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Board & Volunteer Development

Case Study: The de Paul School (Louisville, KY)

The de Paul School is a private, independent, non-sectarian school dedicated to teaching students in grades 1-8 with learning differences how to learn, how to be independent, and how to be successful. Founded in 1970, The de Paul School has provided unsurpassed service to children with learning differences and the School also guided educators in other states to create schools modeled after the Louisville example. The de Paul School is nationally accredited and one of the nation's largest independent schools for students with learning differences. Programs similar to The de Paul School have continued to thrive in Eastern Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania.

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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.

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Case Study: Volunteers of America - Kentucky (Louisville, KY)

Volunteers of America of Kentucky (VOAKY) is committed to serving individuals and families throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Southern Indiana, by creating positive change in the lives of individuals and communities through a ministry of service.

In addition to being one of the region's largest and most comprehensive human services organizations, VOAKY is an interdenominational church with a distinctive ministry of service. VOAKY opened its first location in Kentucky in 1896, the same year social reformers within the Methodist faith founded the national organization on the promise to "go wherever we are needed, and do whatever comes to hand," filling important gaps for those who would otherwise be overlooked. Today the organization provides professional services to individuals with developmental disabilities, families facing homelessness, individuals at risk for HIV/AIDS and affected by HIV/AIDS, veterans who are homeless and addicted, and other individuals recovering from addiction.

Seeking assistance with a strategic initiative focused on community engagement, the organization turned to Ashley | Rountree. Ashley | Rountree evaluated Volunteers of America's major gift program and focused on increasing corporate support in the Louisville Metro area. Efforts included identifying qualified prospects that were uniquely matched to the organization's mission, developing winning strategies to secure new gifts and consulting on potential future board leadership for the organization. Through the entire project, Ashley | Rountree staff remained on-call providing timely coaching and guidance to senior staff.

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Case Study: Seven Counties Services (Louisville, KY)

Seven Counties Services was founded in 1978 and seeks to build healthy communities by helping individuals and families who are affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities, addictions and abuse realize their potential. It serves as the state-designated regional behavioral health and developmental services center for the core seven counties of Metro Louisville, and it is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Kentucky, with 1,400 employees assisted by more than 400 volunteers, all serving about 32,000 persons each year.

In 2007 the staff and board reached out to Ashley | Rountree for expert guidance in strategic planning, asking our consultant to create and guide a board retreat process that would result in a new multi-year plan for the entire organization. Although their organization is among the largest nonprofits in the state and the staff includes several of the region's most highly respected administrators, Seven Counties leaders realized that they needed unbiased assistance from the outside in order to assure that this planning process was open, thorough and responsive to long-term needs of the region. This activity, which took place in 2008, would also need to examine the fundraising or advancement plans in order to insure that funding was balanced. The consultant from Ashley | Rountree designed a comprehensive 2-day planning retreat that looked at mission, vision, situational and SWOT analyses, and programmatic/funding implications.

The process moved into specific strategies and action steps, followed by creation of a planning task force that implemented the recommendations from this retreat. In 2011, Seven Counties successfully and smoothly navigated a significant transition in its top leadership, a process that was assisted in great measure by the early planning efforts that were completed a few years earlier.

Steve Moss, Board Chair for Seven Counties, recalls, "the task of developing a strategic plan was daunting, but with the help of Jeff Ashley and Chris Stevenson, we conducted two all- day retreats that helped us really drill down into the process. With what we learned, the board and the staff are now a well-oiled machine. The staff has taken ownership and we have a document that serves as a lighthouse in the navigation of difficult times we are in."

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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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