In 2011, a group of Dayton community leaders asked a simple question: what can be done in a changing economic climate to make the performing arts in our community sustainable, accessible, and innovative? This community-wide conversation envisioned a new collaboration for Dayton’s performing arts: a strategic merger that would allow the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera, and Dayton Philharmonic to move together into a more secure and vibrant future.

At RSC, we are often asked if a merger with a peer company is a viable option. For many organizations, a merger’s benefits are obvious – shared staff, streamlined business functions, and integrated fundraising. The external environment, shared values, and fundraising capacity of each potential partner must nonetheless be evaluated beforehand.

RSC began an engagement with the new Dayton Performing Arts Alliance in 2015, following DPAA’s third year of operations. Artistically, the DPAA was strong with a nationally-recognized and artistically successful merger featuring unique, collaborative programming. The fundraising program, however, had yet to achieve its anticipated potential, and there was a pending financial shortfall ahead as start-up funding from national grant makers wound down. As a young organization, DPAA faced inevitable growing pains.

RSC was initially engaged to assess the fundraising program, provide recommendations to improve results, and match artistic momentum gained through the merger. After completing the assessment, RSC was retained to develop an aggressive, highly-customized, multi-year fundraising action plan, then partnered with DPAA during the first year of the plan’s implementation. 




RSC’s partnership with the Alliance yielded significant results, including the design and launch of a sustainability campaign, Advancing Together, which exceeded the cash fundraising goal of $1 million. In addition, RSC worked with the Alliance to create a three-year fundraising action plan to increase renewable, reliable contributed revenue as the centerpiece of a sustainable business model for the Alliance, and a successful first year of implementation. RSC also helped overhaul the Annual Fund program to emphasize general support of the Alliance, front-loaded giving, and expanded direct mail and telefund solicitation, resulting in 500+ new gifts, a 20% increase in gifts from subscribers, and a 37% increase in upgraded gifts, all in fiscal 2016.

While there are several benefits of a full merger or administrative partnership, organizations must realize the partnership will not be a quick fix to long-term sustainability. RSC helps non-profits explore the potentials of a partnership and develops the revenue and leadership systems to make mergers successful.  


What the client said

“We are, in many ways, a young organization, still building our programs and capacities,” explained President and CEO Paul Helfrich. “RSC has been a vital partner to the Alliance as we take the next steps in our organizational growth. This has been a vital and successful partnership.”



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