The Birmingham Hippodrome started an appeal in Spring 2012 for a major capital appeal to fundraise £1m towards the cost of replacing their 30 year old stage. They had gathered some key customer data and needed some high level expertise help to analyse the customer data and identify key potential donors.
Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust is an independent charity, which, unusually among arts organisations, receives no public subsidy. In 2011 the theatre welcomed audiences of over 523,000 making it the most popular single theatre in the UK, presenting almost 400 performances with a turnover of c.£20m.
In addition to popular, commercial productions such as The Phantom of the Opera and Hairspray, the Hippodrome presents all of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s large-scale work, and it’s the only theatre outside Cardiff to show Welsh National Opera’s entire repertoire. The theatre is also co-producer of the biennial International Dance Festival Birmingham, last year showcasing dance from Cuba, France, USA, Australia and Colombia; and it promotes a varied and successful education and access programme.
Birmingham city and the whole region benefits from the theatre both culturally and economically, so it’s vital that the Hippodrome is financially strong.
With early planning starting back in 2009, 18 months ago the Hippodrome announced a major capital appeal to fundraise £1m towards the costs of replacing their 30-year old stage. During a rare four week closure period, it was also the intention to refurbish the orchestra pit, improve energy-efficient lighting and adapt parts of the foyers.
With the appeal underway in spring 2012 they lost a key member of staff who specialised in public appeals. “We’d put in a lot of hard work to get the appeal this far,” said Rob Macpherson, Marketing & Development Director, “but we needed some high level technical expertise to help analyse the customer data we had and identify key potential donors. We asked =mc for some help and guidance on how to get the most out of the data.”
As a National Arts Fundraising School alumnus, Rob felt sure =mc were the best people to ask for advice.
=mc assigned two consultants to the job to make sure it was turned around fast. David Segal, =mc’s big data expert, designed a set of simple but powerful Excel-based protocols to analyse the raw data and gave Rob and his team insights into the best prospects who might help support the final push.
Using the data analysis to identify and target potential philanthropic individuals, and with significant help from grant-making Foundations and the business community, the Birmingham Hippodrome team, under Rob’s leadership, successfully raised the target £1m in December 2012. The old stage was completely replaced, over 500 light-fittings were upgraded to LED, the orchestra pit was refurbished, and the entrance foyer was remodelled with a new box office, cloakroom, digital signage and new heat-efficient front doors. The result was a transformed theatre.
Rob has the last word:
“It’s been ten years since I attended National Arts Fundraising School but I found the tools and practical approaches I learnt then to be a massive help with planning this appeal. Working with =mc to make the most of our data and helping me put together our e-appeal was hugely helpful and certainly contributed towards our success in reaching our £1m target.
We’re extremely grateful to the many thousands of our patrons who have helped us complete this important project, enabling us to remain a stage for the best in the world.”
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Yvette Gyles, Director