CASE STUDY

Chautauqua Institution

Chautauqua Institution is a 750-acre community on Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State. Dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values, Chautauqua’s programs explore the religious, social and political issues of our times; stimulate provocative thoughtful involvement in creative response to issues, and promote excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts. During its nine-week summer season, approximately 7,500 persons are in residence on any day and a total of more than 100,000 are inspired and enriched by myriad public offerings.

Highlights

Growth Strategy

Now in its 148th year, Chautauqua seeks to significantly expand its summer season to year- round events across the country while at the same time optimizing its summer season. With a dynamic master plan, 150 Forward, Chautauqua must capitalize its efforts in order to successfully move forward into the 21st century.

Strategic Goals

Schultz & Williams and Chautauqua launched a campaign planning study to determine the Chautauqua community’s ability to raise the largest ever goal for its comprehensive campaign totaling $150 million in order to fund the four pillars of the new strategic plan.

Prospect Assessment

S&W’s deep fundraising experience in arts and culture, education and religion provided a strong basis for our work as we conducted an in-depth assessment and then a planning study focused on Chautauqua’s top 40 prospects. Our national perspective on key issues and the philanthropic landscape were also key values.

The Challenge

As a 148-year-old institution, Chautauqua set out to re-define the Chautauqua experience for the 21st century. Just prior to the global pandemic, Chautauqua completed a visionary strategic plan, 150 Forward, defining the four pillars of its strategy for the future:

  • to optimize its summer season,
  • to expand its convening authority to a year-round season,
  • to drive the comprehensive health and sustainability of Chautauqua Lake, and
  • to grow and diversify revenue to address critical needs and fuel resiliency.

The Solution

Schultz & Williams undertook the complex undertaking of planning BOUNDLESS, Chautauqua’s aspirational comprehensive campaign in three phases. First, we conducted an internal assessment to explore and understand all aspects of Chautauqua and define its key planning issues. Through a series of in-depth internal interviews with Board and staff, a review of multiple planning and financial documents and a review of past development activity, S&W began to understand the complex issues facing this historic institution. Second, S&W conducted a series of external interviews with key donors and stakeholders discussing responses to the new strategic plan and receiving input into S&W’s draft Case for Support. Third, S&W created a detailed campaign plan outlining the various phases of the campaign and providing an action plan for executing the campaign. S&W participated in multiple board meetings and training sessions of both Board and campaign cabinet members. A multi-platform Case for Support was completed. To date, Chautauqua has raised $56 million.

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