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A multifaceted approach to fundraising at Birmingham Hippodrome

Tessitura plays an essential role in a small but mighty fundraising department

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Rachael MagsonHead of Fundraising, Birmingham Hippodrome

TitleA multifaceted approach to fundraising at Birmingham Hippodrome

Published6/21/2018

Read/View Time4 min


We really couldn’t do our jobs without Tessitura.

In the fundraising department we’re only a team of two. It could be anything from dealing with individual donors or planning a fundraising event, to trusts and foundations, grants, gift acknowledgements, and everything else in between.

We use Tessitura every day. It’s a really critical tool in our team and we use all the key modules for development: contributions, plans, reporting, elevated events, special activities, and dashboards.

Events & moves management

We’ve only recently started using elevated events and Plans [Tessitura's event management and moves management capabilities, respectively], and those are both going really well in terms of streamlining our work and making sure all the information is in one place. That’s been really positive.

“Using Plans to navigate the relationship helped us both retain her as a donor and then solicit a further gift.”

Because we are a small team, we focus on our patrons. We have a patron scheme that is from £250 to £3,000 a year, so we use Plans to monitor all of our memberships, check in with patrons on a three-, six-, and 12-month basis, send them Christmas cards, all of that — really keeping on top of our stewardship and monitoring. We also use it a lot for trust foundations and grant applications. That’s really helped us with being on top of all of that work and helping us solicit larger gifts, being much clearer with our communication, and inserting all of our key documentation, our asks, our awards, right through to all of our reporting.

An example: One of our high-level patrons last year was teetering on not renewing at that level, which to us is quite valuable. My colleague Rosie was using Plans to steward her through the ups and downs, and I think that enabled us to get her to renew at the same level. Then she also named one of our large boxes in the theatre, which was about a further £1,000. I think using Plans to navigate some of the difficulties in the relationship that year really helped us both retain her as a donor and then solicit a further gift.

Online giving

We particularly use TNEW [Tessitura's integrated online transactions platform] for our donations at point of sale, and we use it for our online purchases of all our memberships: our Friends membership and our Patrons membership.

We also have trialed using it for making fundraising events purchasable online. We’re about to do another big TNEW upgrade, so we’re looking at how we can further improve the flow of our TNEW pathways and also looking for our donations at point of sale to better match the donation request with the show that they’re booking. So for example, if you were booking for the pantomime, you might see a message in relation to donations related to our relaxed performances, better attuning the product the customer is buying with the donation request. We’re hoping to implement that next year.

“Tessitura helps small teams be as efficient as possible.”

Favourite feature

My favourite feature of Tessitura is quite a basic one. I really like the Program Names Report for our crediting. Every time we get a new brochure, a new programme, I get the marketing team sending it to me to check, and I just pull that report, double-check it, send them the edits, done.

Being part of the community as a way of extending your team

Because we do have a small team, I like to know who else is out there that I feel like I’ve met and I can pick up the phone and say, “I’m out of my depth here. Have you ever done this or can I get your advice?” So it’s really nice to make those connections at conferences.

We have quite a lean structure. Tessitura definitely helps small teams be as efficient as possible, particularly around all of your compliance right through to your prospecting — everything from your Gift Aid claim to prospecting major donors. It’s really going to help you streamline your work, which is critical in a small team.

Direct debits

Within Tessitura, we use the direct debit functions for all of our memberships. We’ve recently started doing direct debits for regular donors who want to donate across a year, and we’re soon going to be moving to paperless direct debit, so again that makes the whole process of renewals and memberships much more straightforward.

It’s obviously accounting for that financially, which we then liaise with our finance team, so the integration with our finance system is really, really helpful as well.

“From a fundraiser’s perspective, what’s great about Tessitura is that all of your data is in one place. You get a much better rounded picture of the person behind the data and what’s important to them.”

Tessitura for fundraisers

From a fundraiser’s perspective, what’s great about Tessitura is that all of your data is in one place. When I look at a constituent record, I can look at their ticket-buying behaviour, whether they’ve booked for our restaurant, whether they’re a group booker or a package booker, right through to all of their fundraising behaviour. So it helps me assimilate the whole picture of that constituent, rather than separating it out.

I know some organisations still have separate databases for ticketing and fundraising; this really brings it all together, so you get a much better rounded picture of the person behind the data and what’s important to them.

Rachael Magson headshot

Rachael Magson

Head of Fundraising

Birmingham Hippodrome

Rachael Magson is the Head of Fundraising at Birmingham Hippodrome in the UK.

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