What’s the difference between a Donor, a Patron, and a Sponsor?

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“What’s the difference between a Donor, a Patron, and a Sponsor?”

The greatest “Achilles Heel” of any community theatre or arts-related enterprise is funding. That’s why many are started with good intentions and high hopes, only to fold in coming years for lack of financial resources. So how has BDACT navigated the rough waters and survived to celebrate our 60th Season?  Simply put, we rely heavily upon the generosity of our community members.

I am in awe of the financial assistance offered by this community for many programs and organizations in this area.. It’s one of the things that makes living, working, and visiting here so much better.  On behalf of BDACT I offer my heartfelt THANK YOU to those of you who choose to support this magical place where self-confidence, teamwork, inclusion, and artistic expression are fostered and continue to grow for generations..

Hands-on donation of time and skills for set building, props locating, ushering, acting, directing, costuming, concessions and a myriad of other areas is essential.  But without financial support all of those areas are in vain.  (BDACT is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, and donations are tax deductible)  Financial support from individuals like you can be offered in three ways. I have often been asked to define these.  So, here are the differences:

PATRON MEMBERSHIP.   A patron is an individual or a business who has decided to pledge an amount to support any expenses BDACT may incur.  Each year in the fall we conduct our annual patron drive. You may have received our appeal letter. Keeping track of patron donations is an essential part of our budgeting for the coming year.  Patron donations are categorized in levels, based upon the amount of the patron membership.  Patrons receive certain benefits associated with those levels.  I’m certain most people donate to keep the theatre going because they believe in the value the arts adds to the community.  The patron level benefits are simply a “thank you” perk from BDACT back to the patron. Patron names are published in every mainstage playbill throughout the season. 

SPONSORSHIP.  A sponsor donates an amount of money to support a particular show, or series of shows.  The sponsor may be an individual or a business.  The sponsorship will be used to offset the expenses of the run of one play over several performances or weekends, a one-night event such as a concert, or even a series of events tied to a category, such as youth programming. Sponsors receive advertising perks in exchange for their donation, such as their logo or name on marketing materials, in the playbill, mentioned on the radio, or on the slide show before every mainstage event. Sponsorship levels dictate where and how a sponsor will get recognition for their contribution.  

DONORS.  These are individuals or businesses who have decided to support BDACT but have declined to be listed as either Patrons or Sponsors. Donations can be made at any time for any reason and usually occur randomly from corporate accounts, estate attorneys, a check sent in the mail, or simply in the tip jars in the lobby of the theatre.  

I want to make it clear that the staff and Board of Directors at  BDACT take financial matters very seriously, and do everything we can to reuse materials and find avenues to procure needed items for free, or at the lowest cost possible.  Still, BDACT would simply not be able to pay its expenses without all three of these types of financial support.  Some of these are more predictable than others, and some are a total surprise. There are patrons who also make random donations. There are businesses who are patrons and sponsors at various times.  But without all of them, there would be no Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre. 

If you are interested in financially supporting BDACT in any, or several, of the ways I mentioned, please check our website: BDACT.org for more information.  As always, I can be reached with questions regarding anything related to BDACT at: managingdirector@bdact.org.


Next time, I’ll answer another recurring question:  “I’d like to direct a particular show.  What is the process to make that happen at BDACT?”