Autry Museum of The American West

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Arts and Cultural Organizations
North America

Autry Museum of the American West overcomes membership rut with tailored solution.

For over three decades, the Autry Museum of the American West has preserved the heritage of the West through art and artifacts. Despite its nearly 200,000 annual visitors, the Autry hit a rut in with its membership and overall giving. Blackbaud was there to help.

Through the Autry’s focus on the American West—a place where multiple cultures, traditions, and ideas converge—the museum continues to inspire students, scholars, and the public to dive deeper into the region’s most compelling stories. The Autry draws nearly 200,000 visitors each year, including more than 45,000 students from surrounding schools in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Despite its diverse exhibits and engaging programs, the Autry—like many museums—saw diminishing membership and giving.

“We were kind of in a rut in terms of where we were with our membership and overall giving,” explained Cristian Hamilton, senior director of development, relationship management, and data sciences. “Blackbaud completely transformed the Autry.”

Building Membership and Giving Through Analytics

Hamilton and his team implemented Blackbaud’s comprehensive cloud solution for arts and cultural organizations, which consolidates admission,membership, fundraising, merchandise, and marketing to meet the specific needs of organizations like the Autry. The solution screens every visitor, from the moment that person enters the museum, as a prospective donor.

“We know whether or not that person needs the next level of care,” Hamilton said. “Ultimately, that has transformed the way we do development. Now we’re able to target the right folks at the right time.”

The power of analytics doesn’t stop there. The Autry now gathers information on which  exhibits, events, and offerings excite each donor and then personalizes communications accordingly. For example, the museum can suggest a return visit to view thousands of artifacts to the visitor who lingers over the Native American history exhibit.

“We developed relationships by really looking at all the things that they’re connected to,” Hamilton said. “When someone walks in the front door or buys a ticket, or if someone donates online or attends an event, I’m able to tell you all the points of engagement for that individual at any point.”

Within a year of implementing Blackbaud’s solution, the Autry grew its renewal and  retention. “It has completely changed our membership and giving,” Hamilton said.

Using Resources More Effectively

With Blackbaud as a partner, the Autry revised how it spends time and money on communications. “We used to just try our best to throw out 20- or 30,000 mailings into the world, and that wasn’t cutting it,” Hamilton said.

Now, the museum uses wealth screenings and scoring mechanisms, analyzes interests, and reinforces campaigns with targeted email reminders. “That, again, has basically transformed the way we do business,” Hamilton added.

“Blackbaud helps us convert ticket buyers to members and donors,” he said. Moving forward, the Autry hopes to engage key community stakeholders to champion, promote, and share the museum’s story—a step that can begin with a single ticket sale.

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