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Patron Technology

PatronManager CRM: One Database for Ticketing, Marketing, and Development

Last Build Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:00:34 +0000


Why You Should Treat Your Patrons Like Criminals (OK, not really, but hear me out…)

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:00:36 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Erin Madden Ramirez, Data Project Coordinator, Patron Technology.
A few weeks ago, I happened upon an article called 6 hostage negotiation techniques that will get you what you want. It made me think of the movie The Negotiator (Samuel L. Jackson! Kevin Spacey!), so I decided to read the story for fun.
While reading, I was surprised to realize how much the techniques discussed in the article could apply to anyone for whom customer service is a regular part of their job.
Indeed, the writer points out that one key to negotiating is to get someone to see your point of view, and that these techniques are “not something that only [work] with barricaded criminals wielding assault rifles — [they apply] to most any form of disagreement.”
The 5 steps outlined in the article are as follows:

Active Listening: Listen to their side and make them aware you’re listening.
Empathy: You get an understanding of where they’re coming from and how they feel. (Side note, I prefer the word compassion over the word empathy. You don’t want to feel someone’s pain literally.)
Rapport: Empathy (or compassion) is what you feel. Rapport is when they feel it back. They start to trust you.
Influence: Now that they trust you, you’ve earned the right to work on problem solving with them and recommend a course of action.
Behavioral Change: They act. (And maybe come out with their hands up.)

Does this progression sound familiar? It should. Any time you fielded a customer complaint, made a telemarketing call, or tried to upsell a patron, you used some, if not all, of these techniques. It’s the “some” that can present a problem. The author goes on to say,
In all likelihood you usually skip the first three steps. You start at step four (Influence) and expect the other person to immediately go to step five (Behavioral Change). And that never works.

Saying “Here’s why I’m right and you’re wrong” might be effective if people were fundamentally rational. But they’re not.
In fact, “rational” rarely comes into play when human beings are involved! If you want a better resolution when dealing with indecisive, disappointed, or disgruntled patrons, ...

The post Why You Should Treat Your Patrons Like Criminals (OK, not really, but hear me out…) appeared first on Patron Technology.

Website Conversion Check-up Time

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:00:51 +0000

How recently have you visited your own website as if you were a visitor? How recently have you asked some random patrons (either current ticket buyers, or non-ticket buyers) to give you feedback about your site? How recently have you compared your site to those of your competitors? And, most importantly how much attention are you paying to your website conversion rate?
If you’ve answered “not recently” to any (or all) of these questions, now would be a good time to focus on your website. And, no matter how many things on your site you decide you’d like to adjust or improve, I believe your conversion rate (the number of ticket buyers/number of visitors) is one of the most important metrics to pay attention to.  
To help you in this regard, this article by our partner titled 5 Tips for Crafting Your Website to Increase Conversions is a good primer to address this issue. It’s written to address small business owners, but it’s entirely relevant for any arts organization.

The post Website Conversion Check-up Time appeared first on Patron Technology.

What’s the Best Database for My Organization? How Do I Choose?

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:00:02 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Jordan Simmons, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology. This post was originally published on the Audience Building Roundtable blog
We can all agree that capturing and tracking information and making data-based decisions is important for any arts organization, but how do you know which database tool to use to facilitate that? How do you choose a great system when there are so many varying options on the market these days?
Many organizations think that they need to have a ton of technical knowledge to choose a database system, but the fact is, if you can answer a handful of questions about the direction your organization wants to go in and where you are now, you’ll have most of the ammunition you need to make the right call.
There are a lot of systems out there that operate purely as a database, such as MySQL, Access, and FileMaker, but generally when arts and non-profit organizations are considering database programs, they are more focused on systems which include some combination of ticketing, fundraising, CRM, and marketing – among other tools – so I’ll mainly address how to think about these combination systems in this post.
What are the challenges and goals at our nonprofit?
The first thing you’ll need to ask yourself is “What are the real, day to day business challenges and goals for our nonprofit?” These aren’t vague concerns like, “we want to have all of our data in one system;” these should be concrete statements that describe what you hope to achieve or avoid when using a system: things like, “we want to increase our donor base by 10% in the next fiscal year”, or “our subscription renewal rate is currently 54%, and we need to increase that rate to 60%”.
The tricky thing about these business challenges is that you’ll need everyone on staff to agree to them. Choosing a database is a decision that will affect everyone, so having buy-in from both leadership and your colleagues is crucial. Define your organization-wide goals in very specific terms. For example: “we need to end next fiscal year up 20% in earned and contributed income over last fiscal year.”
Clarifying ...

