Digitising the Donor Experience: Exploring the Use of Digital Collections to Engage Donors in the Museum Sector

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0 commentsPDFRomilly Beard

Following on from the Inspiring a Culture of Philanthropy (ICP) project, I was keen to explore in more detail ways in which museums could make use of their existing resources to support their fundraising work. In March 2019 I became a Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution's Centre for Learning and Digital Access based in Washington DC, USA. I spent the next six months carrying out research into the role that digitised objects can play in engaging donors. I drew on evidence from the sector, academia and a series of interviews with Smithsonian staff and other organisations. In August 2019 I met with a group of museums that had participated in the ICP project to share my findings to date and seek their perspective on the topic. The research culminated in a presentation and research report which can be accessed for free on the Smithsonian Learning Lab: http://learninglab.si.edu/q/ll-c/ffKW851HCV1f3z7T

My aim from carrying out the research is that it helps to stimulate further discussion on the role that digitised objects can play in engaging donors and supporting fundraising campaigns. The evidence provided in the report can be used as a starting point for conversations within museums and the sector. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions or to discuss the research further. I can be contacted at romillybeard@hotmail.com or in the discussion space below.

Research Abstract:

There is increasing recognition and evidence that donor behaviour is starting to shift to increased use of online donations through crowdfunding and digital platforms. With younger philanthropists now fluent in digital communication, this channel of engagement will need to be utilised more frequently and effectively by the museum sector in the future. In the fundraising space there is a growing body of work on digital fundraising in the wider charitable sector. While in the museum sector there is a focus on digitising collections for reasons of collection management, preservation and access. This research project examined digitised collections through a fundraising lens, highlighting the use of digital collections to personalise a donor experience as well as increase donor reach.