The scope of our impact

by Jini Stolk

How the arts helped kill off the NEA — by trying to play the conservative “economic value” game”. The title alone of this piece caused me a few sleepless nights.

It’s a cri de cœur from arts advocate Matt Burriesci who’s facing up to the reality “that the NEA and the NEH as we have known them are likely to be completely dismantled in the next 24 months…” (Or sooner) How have the arts been complicit? “…because we, as cultural leaders…have spent far too much time articulating the economic and ancillary benefits of our disciplines and not enough time actually building and serving the culture.” Nor communicating that “The arts and humanities have value because they make us better human beings.”

A grave cautionary tale, for sure. But I wonder if our problem in Ontario isn’t that we’ve spent too little time articulating any of the benefits of the arts? The provincial government hasn’t provided an increase to the Ontario Arts Council’s $60 million annual base budget since 2009. The OAC receives $4.29 per capita compared to $13.33 for Quebec’s provincial arts funder. Not the best way, I’m afraid, to develop a “creative economy” – one of our government’s stated priorities – nor to “create jobs and growth” .

It’s unlikely we’ll see any unexpected announcements in 2017, but thankfully the arts community is gearing up to press for increased funding in the 2018 pre-election budget. Cheers to the Provincial Arts Service Organizations (PASOs) for taking on this important leadership role. Here are my hopes and dreams for a year of successful advocacy:

The true value of the arts – that they are the highest expression of humanity, that they touch and change hearts and minds, that they are the best way to stir empathy, compassion and understanding – is understood by millions of people. They should all – board members and audiences, school kids, teachers and parents – be encouraged to become our Champions. Letters, phone calls, emails, and personal communications from Ontarians who love but don’t earn their living from the arts would be a powerful underpinning to the direct advocacy of a.s.o.’s, arts organizations and artists.

But once you’re in a meeting with an elected official you need a range of facts, statistics and arguments to secure their support. Of the many politicians I’ve met with over the years:

  • Some are devoted to the arts, understand their impact and are willing to work on our behalf. They’re energized by hearing from their constituents and want facts and figures to help persuade their colleagues.
  • Some appreciate the arts personally, but are afraid that supporting them will put them off-side with voters. (I suspect this describes many members of the Ontario government.) Their spines can be stiffened by hearing from voters, and by cogent arguments about the arts’ contributions to tourism, the economy and jobs.
  • Some have nothing against the arts, but feel it’s an issue that lacks “urgency.” A groundswell of support would increase urgency, and this sort of politician will be open to arguments about inclusion, equity, youth and community development through the arts.
  • Some feel that government shouldn’t prop up a sector not supported by the market; they don’t want to fund the playtime pursuits of snobs and elites. U.S. politicians who’ve been trying to defund the NEA and NEH fall into this category – and we shouldn’t forget that there are and always have been Canadian examples. Would a public outcry give them pause? It’s worth a try.
  • Last but not least, it’ a rare politician who wants to deny their own children or grandchildren the opportunity to be inspired by the arts. Arts education is our secret weapon, one we use too rarely and not well enough.

Even though we prefer to be valued for our profound impact on people’s lives, it’s important that we don’t underestimate or dismiss the economic and social value of what we do. Ontario’s cultural sector is 4.1% of Ontario’s GDP, contributing $27 billion a year to the Ontario economy. This is larger than agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting ($4.8 billion), mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction ($6.2 billion), accommodation and food services ($10.8 billion), utilities ($11.4 billion), and transportation and warehousing ($21.5 billion). In 2010, there were 301,100 jobs directly related to culture industries in Ontario in 2010, or 4.5% of total employment. Far more is done by the province to support sectors with smaller economic impact providing fewer jobs.

I would love to see a provincial version of Toronto Arts Facts, which has been successful in detailing the economic and social value of the arts to Toronto, and Toronto Arts Stats, which has been equally successful in detailing the population’s wide support and involvement in the arts.

I would also love to see the Ontario government put their money where their “creative economy” mouth is and provide an appropriate, generous increase to the Ontario Arts Council in next year’s budget.

Other readings:

Why art matters to America? By Thomas P. Campbell, the director and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

How to block Trump arts cuts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coming up at Creative Champions

by Jini Stolk

Creative Champions, Toronto Arts Foundation’s arts board network, continues its exciting line-up of workshops and events in 2017.

We started on February 7th with a special session on governance and fundraising at Artist-run Centres, arts service and membership organizations. It was a hot topic: people braved the year’s slickest ice storm to be there – a testament, I think, to the special role and satisfactions of serving organizations whose missions involve improving the opportunities, strength and voice of artists. Many creative professionals have their first board experiences at Artist-run Centres or a.s.o.’s, hopefully moving on to spread good governance practices (and creative fundraising chops) throughout the sector. As always, it was fascinating to hear the commitment and pertinent questions of many of those in the room.

Details on upcoming sessions will be announced soon, but if you’d like to get a head start on our topics for the rest of the year (and remember that Creative Champions is the only ongoing networking and learning opportunity for non-profit board members in the Province) here are a few advance readings:

April 4:  Diversity and New Perspectives

Good governance includes diversifying boards

Boards, succession and diversity

Diversifying your board: why it’s good and how to do it 

June 6: The Road to Fundraising Success: creating a plan and sticking to it

Creating fundraising savvy boards

Fundraising on a budget and understanding the fundraising budget 

June 18: State of the Arts: TAC’s annual update on Toronto’s arts community

Artists and cultural workers in Canadian municipalities

October 16: Advocacy: a core board responsibility

Overcoming the fear of advocacy

November 27: Succession Planning = Planning for Success 

Arts organizations need better succession planning now 

The importance of nominating committees

Interview strategies for boards and candidates 

AND we’re hoping to announce a special speaker for this Fall, but advance readings would ruin the surprise. Stay tuned for more.

Contact Michelle Yeung ([email protected]) at the Toronto Arts Foundation if you or board members you know would like to receive notices of Creative Champions arts board workshops and other events.

Posted in Board & Governance | Leave a comment

Skills we don’t know we have

by Jini Stolk

I hadn’t thought about it in these terms until I read this brief post in Nonprofit Quarterly. Could it be that the success of many arts managers rests on an unrecognized skill – that of being dauntlessly determined to succeed no matter how difficult and terrifying the situation?

It sounds right to me and I could reel off the names of GMs I’ve known whose eyes lit up with excitement when faced with doing the impossible on no budget. No wonder companies find it difficult to replace these warrior managers when they leave.

Because it’s equally true that the stress of many arts managers rests on that same factor. Maytree’s Five Good Ideas recently featured Dr. Kwame McKenzie, CEO of the Wellesley Institute, talking about stress management and resiliency. He posted an illuminating link to “The Inverted-U model” which shows that peak performance is achieved when people experience a moderate level of pressure (not an endless series of days with nothing but.)

That’s why one of the findings in the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts’ (TAPA’s) recently released Stats Report Phase Four is so alarming for the future of our industry. Despite increasing numbers of productions and performances, TAPA members report a decline of more than 50% of full-time and part-time artistic and non-artistic staff in the past decade. If this is true, then managers’ ability to dance on the head of a pin is not sustainable.

What do you think, my friends? Is this an urgent enough reason to rally behind a full-out push for increased funding to the Ontario Arts Council?

Let’s also spend a moment on an equally interesting counterpart: skills we don’t know we don’t have.

Denny Young in Hilborn: Charity e-news says that “If we’re having trouble with our boards, tension, lack of trust, micro-managing or lack of engagement, it might be because we’re not managing our boards and their succession” well.

Ask yourself if these are among the skills you use in your leadership role as the manager of an arts organization:

  • Are you always recruiting new board prospects; watching for future leaders: identifying, cultivating and bringing forward new members? Do you have a succession process and system in place?
  • At board meetings do you bring reports that show your vision, leadership ability and competence?
  • Do you credit your board when they make important decisions that move the organization forward? Do you report back to them so they know the results of their actions?
  • Do you understand that in your day-to-day relationship with board members, information is power – especially when shared? Do you inform board members between meetings of what’s going on? Do you take the time to meet with them one on one on issues they’re most interested in?

Denny Young ends his post by asking “Is this a lot of work? Yup.  But isn’t managing interfering, mistrusting Boards harder?”

I would add one more skill to his list.

  • Do you share with your board members the context and endemic challenges of running professional arts organizations? Do you recruit them to be “creative champions”, speaking out on behalf of the arts to elected officials and other decision-makers?

Isn’t it harder to achieve positive change for the arts without involving all our most passionate supporters in the effort?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Board & Governance | Leave a comment

Remembering

I’d like to say a fond farewell to four wonderful women who had a great impact on my life, and whose loss in 2016 touched me deeply.

