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The United Performing Arts Fund in Milwaukee (UPAF) is testing a "smART card" which gives donors buy-one-get-one-free ticket offers to one performance of each of the 19 groups supported by the fund.
The card not only rewards donors to the arts, but will also help UPAF better understand arts patrons, says Dan DeWeerdt, senior director of marketing and community outreach for UPAF.
It is intended to replace a paper form donors have received in past years.
"While that paper card was very successful, it was very difficult to track use of the card," DeWeerdt said. Additionally, the paperwork became incredibly cumbersome and inefficient in light of current technologies, he added.
Employees at Northwestern Mutual, Rockwell Automation and SBC in Milwaukee participated in the pilot program that concluded in March. A survey of those users is now being conducted. With information from that survey, the card will be offered this fall to all donors who contribute at least $60 to the UPAF campaign. That gets them an individualized, bar-coded, credit card-size smART card; 1,200 cards were distributed in the pilot run.
The system for using the card is entirely Web based, with participating donors having password-protected access to individual information. The site has a summary of arts events and lists available and used benefits for the particular donor. It’s a real-time, personal page.
UPAF can then track all that information, helping it better operate its fund-raising efforts and helping its funded groups better understand the wants of arts patrons, DeWeerdt said.
"It gives us great demographic information," he said. "It’s pretty exciting to have a vehicle like this."
The smART card program is believed to the only one of its kind among approximately 60 united arts funds nationwide and is made possible with a $50,000 grant from The SBC Foundation, SBC Communications Inc.’s philanthropic arm.
"SBC recognizes the value of the smART card to UPAF donors as well as the Milwaukee-area participating arts organizations," said Paul La Schiazza, president of SBC Wisconsin. "The efficient, results-driven technology benefits UPAF, while it continues to provide a key benefit to UPAF donors."
DeWeerdt will present information on the card at the National Arts Marketing Conference Oct. 2-5 in Chicago. The conference will include a plenary session with Phil Kotler, the S. C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He will address, "The New Wave: Technology-Enabled Marketing," describing what for-profit firms are achieving with high-tech marketing and showing where and how arts organizations can move in the same direction.
April 30, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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