How a renowned arts organization re-invigorated their campaign with significant success

Jacob’s Pillow is a nationally and internationally renowned center for dance; home to the longest-running and largest dance festival in the U.S., a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and a National Landmark.  Comprised of three stages, multiple studios, The School at Jacob’s Pillow, and a renowned Archives, the Pillow is situated on a stunning 220-acre campus in the Berkshires. Its mission is to support dance creation, presentation, education, and preservation, and to engage and deepen public appreciation and support for dance. Most of the world’s best dance companies have performed at Jacob’s Pillow. Its significance cannot be overstated, as recently indicated when the executive and artistic directors of a dozen of the most famous dance companies shared when Jacob’s Pillow took its campaign, Dance We Must, public.

The Opportunity

Jacob’s Pillow engaged Development Guild’s counsel mid-way through Dance We Must, which aligns with their new strategic plan and focuses on 3 key areas: renewing campus facilities (which includes the construction of a new theatre); strengthening the artistic core through expanded programming and events for professionals in the dance field; and boosting civic leadership and community engagement. The Pillow was seeking to reinvigorate the campaign’s direction and management as they entered the second half of its duration. The organization was also navigating staff changes on their development team and several financial adjustments to projects that would drive the campaign goal upwards – three times!

The Results of Our Partnership

We partnered with Jacob’s Pillow Executive and Artistic Director, Board, and senior leadership to strengthen the campaign’s structure. Our counsel included:

  • Revisiting multiple prospect lists and creating a model to illuminate remaining prospects and to develop new ones, creating the first shared moves management practice to monitor progress.
  • Conducting a full inventory of the campaign messaging and tool kit, creating a new donor proposal and a refreshed message platform (this occurred several times over the remaining life of the campaign).
  • Partnering with the Executive Director to repopulate the campaign committee in a way that would influence remaining prospects and provide some support and relief to the up-to-now single chair.
  • Regularly communicating with campaign leadership to build trust and energy (biweekly meetings with the Executive Director and Director of Philanthropy and biweekly meetings with the campaign committee).
  • Leading the search for a new Deputy Director Philanthropy, which resulted in the placement of Bonnie J. Cox, who previously held senior development roles at Springfield College and Amherst College.

Looking Forward

Dance We Must is slated to end in December 2021. As of June, the goal has been raised three times, from $18M to $20M to $22M. Thanks to the generosity of the Board, a $3M gift just after the halfway mark, and a remarkably driven campaign committee, Jacob’s Pillow is at $20.7M and the goal is comfortably within reach. Festival 2021 will launch the Seat Campaign playing on the comfortable new seats in a first-ever air-conditioned theater by featuring a photo booth-type fun with a “this seat could be yours” flair. It is our hope that the mini seat campaign will yield $550K! 

The leadership and knowledge Development Guild has provided as our campaign consultant has been nothing short of excellent. Their team is curious, thoughtful, and accountable. Early in our work together, they gained the trust of our Campaign Committee who rely on them for expert advice and counsel. We are grateful for the structure they have helped us to create and the tools they have given us. We’re also grateful to them for their partnership.   

- Pam Tatge, Director

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