of capacity – both people and budgets – is a major constraint for arts fundraising. This was confirmed by our own legacy research; just one of the 116 organisations we surveyed had a full-time team member dedicated to legacy activities, and 48% had no discrete staff allocated. Furthermore, half of respondent organisations had no budget for legacy fundraising in the current financial year, while most of those who promoted legacy giving spent less than £5,000 p.a. For many smaller arts organisations, the idea of legacy fundraising is well off the radar.

So, what can arts fundraisers do to encourage legacy giving?

We believe that legacies are an important latent opportunity for arts organisations, not least thanks to the Baby-Boomer generation. Now in their fifties and sixties, Boomers are an affluent, active group who have both the time and the money to engage with the arts. We also know that many Boomers would consider leaving a gift in their will – our research shows that 48% are open to the idea, compared to 44% of today’s 70+s. Sowing the seed of a legacy idea with these people now is likely to bear fruit over the next ten, even twenty years.

Investment in legacy marketing does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. It’s about raising awareness with supporters, and encouraging both staff (from the chief executive to the receptionist) and volunteers to talk about the benefits legacies can bring.

It’s sometimes daunting to know where to begin in such a new area. But there’s plenty of help – and inspiration – at hand in the broader not-for-profit sector. For example, bodies such as Remember A Charity, the Institute of Fundraising, the Institute of Legacy Management and indeed Legacy Foresight, provide forums to gain knowledge, share ideas and amplify voice in a low-cost way. Having the right tools and intelligence in place now can help arts organisations make the most of their legacy potential in the future.

Legacy Monitor helps organisations to gain an understanding of legacy giving trends and donor motivations across the UK, allowing participants to understand where they fit into the wider picture, and providing the insight needed to support strategic development and fundraising plans. New joiners are given a significant discount in the first year of the programme to prove its value.

To find out more about Legacy Monitor, click here

Or to discuss further, please contact Meg Abdy