The Haddon Turnpike's Ritz theater provides a reminder if not a warning sign that nonprofit sustainability is not achieved overnight. To ensure longevity and address the ups and downs of philanthropy and shifts in the environment, especially for the arts nonprofits like the Ritz, nonprofit boards must ensure their strategic plans incorporate thoughtful and multi-year goals and strategies.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Ritz is facing a $100,000 challenge this year and is about to do its first fundraising event, ever. It best be productive given the stakes but a better question: what's the board been thinking over these years? Were the challenges not evident? I believe that sustainability planning is one of the key elements to being a responsible board. Perhaps the $56K in annual donations represents what the board has to offer but this is clearly not enough (the CEO says that $300K will significantly reduce the stresses (this year). But subscriptions and revenues are down and if a trend, one of the tasks to identify in sustainability planning, I as board should be asking, "how much longer does the theater have" and what are our other alternatives? A responsble board could pose for instance that a building is not an organization perhaps opening-up even more possibilities.