About The Music Center: The Music Center is the second-largest performing arts center in the United States. Located in Downtown Los Angeles, The Music Center is home to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Roy and Edna Disney / CalArts Theatre, and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The Music Center had introduced a Perks Card to reward donors and engage local businesses in 2013. The card could be redeemed by Music Center Donors for discounts or special offers at surrounding restaurants and shops in Downtown Los Angeles.
However, by 2018, the Perks Card had lost some of its zeal. With the introduction of new restaurants in the area, the Perks Card no longer included top destinations for pre-theatre meals or shopping. Our partners were unhappy due to the low utilization and redemption rate.
The Perks Card was also not performing well for The Music Center. Despite early excitement after launch in 2013, the Perks Card was only converting 5% of new donors to a higher donation tier ($250+) in 2018.
for our partners and only a 5% conversation from Contributing Member (~ up to $249 donation) to Sustaining Member ($250+), the card just wasn’t performing for The Music Center.
When the contract renewals for our Perks Card partners came up in 2018, I decided to rethink our Perks Card initiative. As The Music Center’s Strategic Partnership Manager, I collaborated with the Advancement team and the Vice President of Advancement to rebrand the perks card and source new partners.
First Step: I conducted research on donor and customer reward programs nationwide, including those offered by other arts institutions, travel companies, and financial service firms. I conducted a throughout assessment of reward opportunities and identified the general trends and areas for improvement. I was particularly inspired by the J.P. Morgan Chase Private Client: Arts & Culture Card, which was a targeted local perks card with many arts institution partners.
Second Step: I conducted a baseline survey with 45% of our small-gift donors (under $250) to generate insights into their wants and needs. The goal of this survey was to identify what would prompt these users to convert to a higher donation level next year. The major takeaways were: Small-gift donors deeply valued their connection to the arts, many often visited arts and cultural institutions (museums, zoos, performing arts centers) between 2-4 times a month
- Not driven by discounts or coupons, preferred offers that made them feel special… not cheap
- Although restaurant discounts were nice, donors noted the 7 pm performing start time as a detriment to being able to enjoy a meal in Downtown Los Angeles prior to shows
Third Step: To validate these assumptions, I conducted 1:1 interviews with key donors and Music Center Board Members. They expressed a desire to have a card that engaged local arts institutions and rewarded donors with more of what they loved… the arts!
Development and Partnerships
Armed with this data and insights, I met with the Vice President of Advancement and The Music Center CEO to pitch a rebrand of our standard “Perks Card” to an “Arts and Culture Card” with specific targeted offers. They were excited by the opportunity but concerned that we would not be able to generate enough interest for participation.
After creating a list of potential arts partners, I created a partnership offer packet and began to have conversations. I also found that by conducting 1:1 interviews with senior donors, I was able to generate buy-in and gain introductions to major L.A. arts institutions.
After reaching out to over 100 partners, I was able to secure contracts with smaller cultural institutions like the Craft Folk and Art Museum, as well as globally-recognized institutions The Getty, MOCA, The LA Zoo, and LACMA. These offers included buy-on get on free offers on tickets and discounts on museum stores.
The rebrand of The Music Center perks card resulted in small-gift donors being TWICE as likely to convert to a higher donation ($250+) tier when offered as an incentive in 2018. It was also mentioned in many donor feedback surveys and conversations as an appreciated bonus.
The redemption rate at larger partners (LACMA, The Getty) was also extraordinarily high with 100+ redemptions each month. This partnership also allowed us to strengthen our relationship with local arts and culture institutions, which led to future cross-promotions. For instance, to promote the Red Shoes Ballet, we put on a film screening and Dapper Day at LACMA.