PLEXUS is a Melbourne based contemporary chamber music ensemble. Since launching in 2014, they’ve commissioned over 70 composers and premiered close to 50 new works. Their third ACF campaign is now underway. We spoke with the group about their fundraising strategy and how they’ve used the ACF to successfully raise money to support their practice.
Tell us a bit about your fundraising strategy.
The starting point for our fundraising strategy at PLEXUS is to create and maintain strong ongoing relationships with people who are interested in our project. The vast majority of these people will be interested in attending one of our concerts, and eventually a small number of those people will decide that they would like to make a donation to the project.
There are two further strategies which help translate strong relationships into potential donations.
Firstly, audience members at our ensemble’s concerts, and visitors to our website and Facebook page, are frequently reminded that all donations made – as well as all of the group’s performance fees – are dedicated to the commissioning and presentation of new music and collaborations.
Secondly, all members of our ensemble take the time to find opportunities to connect with people who we think should know about what we’re doing. It’s important that we all mention our project regularly, in case someone takes an interest, and in case that person finds themselves in a position to make a donation.
It is interesting to note that we have only received donations from people who know or have met a member of the ensemble, and who have heard that ensemble member talking about the project. Paradoxically, however, most of our donors have not been asked directly to make a donation to our project. Also, the most generous donations have been spontaneous.
Why did you choose this approach?
We chose this approach as we didn’t really know where to start. The first donors were people who I had known for several years, and who were very familiar with my work. We have realised that it tends to take at least 6 to 18 months of building a relationship with our potential donors before they will make a commitment to supporting our project.
I think this approach has worked for us because our intentions are transparent and deeply altruistic. From one perspective, our project can be seen as charitable, as we believe that in the current climate, composers should be supported by both performers and audiences. From another perspective, it is already within the tradition of Western art music for philanthropy and patronage to support composers, and so in some ways we’re not doing anything new.
Any extra tips for current or potential ACF artists?
We reason that another factor in why our approach has worked is that potential donors have enjoyed our concerts, and have seen value in supporting the music we commission. I believe that as long as people enjoy our work and continue to see it as valuable, they will see the importance of supporting it.