By Amy Ginsburg, From a Capacity Partners Case Study
As Covid-19 crashed into our area a year ago, the arts faced unique challenges as stages went dark and classes moved to virtual platforms. Professional theaters, such as the NextStop Theatre Company in Herndon, VA, were thrust into unfamiliar, unprecedented circumstances. Not every arts organization survived, let alone thrived, but NextStop Theatre Company, working with Capacity Partners consultants Amy Selco and Stephanie Hanson, reached for … and attained … a new level of strength and stability over the past year. A capacity-building grant from ArtsFairfax brought Capacity Partners and NextStop together.
When the pandemic rocked our economy to its very foundations, NextStop Theatre hesitated to fundraise because they believed their community’s need for food, shelter, and other basic necessities ought to be Northern Virginia’s top charitable priority. Evan Hoffmann, NextStop’s Producing Artistic Director, said, “Our roots grow deep in our community, so before we asked for funds – even though we believe the arts are essential for our souls — we made sure that our neighbors were getting their basic sustenance needs met first.”
Capacity Partners Consultant Amy Selco adds, “In June, the board recommended the launch of the NextStop Now Fund with an audacious goal of raising $100,000 in just six months to ensure their theater and its invaluable programs would make it through to the other side of the pandemic.”
Working with Capacity Partners, NextStop didn’t simply raise funds; it changed its culture. “NextStop did the difficult work, especially since all the work happened in a virtual space, to move from a transactional fundraising culture to one that embraced philanthropy as a core value,” said Capacity Partners consultant Stephanie Hanson. With the change of culture and the smart implementation of development strategy and tactics, NextStop Theatre has come within inches of making its long-shot goal of raising $100,000, added four new board members, and made fundraising an expectation of all board members.
“NextStop Theatre is a vital part of our community, and because of the generosity of our board members and hundreds of donors, we are here today and will be here tomorrow, producing theatrical performances and educational programs that are uniquely ambitious, intimate, and accessible both in and for the Northern Virginia community,” said Evan Hoffman with a determined smile. “The insight and wise advice from Capacity Partners, the fierce determination of our excellent board and staff, and the muchappreciated support from the community merged through our incredibly successful NextStop Now campaign to ensure the arts will continue to be a treasured pillar in Northern Virginia.”