Dear Rising Arts Leaders and the San Diego Foundation,
I would like to thank you for granting me a Spring 2013 RAL Quick Grant. Due to your $500 scholarship, I was able to subsidize my tuition and attend Indiana University’s workshop, Managing the Capital Campaign, in Chicago, IL from March 25-27, 2013. I was able to immerse myself in the entire process of a capital campaign and connect with fellow development professionals to further understand the evolving role of capital campaigns.
As expected, this workshop proved to be a very educational experience. A major focus for the workshop was on preparation for a capital campaign. From crafting a strategic plan to hiring a campaign consultant, much of the lecture and course material focused on how to build a solid fundraising foundation from which a successful campaign can be launched. This discussion was particularly interesting, as La Jolla Playhouse is in the midst of a Feasibility Study. Although I have managed this study as well as been the main contact for the consultants, much of the prep work necessary for the study to be accomplished was completed or in process before I arrived at the Playhouse. As such, my role became filling in the gaps of knowledge, but this workshop’s complete walk through of the campaign process helped me further understand what preparatory work has to be accomplished before a campaign, what needs to be fixed before we go any further and tips for any future campaigns that I may encounter.
Beyond the acquisition, a vast amount of knowledge and tips from the course materials, the workshop provided me with real-life context and experiences from my fellow classmates. Many group discussions evolved around what had or had not worked for various nonprofits in building a foundation for a campaign. Across all the social services, religious and art nonprofits, it was clear that there had to be a strong and well established major gifts and planned giving program to launch the campaign with ease. This strong focus on major gifts is clear, as large amounts of money are given to an institution in a short amount of time; but, it was interesting to analyze this idea against the Playhouse’s current major gifts program and how the changing economy will bolster a stronger program. Now, many of the nonprofits that I was speaking with were based on the East Coast and the Midwest and their campaigns were drawing upon building their long-term and established endowments, which is not the case for many nonprofits in Southern California. In fact, much of our campaigns are to build up small endowments to make them substantial; it was interesting speaking with smaller nonprofits about how they have made their endowments happen with either Board members each promising an amount in the estate plans or building an Endowment campaign to create endowed staff positions.
Because of my experience at this workshop, I feel more comfortable working on the current campaign at the Playhouse. I think that the tools and tips that I have learned will greatly benefit us as we move forward into the silent phase of the campaign in Fall 2013 and even further into the public phase. Thank you very much for this opportunity. I am most appreciative!