by Jay Gabler | 6/9/09
The Children’s Theatre Company has recently hired a new major gifts officer: Jodi Glaser, who was most recently with Planned Parenthood. I covered the news with a very short blog entry that wasn’t particularly informative; as a follow-up, I asked Glaser to field a few questions about the work before (and behind) her. She replied via e-mail.
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Most recently, you’ve been individual giving director at Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. How do you expect your work to be different, moving from a health care organization to an arts organization?
Work with higher-level individual donors is the same in several ways across non-profits—it involves getting to know the donor and what they like about your organization and then finding a way to keep that donor connected, interested, involved, and eventually ready to make a bigger financial commitment to the organization. Donors to each place are generally very passionate about the issues the organization represents. There are some obvious differences between PPMNS and CTC—mainly the different projects and programs donors can fund, so my first task is to really understand what appeals most to CTC’s donor base. At CTC, there will be many opportunities to encourage donor involvement and provide tangible examples—by attending plays, touring the theatre, and participating in behind-the-scenes opportunities—of how their donations directly contribute to the theater.
How is work like yours different in the current economic climate versus a more robust climate?
Fundraising is challenging work any time—but especially during challenging economic times. The tough economy impacts not only individuals but also corporate and foundation donors so it means everyone has to work a little harder to meet our goals. My work is with higher level donors so the ups and downs of today’s economy may not impact them quite as significantly as other donors (many are able to continue giving at their regular level) but certainly some of them will give less. What fundraisers need to do during times like this is to continue to provide worthwhile opportunities and reassure donors their contributions are well utilized, so that when the economy—or their own situations—turn around, they will remember us.
Can you comment on your specific goals at CTC over the coming months and years?
I am working with the director of development to strengthen CTC’s major gifts program, increasing the number and size of major gifts and improving donor cultivation and gift stewardship. CTC has not had a major gifts officer for a few years so I am responsible for rebuilding the major gift program here—focusing primarily on developing and nurturing relationships with higher-level donors; developing new strategies for identifying, cultivating and soliciting major donors; and stewarding current donors. I will be managing CTC’s Luminary Circle campaigns (donors over $2,000) and a portfolio of individual donors with the capacity to make major gifts in order to meet our fundraising goals.
In your view, what’s the special role of CTC in the rich local theater scene, a scene that includes multiple other major companies producing theater for children?
The Twin Cities has so many wonderful arts organizations, including several theatres for children. CTC is unique though because of its size (it is the largest children’s theater in the country) and the high quality of the productions it does each year. CTC is a magical place for children, families, and grandparents; and it’s a great way to introduce children to the arts and theater. I’ve brought my two sons for several years, and I am really excited to be working here and supporting this great organization.
Photo: Bradley Greenwald and Reed Sigmund will star as Bert and Ernie in Bert & Ernie, Goodnight! at CTC this September. Photo by Dan Norman, courtesy CTC.
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