Sandi Ross (1949-August 31, 2016) 

Sandi was an actor, activist and force of nature. She was an early leading champion of diversity on stage and screen; an untiring proponent of “non-traditional casting” (and it really was non-traditional at the time) and the founder and producer of the first national casting directory of visible and audible minorities. We collaborated often and joyfully around the Toronto Theatre Alliance’s Cross Cultural Caucus. She was an exceptional actor on stage, T.V. and screen; one of the founding members of Obsidian Theatre; and the first woman and first person of colour to be elected president of ACTRA Toronto. Her beautiful rumbling laughter could fill a room, and one of Sandi’s hugs would warm you for days.

Marjorie Sharpe (1931-June 13, 2016)

Marjorie was the first, the very first, funder of Creative Trust: Working Capital for the Arts, using her small discretionary budget as President and CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation to help fund a feasibility study for a new venture in sustaining mid-sized creative music, theatre and dance companies. She was intellectually curious, trusting and warmly supportive – and delighted by Creative Trust’s eventual success. Many years later we were honoured to be included in her wise and invaluable book Governing with Soul (written when she was 79 – setting a high, high bar for non-profit career achievement!)

“Marjorie Sharpe’s new book about compassion, caring – and, yes, soul – as a factor in how boards work brings a new vocabulary and an interesting new perspective to the topic of good governance…It is a deeply felt, values and vision based approach…with an emphasis on respect, fulfillment, compassion and shared values.”

Sudha Khandwani (1933-November 3, 2016) 

Sudha was a pioneering producer and promoter of Indian dance in Canada, artistic director of the Kalanidhi Fine Arts festival, member of a close and accomplished family (Menaka Thakkar was her sister), and leading light of Toronto’s dance community. She was also one of the finest collaborators I’ve ever worked with, a calm, generous and delightful partner when Toronto Dance Theatre had the honour of helping host dynamic dance legend Chandralekha’s only tour of Canada. I loved hearing her voice on the phone as we dealt with the sometimes complicated details of the tour (which included Chandralekha setting a dance on the TDT company) – and seeing her in person was always a joy. (Here is a link to the beautiful memorial presented by her family and friends )

Joan Chalmers (1928-December 2, 2016) 

I was much too in awe of Joan Chalmers to claim her as a personal friend, but she was a huge presence and unmatched example of fierce and indomitable support for the arts. The Chalmers Awards for Creativity and Excellence in the Arts had extraordinary impact on the national arts scene. Toronto Dance Theatre was one of the 21 totally surprised and immensely grateful recipients of Joan’s generosity on her 70th birthday in May, 1998. “In 17 minutes, she gave away $1-million. The unwary recipients were gobsmacked and profoundly grateful for this reverse birthday gift. As they thanked her, Ms. Chalmers smiled through her tears.” It was an unforgettable lesson in the joy of giving.

I will also always be grateful for Joan’s founding of the M. JOAN CHALMERS NATIONAL AWARD FOR ARTS ADMINISTRATION – shining a light on some of the cultural sector’s most creative and talented, but too often unacknowledged, professionals. Four of my very best friends received that honour between 1995 and 2001, its final year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fundraising’s shifting sands

by Jini Stolk

The Ontario Nonprofit Network’s Nonprofit Driven 2016 conference revealed an unexpectedly forceful consensus. It’s time for both government and non-government funders to move to trust-based grantmaking. Vu Le’s description  of a gradual shift to “a default starting relationship between funders and nonprofits (that) is one of suspicion” is as recognizable here as below the border. We see it in funder practices like restricted funding and application forms that are rigid and prescriptive – all designed, it seems, to make nonprofits more “accountable.”

It appears, from a range of presentations and discussions at the conference – including one I participated in called Shifting Sands: Trends in Nonprofit Funding – that we are collectively both puzzled and fed up. The arts and other nonprofit communities want to spend more time improving our programs and changing people’s lives, and less time calculating which of our line item expenses is eligible for funding and what percentage of each we want the funder to cover.

The Conference also revealed a strong move towards meaningful evaluation: strategies that help us do our work better, tied to learnings that are useful to grantee, grantor and our colleagues in the field. Often and increasingly, nonprofits are told what to evaluate and how to evaluate it, and then are left to their own devices to get it done. ONN has been building an evaluation agenda that asks “What are we trying to learn? Will it lead to action? and How can we help each other?” – and has produced an evaluation discussion guide to help nonprofits develop useful evaluation criteria and processes.