The post What’s the Best Database for My Organization?
How Do I Choose?
appeared first on Patron Technology.

The Unspoken Cost of Inefficiency

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 14:00:59 +0000

Face it: Your organization is inefficient. But so is everyone else’s. The question is, what are you doing about it? If you search for “organizational efficiency” on Amazon, you’ll find 38 books on this topic. How many have you read?
Nearly every for-profit company I read about focuses on eliminating waste, making its staff more productive, and — more important — making an investment not only in its people but also in the processes, consultants, and technology that help it become more efficient.
Sadly, this focus is rarely to be found in our industry. This confounds me. You would think that in an industry in which labor (your staff) is your biggest expense, we ought to be talking about this all the time. In all the years I’ve gone to industry conferences, I can’t recall a keynote (or even a session) on organizational efficiency or personal productivity.
I’m obsessed with this because technology can help eliminate inefficiency in a significant way, and when I bring it up, eyes roll, and it makes me feel like I’m wasting people’s time. That said, we have a client who has saved months of data entry alone by adopting PatronManager, at a labor savings of $10,000 per year!
So as you think about your organizational goals for this year, and as you think about improving your technology to get better business results, include staff efficiency (sometimes called staff alignment) in the mix. In fact, why not make it the most important thing you are looking to do?
Here’s a challenge: I’m counting the days until I get a call or an email from an executive director who says, “We are being dragged down by systems that hamper our staff members from getting their job done. Can you help us become more efficient?” The first executive director who writes me that email gets a pair of PatronManager branded socks!

The post The Unspoken Cost of Inefficiency appeared first on Patron Technology.

Embracing Technology Even if it Seems a Little Scary

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 14:00:06 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Elise Rebmann, Renewals and Retention Manager, Patron Technology.
If you’re like me, you’re not generally an early adopter of the latest gadget. Much like Maggie Smith’s portrayal of the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey, I prefer to wait and see where things go before I make an investment decision. I bought my first smartphone in 2014, and my family still doesn’t own a tablet. Yet, being alive now means getting to be a part of important conversations about embracing technology and curating its use in our lives. 
The New York Times published an article this weekend about how quickly the visual art world has embraced virtual reality technology. It is a truly fascinating read, and I appreciate the thoughtful commentary about altered reality. Still, I flatly refused to buy my 11-year-old a VR headset for Christmas. Yes, I’m a mean mom, and I know it’s just a toy to him. Trust me though, he needs figure out how to navigate middle school in actual reality first. That said, I’m super excited to visit one of these new VR exhibitions.    
Humanized Big Data is another term that I’m a little uncomfortable with as it brings up images of The Matrix to me. Luckily, this is also a conversation we get to have right now, and who better than PBS to help us navigate such an important topic. If I didn’t own a smartphone, I wouldn’t be able to understand how this works. Embracing that technology, even super late, ensures I can participate in this important discussion in a meaningful way.
And if I’m being completely honest, cloud-based CRM technology is also something that seemed a little scary at first. I have come to wholeheartedly embrace it as it’s improved so much of what we can do now for our patrons and for our organizations.
We used to think almost exclusively about using marketing dollars to increase our audience, but over the past several years we are hearing more and more from organizations such as TRG suggesting that balancing that outreach with a sustained organizational commitment to deepening relationships with your existing ...

