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Bridging The Gap: Fundraising in the New Economy

April 1, 2011 8:30 am - April 2, 2011 9:00 pm

San Francisco, CA

The National Alliance for Musical Theatre invited you to beautiful San Francisco, California on April 1st and 2nd for our 2011 Spring Conference – Bridging The Gap: Fundraising in the New Economy.

This Conference explored strategies for obtaining and cultivating donors, with a focus on building long-term relationships. We heard from NAMT members and outside experts on planned giving, major gifts, capital campaigns, board fundraising, corporate sponsorship and more. Keynote speaker Penelope Burk shared her expertise on Donor-Centered Fundraising. Attendees had opportunities to brainstorm and collaborate among the NAMT membership, plus ample time to network and socialize at meals and a cocktail party, and conference weekend add-ons that helped everyone to discover all San Francisco has to offer with fellow NAMT members.


  • Two full days of panels, speakers, breakout sessions, brainstorming and networking!
  • Meals
    • Breakfast, lunch and breaks are included on both conference days
  • Networking Cocktail Party
    • After the first day’s conference, unwind with your colleagues at the elegant Starlight Room, featuring stunning views of San Francisco, and catering by Top Chef‘s Jen Biesty and Tim Nugent.

Plus, join us for Conference Weekend Add-Ons for more chances to network with NAMT members and explore San Francisco (for an additional charge):

  • Pre-Conference Networking Dinner
    • If you’re coming to town the night before the conference, join us for dinner on the bay at Butterfly Restaurant to catch up with friends and the NAMT staff. ($60 per person)
  • Alcatraz Night Tour
    • Tour Alcatraz, the infamous and notorious former federal prison. The Night Tour is a unique program limited to just a few hundred visitors per evening. It includes special programs, tours, and activities not offered during the day. ($45 per person)


Keith Cromwell, Red Mountain Theatre Company
Mark Fleischer, Adirondack Theatre Festival
Bernie Griffin, The 5th Avenue Theatre (co-chair)
Andrew Holtz, Arizona Theatre Company
Sharon Maroney, The Broadway Rose Theatre (co-chair)
Rebekah Sassi, The Walnut Street Theatre



Thursday, March 31 – Pre-Conference Add-On

6:30 pm Pre-Conference Networking Dinner
Pier 33 at Bay Street

Conference Add-On Event – Sign up when you register!

Friday, April 1 – Start of Conference

8:30 – 9:30 am Check-In and Continental Breakfast
Omni San Francisco Hotel – 500 California Street, 2nd Floor

Breakfast sponsored by The 5th Avenue Theatre

9:30 – 10:15 am Welcome
30-Second Funding Fables

Union Square

10:15 – 11:15 am Keynote Speaker: Penelope Burk
Communication is the Ask: Donor-Centered Fundraising

Union Square

Penelope Burk is an author, researcher and mentor celebrated for some of the most important innovations in modern-day fundraising.

Donor-Centered Fundraising is the breakthrough strategy that enhances donor loyalty and inspires more generous gifts.  Based on seven years of research and testing with hundreds of charities and donors, Donor-Centered Fundraising is the only statistically-supported fundraising philosophy that brings donors and charities together to achieve measurable, long-term results. With special information on strategies and approaches for arts organizations, and practical advice on how to connect more effectively with donors in an age of information overload, this program explores how donors’ sensibilities are changing in response to the economic challenges by answering the question, “What do donors want?” and providing fundraisers with a practical strategy that satisfies their needs and explores how not-for-profits can become masters of their own messages.

Click here for more details on this session (PDF)

Click here to purchase Penelope’s book at a special discounted rate

11:15 – 11:45 am Networking Coffee Break


Sponsored by The Muny

11:45 am – 12:45 pm Turning Fundraising into “Friendraising”
Union Square

Panelists will explore the sometimes tricky relationships between funders and institutions. What drives people to give? What makes them happy? We’ll look at tools including donor surveys and discuss how to perform triage in a downturn, plus hear from some donors to learn what motivates them.

Moderated by Bernie Griffin (The 5th Avenue Theatre) with Johnny Avots (California Music Theatre), Brenda MacRoberts (The Broadway Rose Theatre), Greg Phillips (Arts Consulting Group, Inc.) and Tim Whalen (ACT).

12:45 – 2:00 pm Working Lunch: Where Philanthropy is Headed in This Age of Anxiety

North Beach/Mezzanine

In a rapidly evolving world, fundraising cannot shield itself from change. But making the right choices when resources are so limited and competition so fierce is the challenge that every not-for-profit faces. Luckily, your donors can point you in the right direction.

Over a working lunch, Penelope Burk will unveil brand new research conducted just last month with 17,000 American donors about what they want from their philanthropic relationships in 2011, what it will mean for your bottom line, and how you can help your theatre get out in front of the trends.

Click here for more details on this session (PDF)

Lunch sponsored by Dallas Summer Musicals

2:00 – 3:00 pm Team Fundraising
Union Square

Your entire staff plays a role in fundraising, not just the development department. How can board members and existing donors help you meet your goals? What must artistic directors and other leaders do to motivate the staff and the funders?

Moderated by Sharon Maroney (The Broadway Rose Theatre), with Anne Holmes (TheatreWorks), Meredith McDonough (TheatreWorks), Susan Medak (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), Kerry O’Keefe (The 5th Avenue Theatre) and Phil Santora (TheatreWorks).

