Philanthropy: The Mentality of Giving in the cultural sector
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Today while I enjoy my coffee in a lovely café, I have one question stuck in my mind. Why are we so used to receive but not to give?
Is it our selfish character or the society that imposes this kind of attitude?
During this pandemic, more and more people have seen things in their lives in a completely different way. The mentality of philanthropy and providing help has become an extremely important aspect of our everyday lives during the last months. Probably because now we feel the need of having someone next to us, someone to experience this challenge together.
The mentality of giving in the cultural sector has a long history over the centuries and still differentiates from country to country. There are so many different reasons why people give. These reasons can be internal motivations, such as self-esteem, achievement, guilt reduction, status, spirituality, simply adding meaning to life, and more. They can also be external motivations; recognition, vision, private initiative, tax deduction, peer pressure, family involvement, culture, etc.
Even though there are many reasons why someone decides to give, there are equally many reasons why someone doesn't give. In surveys, the most often mentioned reason for why people do not donate money is because they were not asked. This is a very interesting point to underline. Many cultural institutions take for granted that people are aware of their need for support. Moreover, sometimes museums have a hard time communicating the impact of the support and generally their overall activity. It's essential to share with your supporters the outcome of their contribution by creating at the same time the sense of a community in which each member provides and receives, respecting a common cause-vision.
Today museums are facing one of the most challenging eras of their existence. That's why you might have seen even some of the biggest and most recognizable museums worldwide asking for financial aid, while at the same time they reduce their educational activities and modify their artistic program.
Maybe now you think. Hey Maria is it appropriate for a museum to ask for money when there is such an enormous medical emergency worldwide?
Yes, it is. Art is crucial to people’s life, art is transformative and healing. Supporting a cultural organization, such as a museum it is a priority. Most of the museums “survive” through the ticket income and now during the lockdown that has been severely hit.
My personal latest donation was at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. I chose this museum as the place to support, not only because, as an old Guggie intern, I consider myself to be part of the Guggenheim family, but also because I strongly respect the vision and mission of this foundation.
No matter which museum, or art organization, you will choose for your donation, you can be sure that with your contribution you support, among others, the promotion of the inclusion in museums, the engagement between the museum and the society and the development of social discourse in the cultural sector.
Your help has a real impact on the future of museums.