Givz app. How do we ‘Other’? Museum Self-Policing?

This month I thought the three articles below could be used to discuss topics in fundraising, psychological biases that impact efforts to create more inclusive arts organizations, and museum ethics.

Will the Givz App Mean More Giving?

The app Givz sounds like it can be a helpful tool for promoting mobile charitable giving. The Blackbaud Institute reported in 2018 that online giving to arts and cultural organizations had increased to a total of 8.1% of annual fundraising. People are slowly becoming more comfortable with this form of donating to a range of non-profit organizations.  Givz reduces donor losses that can occur when encountering a cumbersome process for making an online or mobile donation. A productive outcome of using this app could be that arts organizations would be able to follow up with Givz donors to engage them in other giving programs and to build long-term relationships with them. A focused discussion could ensue about strategies arts organization might develop to better leverage online and mobile giving.  

High-Status Identities?

I find the British Psychological Society monthly newsletter the psychologist a good source for interesting research and ideas that can be applied to managing and leading arts organizations. The recent article about “non-conscious knowledge activation” struck me as a way to explore the problems cultural organizations face as they attempt to implement diversity, equity, and inclusiveness (DEI) initiatives. The article is framed around a reflection on experimenter biases psychologists may harbor, but I think the topics covered are worth exploring when considering how an arts organization structures its DEI efforts. For example, how does our “automatic working memory” undermine our aspirations to build more inclusive organizations?

Are Museums Self-Policing?

Last month I shared a link to a story from The Economist about museums dealing with public reactions to artworks appropriated from other cultures and financial support from donors found not to be operating in the public interest (The moral maze of museum management). A recent article from the NY Times questions the ability of museums to police themselves and provides a more in-depth option for a class discussion about whether public trust in museums is being undermined. Is this really the case? A conversation could also be started about how well cultural organizations are doing sharing their values with the public. Finding a cultural organization’s values statement can often be challenging. How important is it to make these statements available to the public? For example, if an organization isn’t helping the people see how its values are connected to its mission then how ‘valuable’ are these statements in the first place?

That’s all for this month. Since the academic year has ended for many of you (or will end soon), I will take a break myself, and I will be back in early August with an update to the Management and the Arts Blog. I hope you have a great summer.

Best wishes,

Bill Byrnes


This new app lets you give to charity like you’re Venmoing a donation

Givz makes it take just one click to make a donation, so there’s no excuses now.

John Converse Townsend, Fast Company, April 17, 2019

Despite the fact nearly half of Americans can’t come up with $400 for an emergency, everyday people are powering a great philanthropic boom. In recent years, as much as 70% of contributions in the U.S. have come from individual donations.

If you’re reading this, though, chances are you’re not regularly writing checks and licking stamps. And if you are, well, surely you wish there were an easier way. You’re literally trying to give your money away, so why can’t giving be as easy as paying back a friend who picked up the dinner tab?

“It’s a horrifying stat, but somewhere between 60% and 90% of people who start to fill out their name, address, credit card, and phone number drop off before they actually finish donating,” says Andrew Forman.

Forman, a former investment banker, is the founder of Givz, a new free app, available for both Apple and Android devices, that simplifies the giving experience. It’s like Venmo, but for charity.

To read this article, please use this link:


How do we ‘other’?

Peter Hegarty, the psychologist newsletter, May 2019, Vol. 32

Psychological research and practice can enhance or reduce social fairness, and it often does both. This article examines how and why researchers inadvertently reproduce social inequalities when certain habits of thought affect our framing of our research findings.

In 2016 Tamika Cross, a young African-American woman, was a passenger on a flight across the USA when cabin crew asked if any doctor on board could help in an unexpected medical emergency. When Dr. Cross came forward, she was initially prevented from helping the ill passenger; the cabin crew took some time to be convinced that she was indeed a doctor. When a white doctor next presented himself, Cross was reportedly told, ‘Thanks for your help, but he can help us.’

Cross’s experience could have been particular, but the viral response to it from other young African-American professional women suggests that it is not. Category norms for professions may fold in not only information about gender, but also race, and their intersections (Cole, 2009). And they can be a matter of life-and-death.

Of course, this was a real-life version of the now famous surgeon riddle:

A man and his son were away for a trip. They were driving along the highway when they had a terrible accident. The man was killed outright but the son was alive, although badly injured. The son was rushed to the hospital and was to have an emergency operation. On entering the operating theatre, the surgeon looked at the boy, and said, ‘I can’t do this operation. This boy is my son.’

In their 2006 study, David Reynolds, Alan Garnham and Jane Oakhill found that about half of people who have not seen this riddle before failed to find the correct answer that the surgeon was the boy’s mother. Surely everyone these days knows that some surgeons are women, so why do they find the riddle difficult? Because the noun surgeon automatically calls to mind imagery of a man.

To read the full article, please use this link:


Money, Ethics, Art: Can Museums Police Themselves?

Holland Cotter, NY Times, May 9, 2019

For generations Americans tended to see art museums as alternatives to crass everyday life. Like libraries, they were for learning; like churches, for reflection. You went to them for a hit of Beauty and a lesson in “eternal values,” embodied in relics of the past donated by civic-minded angels.

You probably didn’t know — and most museums weren’t going to tell you — that many of those relics were stolen goods. Or that more than a few donor-angels were plutocrats trying to scrub their cash clean with art. Or that the values embodied in beautiful things were often, if closely examined, abhorrent.

Today, we’re more alert to these ethical flaws, as several recent protests against museums show, though we still have a habit of trusting our cultural institutions, museums and universities among them, to be basically right-thinking. At moments of political crisis and moral confusion we look to them to justify our trust.

To read the article, please use this link: