In the black
Houston Symphony has more than 8 million reasons to be happy with recordfundraising
The Houston Symphony announced Monday that it had raised more than $8 million in donations to its Annual Fund — a record amount — from 4,200 donors and qualified for the first of two $1 million challenge grants from the Houston Endowment.
In April 2010 the symphony put forth a demanding long range five-year plan that involved expanding audiences, increasing its donor base through community concerts, implementing new programming formats and multi-media integration, all while strengthening roots with local residents. The Houston Endowment promised a two-part challenge grant if symphony management met certain operational benchmarks.
By surpassing $8 million and exceeding 4,000 donors, the symphony has succeeded and thus qualifies for the first million. The figures represent a 30 percent climb from the previous fiscal year, when 3,200 supporters donated $6.2 million.
“The outstanding success of the Houston Symphony in balancing its budget and surpassing all previous fundraising for its Annual Fund along with qualifying for a $1 million challenge grant attests to the excellent leadership of the orchestra’s management and the superior stewardship of its board,” Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, said in a statement.
“Nationally, these are very challenging times for fundraising in all non-profits, including orchestras, so we particularly salute the Houston Symphony’s success in achieving these results this season.”
Increasing the number of individual donors was a major goal of CEO Mark C. Hanson when he joined the symphony in May 2010.
"Over the next couple of years, we need to go from 3,000 annual donors to 5,000 donors on our way to closer to 10,000 donors," Hanson said in a CultureMap interview soon after taking the job. "I think we can do that. There was a time when the Houston Symphony had close to 10,000. I think most would agree the city of Houston is bigger, healthier and more vibrant than it was back then. So we should be able to convince that many if not more music fans in Houston to support the Houston Symphony, which by all accounts is a cornerstone cultural institution."
The members of the symphony's Board of Trustees doubled their collective contributions, and with the help of the "Million Reasons to Give" campaign, 1,200 new donors stepped up to the plate.
The symphony expects to finish the 2010-11 fiscal year in the black, due to increased ticket sales, Symphony League events, special projects, a critically praised tour of the United Kingdom and a joint project with Holocaust Museum Houston. Expenses and revenues are expected to be in the range of $25 million, though final audited results will be released in October.
Though symphony administrators and volunteers can breathe easier, for the time being, the challenge is far from over. Next year the goal is 5,000 donors to raise $9 million in order to earn another $1 million from the endowment.
One can feel energy walking through the halls of the symphony's offices. There's new vitality. And that's music to our ears.