Five Minute Interview: Jim Ricciuti, Passim Folk Music and Cultural Center
Sponsorship, without a doubt, is the most difficult area of fundraising for Passim. Passim, like most small arts organizations, does not have the name or brand recognition as other Boston cultural institutions such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra or Museum of Fine Arts. Also, people do not necessarily associate lovers of folk and acoustic music with wealth, despite the fact that people of varying incomes support Passim. Consequently, finding corporate sponsors has been a challenging endeavor.
General-operating grants have been difficult to find. However, I feel that is a trend for many arts organizations. Many foundations and donors enjoy giving to specific programs. Paying to keep the lights on is not as attractive as bringing music to children, yet organizations can’t work in the dark.
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
JR: No, we don’t anticipate any dramatic changes in how we engage potential donors. However, since it is our 50th year, we see ourselves engaging them much more since we will have more special events than in a normal year.
FS: How would you describe your fundraising philosophy?
JR: Our philosophy is similar to that of many organizations: Find out what’s important to the donor and make it inspiring and easy to give.
We inspire by showing people the Passim experience. This is comprised of four elements: legacy, community, the musical experience, and education. Our goal is to convey these elements to everyone that sees a performance, takes a class at the school of music, reads our bimonthly newsletter, visits our Web site or attends one of our Culture for Kids events.
People who give attach themselves to at least one of these four elements. Some give because of the rich history of Passim; some give because they just love the music. Others value the educational aspect of our music school and Culture for Kids program. We make it easy to give because our donors can do so in so many ways (as discussed above).