Columbus Museum of Art

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Photo credit: Brad Feinknopf

A case for support does more than paint a picture

Eleven years ago, the Columbus Museum of Art launched its largest, most successful capital campaign in its history. The campaign had goals to boost sustainability by increasing earned revenue and endowment, competitiveness by increasing the capacity of the museum to hold special exhibitions and public events, and public value so that community members view the museum as an asset to Columbus and an experience to nurture. These goals extend across every aspect of the museum experience and Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) knew a success would require the entire community’s support. Benefactor Group helped CMA with the foundation and tools needed to make these goals a reality, including a case for support that is still used today.

The Columbus Museum of Art had magnificent ideas for fostering growth, but had difficulty clarifying the monumental value the museum adds to the Columbus and museum communities. Benefactor Group helped CMA articulate why art matters and for whom, especially as Columbus aspires to provide the highest quality of life for its citizens. Indeed, “Art matters for captains of industry, the captain of the hockey team, and a captain of the National Guard…Art Matters for everyone.”

Melissa Ferguson, Director of Marketing and Communications at CMA, shared, “Benefactor Group set the foundation for the messaging used throughout the campaign. They helped us explain why the museum is relevant, fine-tune our story and reach a larger community. We still use some of the messaging in our communications today.” Melissa said there are excerpts from the case for support that she still uses frequently to communicate the museum’s value with others. One such example, “With recent additions, the museum’s diverse collection tells a deeper, richer story of our community, our nation, and our world…opening the door to new audiences and new partners who see themselves reflected in a collection of works they now find relevant.” Thus, a diverse collection of art in a museum is essential to make an entire city come alive.

This was the largest campaign CMA had ever embarked on, and “Benefactor Group helped us lay the foundation to make it successful. This case for support from Benefactor Group, although conducted over a decade ago, is still supremely helpful today in communicating the value we add to the community and to the world.” Melissa shared, “the longevity of the work Benefactor Group did for us is remarkable. It’s like they knew who we were and thus helped us to see who we could become.”

“The case for support has been helpful not only because of the value we can now communicate, but also the information and methodologies we can reference and share about museums we are competitive with. With this case for support, we connected effectively with donors, community members, investors, and artists who all present different values and priorities for the museum.”

Melissa shared that while some of the museum’s ideas for creativity have changed since, the focus on visitor experiences was planted in this campaign. She added, “We want to make sure to reflect our community in our museum.” The case for support kept CMA on track to achieve this goal.