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The Boston Conservatory

“We had a sense that Campbell & Company understood both who we were as an institution and what the challenges ahead of us would be.”

-Richard Ortner, President, The Boston Conservatory


About The Boston Conservatory

Since its founding in 1867, The Boston Conservatory has trained exceptional young performing artists for careers that enrich and transform the human experience. Today, the Conservatory is known for its multi-disciplinary environment. It offers extensive programs in music, dance and theater, and it presents more than 200 performances each year.

The Challenge

When The Boston Conservatory approached Campbell & Company in 2005, it needed a change. Despite its long history of excellence, the Conservatory’s aging facilities discouraged audiences, students and families who may otherwise have come there as students or audience members. The school had never conducted a capital campaign and had only its small Board of Trustees to draw on as a donor constituency. As the Conservatory developed ambitious revitalization plans—including an expanded and renovated theater building, a new tower of dance studios and endowment funds for student scholarships and faculty support—leaders sought out what they called a “Goldilocks firm” that could provide the right balance of national expertise and local understanding.

The Approach

Following a philanthropic market study, Campbell & Company helped the Conservatory package a $15 million philanthropic goal which, along with institutional reserves, tax-exempt bond financing and new market tax credits, supported a $32 million project.

Serving as counsel during the organizational and leadership gifts phases of the campaign, Campbell & Company took a two-pronged approach. Our first focus was on strengthening internal capacity by working to reposition and expand staffing, engage the Board, and implement best practices, We helped create gift and pledge policies and procedures, developed training materials, and conducted training sessions with both staff and board members. We also provided other materials essential for a more comprehensive development program.

At the same time, we helped the Conservatory develop an expanded constituency of major gift prospects using an electronic screening of alumni and parent databases, as well as peer-based prospect identification by faculty and board members. We also helped the school implement a new relationship management program and create specific cultivation and solicitation strategies for many of the newly identified prospects.

The Results

After extending the campaign one year and increasing the goal to $16 million, The Boston Conservatory raised more than $17 million, including the largest gifts ever secured in the institution’s 144-year history. The Conservatory’s beautiful, state-of-the-art theater facility and dance studios are now praised by students, faculty and audiences alike.