The ONN blog also contains a forceful argument by Andrew Taylor for accountability to the communities where our work happens, as a first priority.

No one should mistake these discussions and initiatives for resistance to accountability – or to learning (which should be aimed at continuously improving our programs and practices) – or to keen observation and analysis of results (to help us understand what really works and how best to make a real difference) – or to sharing results (not only with funders but also with colleagues, to move our collective efforts forward.)

Why are some funders defining “accountability” as how closely our projects fit into a detailed theory of change whose impact, process and results are pre-set by the funder? It may help to remember that the 2015 survey of What Canadian Donors Want shows that public trust in Canadian charities has increased six percent since 2011 to 73%, and that more Canadians than ever believe that the nation’s nonprofits are well-managed and act responsibly with the donations they receive. We must be doing something right.

The arts community is uniquely blessed in having dedicated arts funding agencies that act at arm’s length from government; provide operating funding; where assessment is by peer juries; where staff and jury members understand the comparative impact of applicants on the arts and larger community, and know from experience what’s involved in building the organizations and productions being funded; where program changes are aligned to the stated goals of community; and where communications are open and continual. The latter is an essential requirement of good grantmaking, and all the rest are the basics of best funding practice.

The arts have a special difficulty in measuring the intrinsic impact of participating in our programs, and the expanding impact this may have on other aspects of a person’s life or of a community. But I do think we know how to measure joy, and that’s a good starting point for whether our work is meaningful and successful.

Some excellent funders are leading the way in new thinking about trust-based granting and evaluation. The Metcalf Foundation’s Creative Strategies Incubator is based on creating communities of shared learning to accelerate organizational change; the Lawson Foundation focuses on collaboration and continuous learning ; and The Maytree Foundation has beautifully described its move from donor-focused philanthropy to community-centred giving based on mutual benefit and trust. And the Department of Canadian Heritage has moved way out in front of other government funders by recent changes to speed up and depoliticize the grants process – eliminating those stomach churning “it’s on the Minister’s desk” weeks, allowing more multi-year agreements for ongoing clients, and scaling risk assessment to the size and type of grant. So very logical and so very rare.

Noticeably missing from this list, and the elephant in the room at the conference, is our province’s largest non-profit funder, the Ontario Trillium Foundation. I was going to list all the OTF’s changes that have confounded and angered the nonprofit community, but that would be long and depressing. I will quote only one colleague as example: “It was already a crapshoot ‘cause none of us know how they’re making those decisions – but now they’re telling us we can only roll the dice once a year?!” Okay, two: “Writing these grants has become like The Hunger Games: a fight for survival where you don’t need to be the strongest to win, just the smartest.”

We would all be happy, even delighted, to help the OTF rediscover its chops as a trusted and excellent grantor. But not by way of filling in an online survey directed to its “customers”…

Posted in Fundraising | Leave a comment

Why it matters

by Jini Stolk

Last week’s Get on Board workshop (October 26, 5:30 – 8 pm at the Textile Museum) was a rare opportunity for members of arts boards to hear directly from a major funder about the importance and impact of good governance.

Claire Hopkinson, Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation Director and CEO, made it very clear that good boards do matter to the financial and administrative viability and overall well-being of the organizations that apply to TAC for funding. In fact, the Creative Champions Network (a TAF initiative that’s presented 5 workshops for arts board members in 2016, following an initial 2014-15 series on Getting the Basics Right) was formed to help board members build their skills, understand their roles and responsibilities, and hear about the most important ways to help their organizations thrive – while sharing challenges, triumphs and good ideas with fellow board members.

As always the room was full and Claire, with panelists David Abel, Michael Wheeler and Michelle Yeung, all speaking from an amazing depth and breadth of experience, offered a full slate of insights and useful advice. From Claire’s presentation:

  • Running an arts organization is challenging and complex: it’s always best when artistic, staff and board leaders are bringing their different skills to the task of making an arts organization thrive
  • There’s a huge variety in size, type, vision and “culture” among Toronto’s arts organizations, and an equally varied number of creative solutions to effective board work: the Toronto Arts Council isn’t looking for a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to governance
  • Good governance isn’t only about the board’s work, but about how the board, artistic and management leaders reinforce and support each other‘s work
  • The best boards pay particular attention to the company’s future and sustainability, providing financial care and oversight, building resources and participating in long term planning

From our panelists during the very lively Q&A:

