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Last Build Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:00:33 +0000


Better Training = Better Retention

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:00:33 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Alex Pagano, Documentation Supervisor, PatronManager. 
In the nonprofit world, there’s never enough time. Making sure your artists are happy, getting press announcements out, setting up your season, contacting donors, and working with your board is just your average Tuesday. So when a staff member puts in their two weeks notice, it can feel like the straw that just might break the camel’s back — especially when it happens time and time again.
Staff turnover in the nonprofit world is a reality. In 2016, Guidestar’s Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey indicated an average 19% turnover rate for all NPOs. That’s one in five employees per year! And this high turnover rate is expensive; there’s the time you spend looking for candidates, interviewing, and training, plus the loss of any institutional knowledge or professional connections that go with your departing coworker.
Not convinced? Try out this turnover cost calculator from Nonprofit Leadership Alliance to see what your turnover rate is costing you.
So you’re ready to address the problem, now what? Turnover is a complicated and multifaceted issue, to be sure, so today, we’re going to focus on just one of the contributing factors to this problem: training (or lack thereof). Read on to find out how a stellar onboarding plan and a solid continuing education program can help you keep star employees and stop posting in the classifieds.
All aboard onboarding
If you know you’re going to have to train a new employee every once in a while, why not be prepared? The next time you hire new help, use that opportunity to create an effective and repeatable onboarding plan for that position. You’ll reduce the time and energy you have to spend directly training your new co-worker, and they’ll become an effective member of the team faster than ever before. Good onboarding is also a preventative measure; 40% of employees not trained properly will leave an organization within their first year.
Our team uses Trello (you can also use Asana or KanbanFlow) to organize staff onboarding. Each position has their own board template, and new employees ...

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Membership Benefits 101

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:00:54 +0000

As our economy moves towards a more subscription-based model, member benefits are becoming the norm. As an example, Amazon has done an incredible job layering on perks for being an Amazon Prime member, extending all the way to shopping at Whole Foods (which they acquired this past year). The notion of member benefits has been around for a long time. For decades American Express has based the entire value chain of card membership on benefits offered at a variety of levels: basic, gold, and platinum.
The arts can take advantage of this trend as well (and do more), without impacting their bottom line. In this insightful article from Baker Richards in the UK, some of the fundamentals of thinking about membership plans are outlined. If you have not been to the theatre in the UK, the article points to some interesting cultural differences (in the UK patrons pay for programs, and covet ice cream at intermission). Beyond that, it presents some thoughtful concepts around offering benefits in the arts in the same way we see them offered in other commercial industries utilizing reserved seating. For instance, when you select seats on many airlines today, some unsold seats are held back for frequent flyers. Do you hold back the best seats for your donors or members?
Arts organizations should always be working to build closer relationships with their best patrons, donors, and members. As this article points out, some of these benefits can be highly valued, and cost very little to deliver.

The post Membership Benefits 101 appeared first on Patron Technology.

Gone Phishing

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 13:00:47 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Ben Ferber, Operations Manager, PatronManager. 
Late last year, I got a very fishy email. It looked like this:

I was standing on the A train in New York City at 8:35 am when I opened it. A once-over of the email raised a bunch of red flags:

The text of the email was unspecific — it didn’t reference a particular account.
It was written in a clumsy style that made it seem not legit. Specifically, the awkward wording of “Records have been received,” and the double-spacing after periods/between lines.
The email was from an unclear source; it wasn’t from our Director of Data Security, or someone else with a recognizable face and voice, which emails like these will almost always come from.
It came out of the blue, unsolicited. I hadn’t just tried to reset a password, nor could I remember entering my password for any of my accounts in a place where it could’ve been leaked. (It helps that I use 1Password, which alerts you whenever a password has been compromised! I’m also an occasional visitor to the lovely website
The email address was from a non-company domain. In this case, one attempting to look like a company domain! “” is missing the last o. [Similar tricks like this are: replacing letters like “m” with two “n”s (“nn” vs “m”), or letters like a lower case “L” with an upper case “i” (“l” vs. “I”.]

