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Volunteers and Donors: Vital to Arts and Culture Organizations
By Kelly Hill, President, Hill Strategies Research
Hill Strategies Research recently published two reports on volunteers and donors in arts and culture organizations, based on a broad Statistics Canada survey of the charitable activities of individual Canadians in 2007. Unfortunately, the dataset cannot provide specific information about museum volunteers and donors, only volunteers and donors in any type of cultural organization. The donor data includes financial donations only, not gifts of art or other objects.
Canadian arts and culture organizations rely on volunteers to fulfill many roles, including serving on boards of directors, organizing events, fundraising, teaching or mentoring others, and performing various administrative tasks. Without volunteer support, many arts and culture organizations would be unable to achieve their mandates. In fact, a 2003 survey of non-profit organizations found that almost two-thirds of arts and culture organizations are run entirely by volunteers.
In 2007, the 698,000 Canadians age 15 or older who volunteered in arts and culture organizations worked a total of 73.5 million hours, which is equivalent to about 38,000 full-time, full-year jobs, valued at about $1.1 billion.
Cultural organizations also rely on funding support from a broad range of sources. The roughly 14,000 arts and culture organizations in Canada have total revenues of $3.4 billion, or 3.1% of all non-profit organizations in Canada. Compared with other non-profit organizations, arts and culture organizations receive much lower funding from government (28% for arts and culture vs. 49% for all nonprofits), much higher revenues from earned sources (50% for arts and culture vs. 35% for all nonprofits), slightly higher revenues from gifts and donations (17% for arts and culture vs. 13% for all nonprofits) and roughly similar revenues from other sources (5% for arts and culture organizations vs. 3% for all nonprofits).
While volunteers and donors are vital to cultural organizations, the reports highlight the very strong competition for volunteers and donors from other non-profit sectors. As shown in the accompanying chart, the 73.5 million in volunteer hours in arts and culture organizations represents 4% of total hours volunteered in all types of non-profit organizations, ranking seventh out of 11 types of non-profit organizations. Religious organizations, sports and recreation organizations and social service organizations each received between 16% and 18% of all volunteer hours in 2007 (376, 353 and 332 million hours, respectively). Education and research organizations received 218 million hours (11%), and development and housing organizations received 114 million hours in 2007 (5%). Volunteers contributed 86 million hours to health organizations (4% of all hours), slightly higher than contributions to arts and culture organizations (74 million hours, also 4%). Hospitals received slightly fewer volunteer hours (70 million hours, 3%). Other key findings of the reports include:
- 759,000 cultural donors gave money to arts and culture organizations in 2007.
- The $101 million in donations to arts and culture organizations represent 1% of total donations to all types of non-profit organizations. Religious organizations receive nearly half of all donations ($4.6 billion, or 47%), followed by health organizations ($1.5 billion, or 15%) and social service organizations ($915 million, or 9%).
- 1.3 million Canadians volunteered in arts and culture organizations, donated money to them, or did both in 2007. This represents 5% of all Canadians 15 years of age or older.
- The most common reason for volunteering in arts and culture organizations is a desire to make a contribution to one’s community (chosen by 92% of volunteers).
The reports examine data from custom tabulations that Hill Strategies Research commissioned from Statistics Canada based on the 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP). Between September and December 2007, Statistics Canada surveyed a statistically representative sample of Canadians 15 and older (20,510 people) about their volunteer work in all types of not-for-profit organizations in the 12 months preceding the survey. The full reports, including many more details about arts and culture volunteers and donors, are available for free at www.hillstrategies.com.
Cultural Change and Canada’s Museums
By Barry Lord, Co-President, Lord Cultural Resources
‘Friends in times of need are friends indeed.’ Friends of Museums in Canada have had to be friends indeed for as long as I have been involved in the museum field – which is now just over 50 years, since I started as a summer student employee at the National Gallery of Canada while still an undergraduate at McMaster University. The half-century has been a period of constant cultural change – and the next half-century looks likely to be even more so.
My wife and co-President Gail Dexter Lord and I last year finished writing our latest book, Artists, Patrons and the Public: Why Culture Changes (AltaMira Press, Lanham, Maryland, 2010). We wrote it because we realized that the 30-year practice of our company, Lord Cultural Resources, has really been about our participation in cultural change around the world. Through over 1,800 planning and management projects for museums and related institutions in some 48 countries our firm’s professionals, now over 60 strong, have been working with cultural workers at all levels and in many situations, who have been struggling with or responding to cultural change.
Museums seem to be about objects, but are really about people. They seem to be buildings with things in them, but they are actually part of the communication process between people – people of the past as well as the present and the future, and in many cases people who don’t speak the same language, practice the same religion or dress the same way. Globalization and the corresponding increase in diversity have been among the cultural changes that have affected museums as means of communication.
This is equally true of Canada’s museums. Our company’s work that Gail has led for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg – Canada’s first national museum outside Ottawa – is one clear indication of the direction of this cultural change. It is an ‘idea museum’ – it will have collections, but it is essentially formed around the idea of human rights, and the title is significant – it is not of, but for Human Rights. Its nation-wide education program, bringing students from across the country to Winnipeg, will heighten young Canadians’ consciousness of human rights, including an awareness of past and present violations in our own country, as well as around the world.
In the coming years cultural change should affect the governance of our museums, and the Friends of Museums may be positioned to play a role in that change. Particularly where government cut-backs have affected staffing and programs, museums need to become civil society institutions, more than ever. This means science centres that participate in innovation programs, art museums that stimulate creativity in our schools, and natural or cultural history museums that are courageous enough to present exhibitions on controversial topics.
This greater degree of social engagement reflects the changing position of Canada’s museums as resources in the ‘knowledge economy’ as well as in cultural tourism. Museums can be instrumental to urban regeneration, and can contribute to social cohesion in our many communities with highly diverse populations. With a decreasing proportion of their expenses covered by government, museums must reach out to private/public partnerships, foundations and educational institutions, individuals and groups representing all aspects of our society as they combine self-generated with contributed earnings, grants and subsidies from all levels of government, and individual donations.
These changes should be reflected in the governance of our museums. Civil society should have a greater say in the governance of civil society institutions. Friends of Museums may be one conduit for that change in governance, especially if your Friends organizations reflect the diversity of your communities. All of us may then hold our shared heritage – scientific, artistic or historic – in trust.
CONFERENCES OF INTEREST
Canadian Museums Association
April 12 – 17, 2011 in London, Ontario. This year’s theme will be “Evolve or Die”. CFFM is again sponsoring the Carol Sprachman Lecture. The speaker will be Simon Brault., who will give the opening keynote address at 4:30 pm on April 12th. His topic will be “No Culture, No Future”.
American Association of Museums
May 22 – 25, 2011 in Houston, Texas
World Federation of Friends of Museums
The XIV World Congress of WFFM will be held in Genoa 18-22 September 2011. All CFFM members are entitled to attend. See our web site www.cffm-fcam.ca for details.
Next WFFM Council and General Assembly Meeting Copenhagen, Denmark 28-29 April, 2011 Hosted by the Danish Federation of Friends of Museums (DFFM)
Post Script: After last fall’s successful public lecture on “No Culture, No Future” by Simon Brault, the CFFM in Ottawa, in collaboration with several organizations, is planning another public event – a panel discussion on cultural diversity and its effect on our cultural institutions. How are cultural changes affecting your museum and how are Friends dealing with such changes? We welcome articles of 400-600 words on that subject. Please get in touch with our editor.
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au courant is the newsletter published by Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums
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