  • Having short (1- or 2-year) renewable (or not!) ensures that board spots are filled by energetic individuals who love the art, “get” the organization, and contribute in positive ways
  • Boards are especially valuable in building connections with the community, drawing new people closer to the organization
  • Every board member should make an annual donation in an amount that “makes them proud” (isn’t that a wonderful way to think about it?)
  • A board’s role evolves as an organization evolves: many boards start out as hands-on supporters, but take on more policy and advisory responsibilities as the company grows and develops
  • It can be lonely at the top: the best board chairs act as sounding boards for their Artistic or Managing Directors, becoming invaluable partners in problem-solving

Next year’s Creative Champions Get on Board sessions and dates will be announced soon, starting with Diversifying Arts Boards and including Fundraising for Boards 2.0 and Succession Planning. Make sure you’re on the mailing list to receive information about upcoming events by sending a note to Natalie Kaiser [email protected].

Posted in Board & Governance | Leave a comment

Merry and bright

by Jini Stolk

Simone Joyaux makes a strong case for abandoning frenzied year-end fundraising in favour of a carefully planned 12-month strategy involving your whole organization (although read carefully for some excellent end of year tactics.) However, I know and you know that my real and virtual mailboxes are going to be flooded with holiday donation requests in a few weeks, and who’s really to argue? Charity Navigator reports that 31% of annual giving to U.S. nonprofits last year took place in December; 12% in the last 3 days of the year.

Never underestimate people’s ability to procrastinate – and sorry if that includes you. Here are a few bits of advice to help you get through the next few weeks and meet your annual goal.

This piece by Mark Rovner and Sarah Haug of Sea Change Strategies is called A Procrastinator’s Guide to Year-End Fundraising although it’s much too thoughtful and meaty to guide you through a truly last-minute effort. But it contains some wonderful insights into email strategies, web giving and how a well-designed Donate Now web page can increase contributions. There are a few ideas here you can implement quickly, and others that you’ll want to consider, plan for, and space out over the coming year.

If you’re planning on participating in Giving Tuesday November 29, there’s a new e-book that analyzes the growing impact on nonprofits worldwide of this 24 hour give-a-thon, and provides good tips on how to make it a success for you – including free email templates to send to your donors. Classy also has a free resources pack, with 10 successful email templates along with social media templates and examples from some of last year’s most successful campaigns. Giving Tuesday Canada’s website has toolkits, guides, webinars and other resources to help you along.

Even – or especially – for year-end campaigns, if you’re able to recruit some of your board members and other supporters to help get the word out  by asking their friends and family on your behalf, all the better. You can reach beyond current donors this way – and any ask is stronger if it feels personal – and strongest (absolutely without question, whether the request is mailed or emailed) if it comes from your artistic director, a board member or your managing director.

This piece by Whitney Brimfield, written to comfort organizations that missed Giving Tuesday last year, provides pre-comfort if you know you’re not going to be able to pull it together for November 29, 2016. She reminds us that the basics are timeless – and that overall success comes from a consistent, year-round, donor-centred effort.

And Canada Helps is becoming more and more helpful. They now offer website forms (simple, easy to fill out forms that don’t frustrate prospective donors) allowing your supporters to give directly from your own website, year-round or in response to special campaigns.

So. Mazel tov. Bonne joyeux noel, and break a leg. I hope that this year’s fundraising fulfills all your hopes and dreams.

Posted in Fundraising | Leave a comment

Regaining control

by Jini Stolk

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been truly distressed by the political situation in the country below ours. Or maybe my spirits are low because of the changing of the seasons.

Anyway, it’s time to pull myself together and stop watching CNN (forever); purchase an insulated jacket from MEC (available in maroon, blue or black); and take some of the following wise advice to heart:

  • Emotional agility is a learned skill that allows us to step back and respond to stress or negative feelings with curiosity and acceptance.
  • Energy is contagious. It springs from a purposeful vision, engages and inspires, and is an essential aspect of inclusive, successful leadership.
  • Confidence, composure, connection, clarity. These can all be developed with personal reflection and practice, and are all parts of the “executive presence”  we’ll need to cope calmly and decisively when Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale turns out not to be the story of a future dystopia but simply a precis of last week’s breaking news.
  • If we’re thinking of giving up, throwing it all over and hiding from the world, maybe we need to refresh our ikigai – the “reason for being” that’s found in the confluence of what we love, what we’re good at, what the world needs, and what we can be paid for.
  • But if it’s really just about the Changing of the Seasons, maybe this by Two Door Cinema Club will help.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

People first

by Jini Stolk

Those of us in the arts don’t need to be reminded that our most important resources are people: those who create the art, support the art, and engage in the art. But our work can be so intense that I think we sometimes forget to care for ourselves and each other. That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s focus on decent work in the non-profit sector.

