This past academic year, approximately 70 Bolz Center students and alumni, advisory board members, and arts and nonprofit professionals from Wisconsin and beyond converged upon Grainger Hall for the Bolz Center Collegium.
The topic of this year’s event was Creating Impact Through Shared Leadership and Collaboration, and the morning began with a panel discussion, Setting Up Your Framework for Shared Leadership and Collaboration. The discussion was moderated by Bolz Center alumna, Wendy Thomas of Leadership Tulsa, and the panel included Diane Ballweg of Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation, Laurie Fellenz of the Madison Metropolitan School District, Ray Gargano of the Overture Center for the Arts, and Dennis Johnson of Forward Community Investments. Ms. Fellenz and Mr. Gargano spoke to the group about Any Given Child Madison, a partnership between the Overture Center and the Madison Metropolitan School District. Ms. Ballweg spoke about her company’s collaborations with area organizations, and Mr. Johnson spoke about the importance of equity and access. Later, the panel addressed topics ranging from the difference between acknowledging and recognizing donors and keeping the mission statement visible during meetings where significant decisions occur.
Following the panel discussion, the keynote address was given by Janet Brown of Grantmakers in the Arts. Ms. Brown spoke about Collaborating on Optimal Performance Through Capitalization Strategies and discussed the importance of capitalization and healthy balance sheets, pointing out that too often nonprofit organizations are content to simply break even. She also spoke about the common and potentially harmful giving reaction that “they don’t need our money” when nonprofits operate with a surplus. For me, one of the more interesting topics addressed was the challenge faced when donors restrict their gift or when donors are not content with funding for “operating expenses.”
Following lunch, we were provided an opportunity for small group discussion based on issues discussed in Ms. Brown’s address. I was lucky to have Bolz Center guest and prominent arts blogger, Diane Ragsdale, at my table, and our group discussed similarities between development in the arts and higher education, as well as the idea of funding based on artistic innovation.
The Bolz Center Collegium ended with a reception at the Fluno Center, where participants were free to mull over the day’s discussions. This event was truly a success with great discussion and a plethora of networking opportunities, and I know many of the current Bolz Center students are already looking forward to coming back as alumni for a future Collegium.