The post Embracing Technology
Even if it Seems a Little Scary
appeared first on Patron Technology.

Building Relationships With Donors

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 14:00:20 +0000

Isn’t the essence of every relationship, communication? If there is an open dialogue between two people, it signals an investment in the relationship and the hope for constant improvement.
In this blog post titled The Trouble with your Entitled Donors by Mary Cahalane, she argues a point that I think too many overlook. If you’re asking your donors how and when they would like to be communicated with, and they go to the trouble of telling you, that’s a signal that this donor is engaged. Thus, asking your donors how and when they would like to be contacted by you, and even how often they would like to be asked for support, is not only a good idea, it can help you identify which donors are most likely to give.
As a fundraising strategy, continually asking your donors for feedback and then using that feedback to more accurately target them will only increase your odds of success. Mary’s article, which I hope you’ll read in full, has plenty of examples that prove this point.
CRM is “customer relationship management” and it’s the managing part that we all too often leave on auto-pilot. With donors, that’s never a good idea.

The post Building Relationships With Donors appeared first on Patron Technology.

Millennial Engagement Through Subscriptions and Membership Models

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 14:00:06 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Marques Hollie, Sales Engineer, Patron Technology.
I recently read a blog post by TRG Arts that provided an excellent summary/analysis of a detailed research study on the subscription model for symphony orchestras authored by Oliver Wyman (commissioned by the League of American Orchestras). The article really got me thinking about the role millennials will play in the future of arts and cultural organizations.
Every few months, it seems someone in the blog sphere brings a doomsday message about the state of the arts in this country, often citing that the attrition rates of older patrons are not being recouped because younger audiences, millennials specifically, are not interested in patronizing the arts the way previous generations did. While ensuring the health of arts and cultural organizations even in the best of times can be challenging, it seems disingenuous to blame the decline of an organization’s patron base primarily on younger audiences choosing not to attend or engage with an organization.  
In my role as Sales Engineer here at Patron Technology, I am often involved in conversations about adding value. As a millennial, member of a major art’s organization’s membership program, and a musician, I think the central question in developing younger audiences that convert into lifelong patrons of your organization is: “How do we show the inherent value of a relationship with our organization?”  
Think about your current patron base (donors, subscribers, single ticket buyers, etc…), chances are your organization didn’t just inherit that patronage, and even if it did, you undoubtedly work to retain and expand those relationships — whether it’s surveying ticket buyers on season programming, providing benefits for continued financial support, or offering a discount to single ticket buyers on their first subscription purchase. The Oliver Wyman study recommends several actions for symphony orchestras, but the core of those actions can be applied to all types of cultural organizations. I’d like to highlight two of them:

“Diversify the available combinations of customizability and package sizes” — The study notes that there is a demand for both small, fixed (“curated”) subscription packages, as well as larger, customizable subscriptions (“flex pass”). I ...

The post Millennial Engagement Through
Subscriptions and Membership Models
appeared first on Patron Technology.

What Happens to Your Organization if the NEA Goes Away?

