Private sector support of the arts in Australia is on the rise but only one quarter of arts organisations have dedicated fundraising staff.

fundraising arts

While large cultural institutions such as the Art Gallery of NSW are upping their fundraising game, 73% of all arts and cultural organisations do not have dedicated fundraising staff.

The Giving Attitude report estimates that $608 million in support was received in 2017 via philanthropic donations and grants, cash and in-kind business sponsorship, and the value of volunteering.

Of the $608 million, 58% was cash, 13% was in-kind and 30% was pro bono and volunteering.

Undertaken by Creative Partnerships Australia, the research is based on a survey of over 2,200 arts and cultural organisations with a strong survey response of 25%.

Creative Partnerships Australia’s CEO Fiona Menzies said the report provides insights into the key experiences and challenges Australian arts organisations are facing and outlines both actual results and their perception of their ability to fundraise.

“The results show private funding contributes a higher proportion of the total income of micro organisations compared to their larger counterparts and the essential role strong fundraising plays in supporting these organisations to build a robust arts sector,” Menzies said.

The report highlights the major barrier to arts organisations securing private sector support: the capacity to hire skilled fundraising staff. In the forward to the report Menzies noted that this is mainly due to a reluctance or inability to hire fundraising staff and the lack of skilled fundraisers wanting to work in the arts.

While 85% of extra-large (turnover of over $5 million) arts organisations have fundraising staff, 73% of survey respondents did not have dedicated fundraising staff.  Just one in 10 micro organisations (less than $50,000 turnover) had fundraising staff.

Overall the respondents rated themselves 4.8 out of 10 in terms of knowledge of raising funds from the private sector.

Giving Attitude Report Key Findings

Size of arts organisations

Of the 2,208 organisations surveyed, a large proportion (45%) have a turnover of less than $50,000. Most of these are entirely volunteer-run.

Only 3% have a turnover of more than $5 million (mostly major performing arts organisations, and national and state cultural institutions).

Approximately 25% fall into the categories that include a turnover of between $250,000 and $5 million.

Breakdown of sources of income for arts organisations

Earned income: 40%

Government income: 27% (expected by respondents to decline)

Private sector support income: 25% (expected by respondents to increase)

Other income: 9%

Fundraising in arts organisations

58% of private sector support was in cash.

On average, arts and cultural organisations had the support of 120 individuals, 16 businesses and four trusts and foundations.

73% of survey respondents did not have dedicated fundraising staff.

85% of extra-large (turnover of more than $5 million) arts organisations had fundraising staff.

57% of large ($1million – <$5 million) arts organisations had fundraising staff.

41% of medium ($250,000 – <$1 million) arts organisations had fundraising staff.

16% of small ($50,000 – <$250,000) arts organisations had fundraising staff.

11% of micro (less than $50,000 turnover) arts organisations had fundraising staff.

Respondents rated themselves 4.8 out of 10 in terms of knowledge of raising funds from the private sector.

Most common form of fundraising was directly approaching businesses for sponsorship (81%) or donations (72%), and directly approaching individuals for donations (79%).

Two thirds of organisations undertook traditional forms of fundraising such as entertainment (64%) and donations with sales of tickets (57%). Some 40% had run social media campaigns and 35% had run crowdfunding campaigns.

Making a direct approach for a donation was the most successful fundraising activity.

Return on investment (ROI) was $3.50 raised for every $1 spent.


The Giving Attitude report is intended to be a biennial sector-wide survey of private sector support for the arts, providing baseline data from which trends can be measured in subsequent years.

Download the full report.

Subscribe to access this article.

Continue reading your article with an F&P subscription

Join with other top fundraisers to receive insight, analysis and inspiration to help you raise more funds.

subscribe now for $1

Cancel anytime.

Already a subscriber? LOGIN HERE