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Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America
In response to member requests for more data assessment, OPERA America has embarked on a series of brief analyses derived from the Professional Opera Survey that companies complete each year.
The Surveys reveal that while total budgets among a constant sample group of U.S. Companies rose by 47% since the start of the new millennium, expenses allocated to support staff responsible for revenue generation have increased even faster. Marketing personnel costs have risen 82% since FY2000, and development personnel costs have risen 70% over that same time. (Looking at only the percentage gains does not tell the whole story, since technical and production personnel costs increase in one year the amount that marketing personnel costs rise over a decade.)
In an effort to boost revenue, staff members are being added to development and marketing departments at rapid rates, especially among the field's smaller companies. According to the 2009 Human Resources Survey, for example, there were 204 full-time development staff employed among U.S. Companies (excluding the Metropolitan Opera), 36 of which belonged to the 25 Level 3 and 4 companies that completed the survey. Compare that figure to the 2006 Survey, which revealed that there were only 172 full-time fundraisers on payrolls, 24 from the 29 Level 3 and 4 companies that completed the survey; the 2000 Survey showed 17 full-time development staff among the 44 Level 3 and 4 companies that completed the survey.
It is indeed good news that contributed revenue has risen dramatically over this time frame as the chart below demonstrates. As more and more development people have been hired, it appears that their impact has been significantly positive. The field's smaller companies, especially, have been able to achieve greater sustainability, in part, because of a concerted effort to shift the fundraising burden from the general director to new staff.
Have increases to development department staff sizes paid off? While productivity ratios are slightly lower now than they were 10 years ago, net revenue from development activities is increasing steadily each year and that fact is to be commended.
Next month's data analysis will focus on earned income generation, including an in-depth look at marketing productivity and ticket sales revenue growth among professional companies.
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