Helping funders and arts organizations realize their vision since 1996.



How often do you have to articulate your plans and map out how you’ll get there?

Could you identify the top three issues your organization faces — the ones that impede it from being fully successful?

A common response is “more funding.” But what would you do with funding and how would it strengthen your organization? 

The Association for Fundraising Professionals and Independent Sector remind us of the enormous competition for contributed dollars. Funders must justify their philanthropic decisions to their own boards. Therefore, the more serious your efforts to plan and the more concise your plan is, the more secure decision-makers will feel about their commitment—and the greater your likelihood of success.

This is a knockout report… one of the best things we’ve read…It is an incredible resource and gives us a road map to act. We are blown away by it.

—Bonnie Brooks
Former Presenting Series Director, Dance Center of Columbia College

—Laura Samson
Former Executive Director, Alphawood Foundation

Regarding strategic planning process for the Chicago Dance Community

Suzanne Callahan’s The Art of Strategic Planning: Creating a Roadmap for Success provides an overview of the major components of strategic planning. Read this and our other guides.

Our Approach

A good planning process is creative yet systematic. It is creative in that it begins with the ideas, insight, and experience from those individuals who are close to—and concerned about—the organization’s mission, activities, and constituents. Just as important, it involves systematic research. Thoughtfully gathering information allows an organization to answer important questions. Sometimes that research confirms a client’s beliefs, but sometimes it challenges or adjusts their assumptions. Either way, it positions them to make informed decisions.

Our Results

  • National Performance Network
    Retained to help lead two planning processes. Most recently, led the organization’s strategic planning to ensure its sustainability, including designing a participatory research-gathering process among its members, and writing the plan. Previously, facilitated a national team of NPN Partners in a planning process, which culminated in seven-figure funding from a major national foundation.
  • Movement Research
    Streamlined the organization’s leadership transition and finalized a detailed plan to guide and realize the organization’s vision.
  • The Washington Ballet
    Research and planning assisted in the opening of the company’s facility at the Town Hall Education and Recreation Center (THEARC) in Anacostia, an area of great historical significance to African American culture in Washington, DC. Enrollment surpassed expectations by 500%.
  • Chicago Community Trust
    Extensive research culminated in a plan for dance service provision. It illuminated artists’ needs from dance leadership in the city, including artists and funders. Read the full report or executive summary of Serving Dance in Chicago.
  • Urban Bush Women
    Assessed development, internal operations, staffing, and major donor efforts, resulting in enhanced understanding of these major areas of management and new relationships with potential donors.

Above: Nigel Campbell and Amy Miller in Home, Gibney Company. Photo by Scott Shaw.