arts and culture

Holy Mega-Goal! Chief Development Officers and the Superhero Environment

Holy Mega-Goal! Chief Development Officers and the Superhero Environment

The welcome email lands in your inbox: A new Chief Development Officer (CDO) is starting at your non-profit. When this fine fledgling bursts though the lobby, she’s donning a mask and cape. She is, after all, a Development Superhero who excels at everything: asking, planning, rallying the board, grant writing, and donor retention – she’s exactly who we need to save our non-profit.

With the expectations placed on today’s fundraising professional, is it any wonder a CDO position has an 18-24 month average tenure at most institutions?

Performing Arts –– Why is Marketing More Important than Fundraising?

The welcome email lands in your inbox: A new Chief Development Officer (CDO) is starting at your non-profit. When this fine fledgling bursts though the lobby, she’s donning a mask and cape. She is, after all, a Development Superhero who excels at everything: asking, planning, rallying the board, grant writing, and donor retention – she’s exactly who we need to save our non-profit.

With the expectations placed on today’s fundraising professional, is it any wonder a CDO position has an 18-24 month average tenure at most institutions?

Every Annual Fund Dollar – One Face but Two Names

I’ve helped dozens of performing arts organizations with annual fund campaigns. Sometimes my services are called upon when the goal’s already been established, and that makes me rightfully nervous. My first question is: how did you establish the goal? Sometimes I hear this methodology: we’ve figured out the gap and that’s our annual fund goal. Or, “last year we raised 6% over the prior year, so we’re aiming for 9% this year.” And then there’s my favorite, “the CEO set the goal” goal.

The Conundrum: Annual Fund or Endowment? Which is More Important?

It’s not a trick question.

RSC regularly receives calls from prospective performing arts clients who are interested in pursuing an endowment campaign. With the long-term cash flow needs, who can blame them? However, too often the desire for an endowment campaign is based on other revenue areas failing – or at least not keeping pace with the institution’s needs – and are not exactly the ideal environment to launch a successful major gift effort.  So, in most cases, our answer is the same -- don’t launch an endowment campaign if ticket sales and annual giving are trending in the wrong direction. Why do we so often make this suggestion?  It’s simple...

Twenty-Four Hours of Magic in Omaha

contributing writing by RSC Senior Consultant Jeremy Hatch, cfre

At RSC we are frequently asked to counsel on the viability of online giving efforts, Facebook solicitations, special auctions and other “gadget” fundraising activities. As our clients can attest, we are often skeptical of these “innovative” fundraising approaches. Why? Because innovation is sometimes used to replace the fundamentals of a disciplined and well-executed annual campaign, leading too often to predictably poor results and critical time lost. We define the annual gift as – say it with us – Reliable and Renewable Support. 

Have You Reached Your Limit?

A recent television commercial boasts, “More is better. We want more!”.  Arts and cultural organizations have meditated on this mantra for years – they can always use “more.” More money. More staff. More donors. More everything. But, can there be too much of a good thing? In some cases, RSC says, “yes”.  Take, for instance, the tenure of a board member and the idea of term limits.

Client Spotlight: Back from the Brink with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra

2012 was a challenging year for the orchestra business with too little good news or much encouraging progress. 

However, for theShreveport Symphony Orchestra (SSO), 2012 proved to be the year of the turnaround.  Partnering withRobert Swaney Consulting(RSC) through a combination of a development assessment, interim staffing and ongoing counsel, the SSO began the process of rebuilding its annual fund, sponsorship program and peer-to-peer fundraising climate.

RSC Launches Fundraising Educational Video Series for Non-Profit Organizations

Indianapolis – Robert Swaney Consulting, Inc. (RSC) has released the video series, “RSC: Arts Fundraising / Engaging and Keeping Partners”, available to the public free of charge, and accessible via Youtube. Featuring RSC Senior Consultant (and certified fundraising executive) Scott Giffen, the series captures excerpts from a workshop generously sponsored by the Missouri Arts Council and presented to local arts leaders in Springfield, Missouri. Aimed to provide “best practices” related to non-profit fundraising, RSC’s seven-part video series focuses on various sub-topics ranging from the 'Components of the Right Ask', 'Ask Techniques' and 'Thanking Your Donors'.

The Fiscal Cliff Deal and Your Non-Profit: Moving Forward with Practical Advice and Action

Contributing writing by RSC Senior Consultant Jeremy Hatch, cfre

Welcome to 2013! Less than a week into the New Year and already our world is changing with some mixed news from

Your Donors Can Make It!

Congress. Over the past few months, many RSC clients (along with board members, volunteers and donors) have expressed concern and fear about changes to tax law in 2013.  Some donors have stated that they will likely not be able to give with the same fervor as they once did because of the impending changes. 

Before donor-paralysis sets in, let’s look at what we know so far, based on the agreement passed by Congress on January 1:

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