The reset link itself wasn’t to a recognizable domain; it was to an obviously malicious one. I was on my phone, so I pressed and held the link down rather than opening it; that brought up this screen which showed me the link without opening it [pictured right]. 
This email was deeply concerning to me — and if you’ve never bumped up against a phishing attempt, you may be wondering why. What’s the difference between this and a run-of-the-mill spammy email? In short: this email was explicitly trying to milk sensitive information out of me.
The explicit dangers of opening emails and links like this are as follows (all of which ran through my head as I imagined dozens ...

The post Gone Phishing appeared first on Patron Technology.

Peer-to-Peer Learning

Tue, 13 Mar 2018 13:00:48 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Christy Warren, Educational Development Manager, PatronManager. 
Learning goes far beyond the formal relationship of teacher and student — it’s all around us. In fact, our best learning resource may be the person right next to us. Not surprisingly, there is an official term for this: peer-to-peer learning. It’s all about collaboration among peers with the goal of improving skills quickly and somewhat organically.  
In the workplace, you probably notice it most when you start a new job. In those formative months, every moment is about observing your peers and absorbing the office culture. You ask questions often, take notes, and work hard to retain everything. You feel pressured (likely self-induced) to show how quickly you can learn tasks and policies. After all, you want to affirm that your boss made the right decision in hiring you. You also want your peers to understand you are on their team and you won’t be a slacker. This rapid assimilation is happening because of peer-to-peer learning, and it usually happens without much effort by the employer. Employees want to succeed, so they focus on that directly.
This focus wanes over time, though, so employers in effective office environments work hard to keep this energy alive over the long term. That’s because workers who are continually learning are more engaged, invested, and happy. Why is this?  
When employees are considered subject-matter experts in something, it feels good to be relied upon. There is a sense of responsibility and value when they are in charge of helping or training a teammate.
In addition, employees must adapt to change faster than ever before. Changes happen all the time for various reasons: new software updates, new processes, growing or shrinking staff, customer demands, tighter profit margins, etc. Employees can’t always wait for an official training course or documentation to adapt to the latest change. How many times have you failed to remember what your boss asked for recently and relied on a colleague to remind you? That’s learning from your peers.  
There are many ways to mainstream peer-to-peer learning in the workplace:  

Formal initiatives, such as a sharing lunch every month. Participants bring their ...

The post Peer-to-Peer Learning appeared first on Patron Technology.

Google Goes After Resellers

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 14:00:52 +0000

In the commercial world, venues and promoters are often frustrated by widespread reselling and scalping of their most popular events. And for consumers, it’s maddening to be unsure about whether you’re buying “primary” tickets directly from the event organizer, or from a secondary source, often at a higher price. In the arts, this doesn’t occur all that frequently, but nonetheless, Google recently made an important announcement that will help every organization that sells tickets.
Starting immediately (and in a process that will take many months), Google will now require secondary ticket resellers to become certified in order to advertise on Google. They will have to comply with a strict level of transparency, as outlined in this Billboard article. Not only will the buyer know who they are doing business with, but they will also see the full price of the ticket in a clear way. And, most importantly, deceptive URLs that include the venue name, but are not actually the venue itself (i.e., something akin to will be banned.
This move is rightfully being celebrated by most in the industry and can only happen at this point because Google has near-monopoly power in the online search industry. With all the negative press going on about “fake news” online, it’s great to see Google taking an action like this, which addresses a vexing problem head-on, and should accrue to everyone’s benefit.

The post Google Goes After Resellers appeared first on Patron Technology.

Desegregating Arts Administration

Tue, 06 Mar 2018 14:00:03 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Judith Shimer, Senior Client Administrator, PatronManager. 
Arts administration, like many industries, has a diversity problem. According to a 2015 study, while white women, as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, tend to be well-represented in lower-paying roles, they are still underrepresented in higher-profile roles. Meanwhile, people of color, transgender people, and people with disabilities are underrepresented across the board. For people with more than one of these identities, the struggle of finding and keeping employment, achieving promotions, and feeling welcome in the workplace is multiplied.
Take a moment to try the following exercise. It may feel uncomfortable but it is essential: look around your office and think about who you see. Especially consider the roles of your coworkers, and how much they likely earn. For example, are your box office and administrative offices equally diverse? Lower-paid employees versus higher-paid?
On top of denying great candidates employment, a segregated arts industry impacts what art gets made and performed, and sends a message to young people about whether or not they belong in the arts. How can individuals already in the industry build a more inclusive environment? Here’s how to start:

Mix up where and how you advertise job openings. Don’t rely on word of mouth and friend referrals, which keep the bubble closed. If most referrals are white, cisgender, and able-bodied, open your doors wider. A quick Google can turn up online job boards in your community, as well as a number of diversity-oriented job posting sites.
Change your prerequisite qualifications. Does your organization require advanced degrees or multiple years of experience? Marginalized people often decline to apply for jobs if they feel even slightly unqualified, while people with relative privilege just apply for those jobs anyway (and get hired–this is well-documented along gender lines). If your current employees didn’t meet every prerequisite to a “T” when applying, what other assets did they demonstrate that convinced you to hire them? Those softer skills like thoughtfulness, creativity, curiosity, and passion are valuable. Encourage more great applicants by focusing on these and removing excessive qualifications from your job descriptions. (Our Director of Client Administration, Rachel Hands, ...

The post Desegregating Arts Administration appeared first on Patron Technology.

Live Streaming Hits The Big Time

Tue, 27 Feb 2018 14:00:29 +0000

A recent thought piece by Mark Shenton of the UK-based The Stage titled “Now audiences are Facetiming theatre shows – what next?” caught my eye.
I’ve been writing positively about the advent and potential benefits of live streaming in the arts for a long time. My first post on the topic (“The Live Video Phone-ization of the World”) was published on this blog way back in 2008. In a more recent post from 2016 titled “The Next Hottest Thing (Not Yet),” I wrote:
I still think every arts organization should start live streaming something – a backstage tour, a pre-concert lecture, a season announcement, etc. Despite the fact that live streaming hasn’t taken off as something all consumers are participating in, I’m sure it’s coming.
Well now, almost one and a half years later, it seems like more and more people are live streaming as I predicted, and organizations ought to address this “problem” as an opportunity. In yet another post called “Streaming the Future,” I suggested a solution:
So, rather than telling the audience when they can’t use their phones, how about if we start telling people when they can — not only to post pictures (as I blogged about here ) but also to live stream. Let’s give people a good reason to use their mobile devices — one that helps our organizations grow!
When mobile phones first started to become more mainstream, organizations responded by inserting pre-show curtain announcements reminding patrons to shut their phones off. This seemingly worked at the time until mobile phones morphed into pocket-sized computers with high-resolution cameras. Again organizations responded to this with signs posted in the theatre and designated ushers patrolling aisles, reminding patrons not to take photos.
Well now that people are live streaming during actual performances, it seems like we need to address this head on as well. The way I see it, you have two options. Either you ban it completely and explain why, or embrace it and find a place for people who want to stream. But in all cases setting ground rules for ...

The post Live Streaming Hits The Big Time appeared first on Patron Technology.

Why a Career in the Arts is the Best Business Training You Can Get

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Christa Avampato, Director of Product Development, PatronManager.
About two years ago, I went to the Kennedy Center’s Arts Summit. It was a gathering of about 150 arts professionals, hosted by Yo-Yo Ma, and focused on Citizen Artistry, the idea of using the arts to influence positive change in people’s lives. I was one of the only people there who had worked in an industry other than the arts, and one of exactly two people who had an MBA. Several people asked me why I ever thought about pairing my artistic interest with business training. I told them that art and business are equal partners, not adversaries. In an artistic organization, you need business skills just as much as you need artistic talent. And in all organizations, business people have a lot to learn from artists.
This was puzzling to a lot of people, and that’s when a lightbulb went off for me. How could I bring the arts and business, and more specifically people who work in both disciplines, together to learn from one another? At the end of the Summit, everyone had to create a card to describe their career goal for the year. Here I am with my card:

“I commit to helping artists find the business people within them, and to helping business people find the artists within them.”
My life and my career have never been a binary choice between the arts and business. They’ve always been a package deal for me. And I wanted to find a way to work that mission into my career. I started my career twenty years ago in company management of Broadway shows and national theater tours. It has been a long and winding road since then. In all of these experiences, I say without hesitation that my work in theater has been the best business training I’ve ever had.
I so fervently believe this that when people ask me “how can I enhance my business skills?”, I tell them to go produce a live performance.
Here are the business skills we wield to produce a live show:

Meeting a preset, non-negotiable deadline (that curtain is going up on time ...

