The Support Center is currently in its third year of partnering with the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey to provide a series of workshops for all NJ grantees and targeted capacity building services for a subset of organizations. Mainstage Center for the Arts in Blackwood was one of six Horizon Foundation grantees to receive a $9,500 grant in 2016-17 for a six-month consulting engagement through the Support Center. Founded in 1989 as a summer theater program, Mainstage uses performing arts as a catalyst for individual expression and growth in youth and adults, and has become an integral part of South Jersey’s cultural scene. Through its Performing Arts Academy, School of Dance, Show Choirs and Summer Stage program, Mainstage serves over 800 young people and entertains more than 28,000 annually, with performances and events that include five fully staged musicals, three musical reviews and 20 short films.
A preliminary organizational assessment pointed to a need to grow and diversify the organization’s sources of revenue and prepare the Board for a greater role in fundraising. Mainstage currently derives around 87% of its $800,000 budget from earned revenue (ticket sales, classes, etc.), and fund development has historically taken a back seat to program development. Consultant Regina Podhorin worked with executive director Joe Bretschneider and the fund development committee to create a three-year development plan that aims to increase the proportion of individual and foundation funders to 20% of income by year three, an ambitious but attainable goal. Bretschneider says the timing of the Horizon grant and the work with the Support Center was “fortuitous,” as they had already begun a strategic planning process for the organization as a whole. The fund development plan will dovetail nicely with the strategic plan and will be a living document that can be adjusted in accordance with organizational needs. Bretschneider says he gained a lot of clarity about the process of putting a development plan together, adding that Podhorin “really got us” and was methodical and thorough in her approach.
Other Horizon Foundation grantees receiving capacity building support in 2016-17 are Hopeworks N’Camden, Kindersmile Foundation, Jewish Renaissance Medical Center, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and UrbanPromise Ministries.