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Case Study: Louisville Visual Art Association (Louisville, KY)

The Louisville Visual Art Association (LVAA) is among the naton's oldest and most respected visual arts organizations. Established in 1909, the LVAA has engaged artists and audiences through an energetic agenda of education, community outreach, artist support, and exhibitions that nurture creative expression and stimulate dialogue.

In 2006, as they approached their 100th anniversary, LVAA leaders sought expert outside counsel to assess their development programs and annual events, evaluate the LVAA's potential to grow its major gifts program and assist in repositioning the board's expectations and committee roles, providing renewed commitment to recruit and retain a new generation of board leadership. LVAA looked to the team at Ashley|Rountree to take a fresh look at the whole organization, to not shy away from the tougher mission-based dynamic of "education" versus "exhibition," but to do so with a particular focus on philanthropy, fundraising and board/staff roles.

Through the summer and fall of 2006, our consultants worked side-by side with LVAA staff and board members to assess the recent history and trends of their annual support revenue streams, identify opportunities for growth and develop specific strategies for securing increased (or new) major gifts from new donors and estate gifts from loyal donors. Annual giving programs were evaluated and new plans were proposed to help grow the base of members and program underwriters. Comprehensive recommendations were developed for critical changes to the board's policies and procedures, committee roles and functions. A particular focus of the project was to substantially strengthen the role of the Development Committee and align its efforts more strategically with the LVAA's small staff and limited resources. Five years later, the LVAA has entered its second century with an even stronger record of service to the community and fundraising success.


Case Study: Farmington Historic Home (Louisville, KY)

Farmington Historic Home is one of Kentucky’s most invaluable historic and educational resources. A 14-room Federal-style home that was built for John and Lucy Fry Speed and their family of 13 children in 1815-1816, the house was the center of a 550-acre hemp plantation. In 1959, Farmington opened as the first house museum in the Louisville area and today the museum owns 18 acres of the original property.

Beginning in 2007, the staff and volunteer leaders at Farmington started planning for a comprehensive capital campaign to enhance educational exhibits and visitor services, and to complete critical restorations throughout the property. The Farmington Historic Home Trustees, which operates Farmington on behalf of the Historic Homes Foundation, contacted Ashley|Rountree for assistance in conducting a campaign feasibility study to determine the likely success of a proposed $1 million effort.  Since such a large campaign had never been attempted and the philanthropic appeal of the programs was admittedly specialized, the board thought it wise to engage outside expert help with deep expertise in local philanthropy and campaign management.

In addition to  conducting numerous confidential interviews with prospective donors, our consultants worked with staff and board to provide board training to prepare them for a major campaign and clarify roles and expectations. As a result of the study’s  affirming results, the board asked Ashley|Rountree to remain as campaign counsel, assisting staff (only two full-time employees and no dedicated fundraising professional) and a newly formed campaign committee. Early in the campaign, our consultants were helpful in guiding efforts to receive a $200,000 challenge grant and two $100,000 gifts, among others. Despite the recent national recession, Farmington was successful in going over its $1 million goal. Just prior to the campaign’s completion in early 2011, Ashley|Rountree consultants led the board in two planning retreats focused on strengthening and growing the membership of the board with an eye on increasing sustained annual support for Farmington.

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