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 14:00:06 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology.
Now that the new Republican controlled government has been seated in Washington, a list of legislative priorities is beginning to emerge. While larger debates will take place over the Affordable Healthcare Act, Privatizing Medicare and job creation, rumblings are being heard that once again the National Endowment for the Arts,, and other related cultural agencies may be on the budget-cutting chopping block. This isn’t the first time this issue has arisen, it nevertheless inflames those on both sides of the debate. Whether or not the NEA and its programs are sunsetted, it is worth considering the implications that its closing would have on the cultural ecology of America.
Symbolism and Access
If you have made your career in a cultural institution or are an avid supporter of cultural events, you most likely can’t bear to think about a world without the NEA. On a basic level, the NEA represents the polar opposite of other agencies in government, the Department of Defense, Internal Revenue Service, and Department of Homeland Security. Let’s face it, having an agency that encourages and nurtures creativity should be part of any national government agenda – right? Unfortunately, on the other side of the debate is the argument that creativity and the economic support it receives should not come out of the wallet of the taxpayer but be left to market forces. Both sides in this debate vociferously argue their side until they are practically at each other’s throats!
What is often left out in this debate is the important question of access. What the NEA does most effectively is enable access by the public to cultural organizations and the programs they create in places all over the United States. From major metropolitan centers like New York and Los Angeles to small cities like Jackson, Mississippi, and rural areas like Wabash, Indiana, the NEA makes grants available to organizations so that every citizen in America no matter where they live has some access to the arts.
Economic Impact
From an economic standpoint, the dollars that the NEA receives from congressional appropriation amounts to about .47 cents on ...

The post What Happens to Your Organization
if the NEA Goes Away?
appeared first on Patron Technology.

With Much Uncertainty — Optimism?

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 14:00:25 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology.
The latest outlook report from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has been published and the news of the moment is good over the next two years.
Philanthropic growth is expected to grow by 3.6% in 2017 and 3.8% in 2018. All donor segments are expected to increase. Some of the key findings of the report include:

Foundation growth will continue to lead the way, 5.9% in 2017 and 6.0% in 2018.
Estate giving is expected to increase by 5.4% and 5.2% respectively.
Giving by individuals is predicted to grow 3.0% and 3.2% respectively.
Corporations will continue to lag behind all other sources of giving increasing by just 2.4% and 2.7 % in 2018.

The report focuses heavily on health, education and public-sector benefit organizations as they will be the beneficiaries of the largest percentage of this growth.
Of course, all of this assumes that the economy will keep humming along. Some economists are already looking to 2017 and predicting a recession. Jay Zagorsky, an economist at Ohio State University recently wrote a column for PBS NewsHour, I’m predicting an Economic Recession in 2017. Are you Ready? Even without a recession over the next two years growth predicted by this report means that philanthropic giving will continue to outpace annual GDP.
In the two years covered in this report, individuals will comprise 79% of total giving. If you are an organization of culture the two takeaways from this report are that your bread and butter will still be individuals and more importantly their estates. Estates will account for approximately 9% of the total share of individual giving.
Do you have a strategy for capturing this growth?
No matter how successful your current campaign, the Lilly report means there is room for growth. How can you capture and cultivate your share of donors?
First, your internal systems must be able to feed you the information needed to take action. Do you have data systems, a CRM, that can capture information? It’s not enough to put information in the CRM, you have to be able to get it out — quickly. ...

The post With Much Uncertainty — Optimism? appeared first on Patron Technology.

Your Future Rests on the Individual Donor

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 14:00:38 +0000

In the very earliest hours of the Trump administration, I was alerted to several articles describing an unannounced plan to eliminate key government funded areas that concern the arts — the NEA, the NEH, PBS and more. I’ll comment more fully when the facts are clearer.
I would imagine this will take time, as the new administration has far more pressing things it wants to do in its first 100 days. That said, no matter what happens, here’s what we know to be true: raising money from motivated, enthusiastic individual donors is the fastest and most direct way to support your organization. Did you know that 70% of all giving in the US is from individuals?   
Having raised money myself in my role as ED of the American Symphony, what amazed me was that by far the biggest grants we got were from individuals who confirmed their gifts over a lunch or a phone call. No grant applications, no waiting with months of uncertainty, no committees to meet with…
Your biggest and best strategy in these uncertain times is to build individual relationships with your ticket-buyers and identify and nurture those who can become the future bedrock of your organization. It’s often the case that an arts organization is held up by one or two donors. If your organization is like that, how much better off would your organization be if you had 10 more just like them?  
Where will you find them? Stand at your venue’s front door — they are coming in all the time!

The post Your Future Rests on the Individual Donor appeared first on Patron Technology.