We’re all blessed with colleagues and employees who are motivated by the desire to make a difference, to have work that’s personally meaningful and meaningful to the world. The least we can promise in return is:

  • Fair and equitable hiring
  • Pay that allows people to support themselves and their families, over a lifetime career
  • As many alternative benefits as we can provide (because that pay will never be as high as in some other careers)
  • The opportunity for supportive guidance and personal and professional growth
  • A humane and caring workplace
  • A genuine connection to the mission and the art

Vu Le always provides wise advice, and I like the 10 agreements he recommends we make to ourselves as we go about the challenging work of making the world a better place, including: assuming the best intentions of each other; providing feedback honestly and directly; and not forming cliques or spreading gossip. (In this he’s joining another reputable anti-gossip advocate, Pope Frances.)

An organization rife with internal conflict will mirror that in outside relationships. Maxwell King, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation, warns arts and other nonprofits that foundations will “pay careful attention to a situation where things seem to be in turmoil.”

If you find yourself in a place where leadership staff is burned out, unsure, or unsupported, or where people feel they’re faced with so many demands that they’re not up to successfully fulfilling them, leadership coaching might be advisable.

It all starts, as a friend recently reminded me, by honestly confronting the hiring and employment challenges nonprofits face. Jon Stahl’s interesting website says that “If nonprofits want to successfully compete for talent — and keep good people around for the long haul – they need to pay enough so that money isn’t an issue, then out-compete other employers on meaning, relationships, autonomy and opportunity.” He warns against a number of unspoken, unacknowledged and harmful employment practices. “Most nonprofits would rather spend additional dollars growing their team or launching new programs and accept turnover as a “fact of life” than invest in retaining their best people for the long haul.” Also: “The overhead myth, preferences for new programs over proven effectiveness, underinvestment in leadership development, failure to admit and embrace failure — these phenomena all contribute to unhealthy ideologies about compensation in the nonprofit sector.”

If you are committed to being a Decent Work-place, ONN’s new Employee Benefits program is well worth investigating – and the enhanced pension benefits recently agreed to between the provinces and the federal government seem tailor made to fill the retirement income gaps in our sector. We should embrace it joyfully (increased employer contribution requirements and all.)

Posted in Organizational Development | Leave a comment

Boards embracing fiscal oversight…

by Jini Stolk

Or so we sincerely hope. A Fine Balance: An Arts Board’s Role in Financial Oversight and Responsibility on June 13 was another sold-out event from the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Creative Champions Network. Extremely wise words from keynote speaker Lois Fine (Director of Finance and Information Technology at YWCA Toronto and a playwright, performer and producer) – on what a board needs to look for in reviewing budgets and financial statements; the reasonable expectations between board members and arts managers regarding reporting; and those tasks that should be assigned to the Treasurer and finance committee, among other topics – built great energy and a fascinating discussion on fiduciary responsibility (really.) Thanks also to panel members Ghislain Carol, David Kilburn, and Craig Morash for generously sharing their experiences and learned insights.

For those who couldn’t be there, a valuable Resource Sheet is up on the TAF’s website. And remember that while “The budget is the budget and we can’t budge it”, regular updates on variances and projected year-end actuals are always in order!

Our next session on September 7th will cover the board’s role in fundraising, a topic intimately tied to an organization’s financial health and sustainability. Details will be announced soon.

I still hear stories about new board members who announce at an early meeting that they hate fundraising and don’t want to do any. First of all, and this WILL be covered at the workshop, why wasn’t there an honest discussion during initial meetings about the company’s funding needs and ways for board members to be meaningfully involved in resource development?

And secondly, does fundraising have to be a horrible humiliating slog? Of course not. Those of us who’ve done a lot of it know that while a thick skin, a large and frequently replenished pipeline, and a “that’s too bad but moving on…” attitude are necessary to successful campaigns – there’s as much satisfaction and pride to be found in fundraising as in any other part of our work.

I don’t expect board members to be involved in crafting fundraising emails, but while I’m on the topic I thought I’d share these useful pieces with the managers and fundraisers who are reading this:

Posted in Fundraising | Leave a comment
  • Newsletter Sign Up

  • Creative Trust’s History

    Read about Creative Trust's history.
  • Recent Posts

  • Archives