The Art Fund: the battle to save the Staffordshire Hoard

Exhibited by
The Art Fund / Bluefrog.
Added
June 16, 2012
Medium of Communication
Door-drops and householders, grant application, online, press advertising
Target Audience
Individuals
Type of Charity
Arts, culture and heritage
Country of Origin
UK
Date of first appearance
January, 2010

SOFII’s view

This is a wonderful example of a successful emergency appeal. This campaign really captured the imagination of the public and was so successful that it even closed a few weeks early, which is especially admirable given the current economic climate.

Creator / originator

The Art Fund / Bluefrog.

Summary / objectives

  • To raise £3.3 million by 17 April 2010 to buy the Staffordshire Hoard, an Anglo-Saxon treasure discovered by a metal detectorist.
  • To secure the hoard for display in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.
  • To capture the imagination of the public and get them to support the campaign.

Background

The Staffordshire Hoard was valued at £3.3 million and the Art Fund led the campaign to raise the funds needed to buy it for two museums that are local to the find.

The Staffordshire Hoard is amazing. It is made up of over 1,500 objects drawn from the battlefield – many are highly ornate sword fittings. Historian Dr David Starkey referred to the fund as ‘gangland bling’.

This was an emergency appeal and materials were put together in just a couple of weeks. When the campaign was launched, we had just 13 weeks to raise the funds needed to save the hoard. If we failed, there was a risk that the hoard might then have been sold on the open market and lost to public view, perhaps even going abroad.

The campaign was supported with a steady steam of new stories from the Art Fund, which secured media coverage throughout.

Special characteristics

The campaign in the Midlands was focused on maximising local interest. The call to action was ‘Save the Staffordshire Hoard for the West Midlands’.

Further afield, potential supporters were asked to ‘Join the battle to save the Staffordshire Hoard’ – this was chosen as much of the treasure was military in nature.

With £3.3 million to raise, we made the target achievable by showing that some of the 1,500 items in the hoard – fragments of metal - were valued at just £20. This enabled us to ask people – ‘which part will you save?’. Another way of making donors feel part of a historic moment was saying we would recognise all gifts of over £20 in a book of thanks.

The various components of the campaign were:

  • Print
  • Press adverts
  • Local door-drops
  • Warm appeal to Art Fund members
  • Cold appeal to prospects
  • Take one leaflet for museums
  • Posters and banners for museums and public spaces donated by the local councils in the Midlands.
  • Digital media channels
  • Web pages
  • Banner adverts

Influence / impact

This is a great example of how to get an effective fundraising campaign up and running in a short amount of time. It enabled the public to play their part in saving a national treasure, which might otherwise have been lost. There’s plenty the Staffordshire Hoard can teach us not only about the Anglo-Saxon ‘dark ages’, but also about emergency fundraising.

Results

The Staffordshire Hoard was saved – and the campaign even closed a few weeks early! A total of £900,000 was raised from the public, with the additional funds secured from the Art Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and other trusts. The aim was to raise £500,000 from Art Fund members and supporters. In fact £640,000 was raised. Response rates from cold donors were 2.2 per cent.

After the mailed appeals, the digital media channel was the most significant for fundraising.

Merits

It can be difficult to raise money for the arts, particularly during a recession. This fantastic treasure captured the imagination of the public. They gave with great generosity to keep the find safely on public display, where it can be studied and enjoyed free of charge.

The campaign was put together very quickly, but employs some successful fundraising techniques.

View original image
As these pictures of door drop packs and mailing packs show, different campaign materials were produced for both local and national audiences.
View original image
A national press ad.