The post Why a Career in the Arts is the
Best Business Training You Can Get
appeared first on Patron Technology.

Defining Your Customer Service Culture Before It Defines You

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Gary Lustig, Principal of LusTicks Consulting. Gary has been in the ticketing industry for over three decades, most recently as Vice President of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
– Gene Carr, Founder
Over 30+ years since we have seen the evolution from a physical box office being the primary sales outlet, to a multi-channel distribution network that includes the traditional “in-person” venue box office, mail-order, fax, telephone, web, social media and third-party partnerships with companies like Goldstar.
As the number of channels have grown, patron expectations have grown as well. While the web (mobile & desktop) is now the primary tool to “transact” a ticket sale, patrons expect to choose how they interact with your organization. Meeting customer’s service needs requires a well-thought-out and integrated approach to technology, marketing, policy-making and staff hiring and training.
According to research from Accenture, 45% of consumers will pay more for products and services that provide a higher level of customer service. This very much includes the “product” of arts and culture. This article will help you understand the importance of assessing your current service culture and learn ways to ensure that your technology, people, and company practices are best aligned to help you attract and retain patrons and drive revenue in today’s increasingly competitive bid for consumer’s entertainment dollars.
We will explore four broad categories to consider when thinking about your organization’s customer service: Mission & Culture; Metrics; Obstacles and Empowerment.
Mission & Culture – Does your organization have a clearly defined “Customer Service Mission?” No organization consciously strives to deliver poor service or have a negative service culture. However, if you haven’t clearly defined your organization’s customer service mission, a service culture will develop by default, and it may not be the one you think it is or want. Without clear direction from top management all the way to the front-lines, your front-line service providers are left without guidance in dealing with service issues that naturally arise. Every organization should have a well thought out and clearly communicated service mission that is backed by its entire management team and becomes a part of all ...

The post Defining Your Customer Service Culture
Before It Defines You
appeared first on Patron Technology.

Quantitative Storytime: The Tales Your Data Can Tell

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:00:36 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kathryn Schmitt, Data Project Coordinator, PatronManager. 
People love a good story. This is more than a cliche; it’s a fact supported by mountains of research. The human brain responds to stories with increased empathy and attentiveness. When used deliberately in communications, stories can increase engagement and motivate action. So what, exactly, does that have to do with you and your business?
I’ve got news for you: everyone who works at your arts organization or nonprofit is a storyteller. Every day, you and your colleagues use different mediums to tell your story. Your marketing department uses social media to tell the story of your mission. Your fundraising department tells the story of your impact through dollar amounts. Your operations department embodies the story of your day-to-day efforts to influence and motivate. Storytelling is everywhere, and it’s crucial to your success.
Stories create emotional connections, which can motivate donors and buyers. Data, on the other hand, proves without question your effectiveness and measured outcomes. But the best and most successful campaigns combine an effective narrative with quantitative data. In other words, you want to engage your listener and offer proof at the same time. Take a look at these three examples:

The Southeastern Toy Bank donated nearly 7,000 toys.
The Southeastern Toy Bank brought smiles to children in need across the region.
The Southeastern Toy Bank has brought smiles to over 3,500 children by donating nearly 7,000 toys to local hospitals and shelters.

The third example illustrates a simple but effective formula; it uses language to tug at the heartstrings, and it also gives context and hard figures which help motivate the reader to act. To utilize your data in storytelling most effectively, choose it wisely! Ask yourself if the piece of data you’re considering will help prove your point. Irrelevant statistics will harm your campaign more than help it. And consider your audience when choosing which data to include. What will they enjoy listening to? What will motivate them to action? It’s also important to remember, a group of theatergoers doesn’t necessarily have the same wants and needs as your board members, so make sure to tailor your data-driven stories towards ...

The post Quantitative Storytime:
The Tales Your Data Can Tell
appeared first on Patron Technology.