3:00 – 3:15 pm A Word From Our Sponsor Travelzoo
Union Square
3:30 – 5:00 pm Tracked Seminars
These two seminars will repeat at both the intermediate and advanced level. Pick the track that’s right for you, and attend both topics in a smaller group.
3:30 – 4:15 pm Seminar: Major Gifts and Planned Giving – Intermediate
Union Square

Get tips for creating and maintaining a major gifts program, implementing long-term strategies, building relationships with estate donors and more.

Bernie Griffin (The 5th Avenue Theatre) and Andrew Holtz (Arizona Theatre Company)

Seminar: Building a Fundraising Board – Advanced
North Beach

Learn how to inspire and engage your board, recruit new board members, track the involvement of existing members, and make sure your board is reaching its full potential.

Rebekah Sassi (Walnut Street Theatre)

4:15 – 5:00 pm Seminar: Major Gifts and Planned Giving – Advanced
Union Square

Get tips for creating and maintaining a major gifts program, implementing long-term strategies, building relationships with estate donors and more.

Bernie Griffin (The 5th Avenue Theatre) and Andrew Holtz (Arizona Theatre Company)

Seminar: Building a Fundraising Board – Intermediate
North Beach

Learn how to inspire and engage your board, recruit new board members, track the involvement of existing members, and make sure your board is reaching its full potential.

Rebekah Sassi (Walnut Street Theatre)

5:30 – 7:30 pm Networking Cocktail Party
Harry Denton’s Starlight Room
at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel
450 Powell Street, 21st Floor

Sponsored by McCoy-Rigby/Peter Pan and Broadway LA

Open EveningClick here for local resources and recommendations

Saturday, April 2

9:00 – 10 am Breakfast Breakouts: Networking for Good
Omni San Francisco Hotel – 500 California Street, 2nd Floor
Telegraph Hill

Start the day talking with your peers about how we can use our NAMT connections to collaborate not just on musicals themselves but on fundraising strategies and ideas. How can we scale and adapt each others’ successes to use nationwide? How can NAMT help you connect with each other throughout the year?

Led by Keith Cromwell (Red Mountain Theatre Company) with the Spring Conference Committee and NAMT Staff

10:00 – 11:00 am Case Studies: Capital Campaigns
Union Square

Hear from a variety of NAMT members of all sizes about how they’ve pursued successful capital campaigns in this economy.

Broadway Rose Theatre, Sharon Maroney
Goodspeed Musicals, Caitlin Quinn
Red Mountain Theatre Company, Keith Cromwell

11:00 am – 12 noon Corporate Sponsorship in the Age of Austerity
Union Square

How can we find new incentives for corporate funders when everyone is cutting back? Should corporations be treated as individuals? What do they get out of sponsorship? How do in-kind donations figure into the formula?

Moderated by Andrew Holtz (Arizona Theatre Company), with Allison Cagley, CFRE (California Music Theatre), Laura Little (Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre), and Pam Mowry (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma).

12:00 – 1:15 pm Lunch
Telegraph Hill

Sponsored by R&H Theatricals

1:15 – 2:15 pm Research, Development and Results: Technological Tools for Fundraising
Union Square

Stay ahead of the curve on the latest tools for tracking, maintaining and engaging your donors – without losing sight of the all-important personal relationships. How do technological solutions impact staffing? What role can social media play?

Moderated by Rebekah Sassi (Walnut Street Theatre) with Chandra Asken (San Francisco Symphony), Mark Chambless (Dallas Summer Musicals), John Kenyon (Nonprofit Technology Educator & Strategist) and a special video message from Festival alum Eddie Sugarman on “Crowdfunding.”

2:15 – 2:30 pm A Word From Our Sponsor
Tannen and Associates
Union Square
2:45 – 3:30 pm Community Building
Union Square

Creating strong ties to your community can have far-reaching benefits, including increasing the strength of your board, exposing yourself to new funding opportunities, unusual avenues for marketing, in-kind donations, and relationships to drive new grants. We’ll explore how community-building can play a vital role in the strategies and goals discussed so far.

Moderated by Mark Fleischer (Adirondack Theatre Festival) with Brett Bernardini (The Spirit of Broadway), Keith Cromwell (Red Mountain Theatre Company) and Jim Mercer (Pittsburgh CLO).

3:30 – 4:00 pm Wrap-Up and Final Thoughts
Union Square
4:00 pm End of Conference
5:55 – 8:35 pm Alcatraz Night Tour
Details on meeting location TBA.

Conference Add-On Event – Sign up when you register!


Attendees included representatives from the following organizations:

42nd Street Moon
Adirondack Theatre Festival
Arts Consulting Group Inc.
Berkeley Rep
California Musical Theatre
Center Theatre Group
Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre
Cygnus Applied Research Inc.
Dallas Summer Musicals
FCLO Music Theatre
Goodspeed Musicals
Gorgeous Entertainment Inc.
Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
Junkyard Dog Productions
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma
Maine State Music Theatre
McCoy-Rigby Entertainment
Mountain Play Association
Music Theatre International
Music Theatre of Wichita
Musical Theatre West
Nonprofit Technology
Educator & Strategist
North Carolina Theatre
Ogunquit Playhouse
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre
Pittsburgh CLO
Red Mountain Theatre Company
Samuel French Inc.
San Francisco Symphony
Sheridan College
Music Theatre Performance
Tannen and Associates
The 5th Avenue Theatre
The Broadway Rose Theatre
The Little Theatre On The Square
The Muny
The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization
The Spirit of Broadway Theater
Theater of the Stars
Theatre Under The Stars
Theatrical Rights Worldwide
Utah Festival Opera Company
Village Theatre
Walnut Street Theatre
Woodminster Summer Musicals