Understanding what motivates the museum goer to give

The Art Fund is working with the National Museum Directors' Council (NMDC) and research consultants Britain Thinks to understand why so few museum goers donate when visiting museums – and discover what will motivate them to give in future.

The research will stimulate new ideas and approaches that we hope to pilot in a range of museums across the UK from spring 2013.

This is the first time the Art Fund has jointly commissioned an in-depth research project into the psychology of giving. At a time when public funding is being scaled back and museums and galleries are expected to raise more of their income from philanthropic and private sources, it is crucial to the Art Fund’s role as the national fundraising charity for art that we support UK museums in determining the best ways for them to encourage giving amongst their most valued audiences – the everyday museum goer.

The 2,500 museums in the UK receive around 100 million visits each year – and yet very few visitors donate. New research by Arts & Business confirms that individual donations to the arts are falling year on year, down from £120 million in 2008/09 to £73 million last year. Although museums have become increasingly successful at raising funds from a variety of streams – including commercial income, trusts and foundations and corporate supporters, donations from individuals are usually concentrated around few high level donors. The research will shed light on why so few ordinary visitors don’t give currently – and how we can harness their support in the future to ensure the health of museums across the UK.

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