Column: Atlanta Ballet leaps past goal, brings in $20.7 million
By Maria Saporta
Friday, March 27, 2012
The Atlanta Ballet has pulled off a feat that is almost unheard of in the nonprofit community.
The 83-year-old cultural organization is planning to announce March 30 that its capital campaign has raised $20.7 million — far exceeding its initial $14.8 million — in the midst of a recession.
“It is rather extraordinary,” said Arthur Jacobus, executive director of the Atlanta Ballet. “We are trying to look to the future to build a sustainable organization where your annual revenues are matching your annual expenses. We have got a ways to go.”
But Jacobus said the “Inaugural Directors Circle” luncheon on March 30 at the Ritz Carlton-Buckhead would be a time to celebrate the Atlanta Ballet’s recent successes.
The primary purpose of the campaign was to support the purchase and renovation of the Atlanta Ballet’s new headquarters, which opened in August, 2010 in West Midtown Atlanta.
The rest of the campaign funds are going to product and audience development, expanded marketing and long-term sustainability of the organization.
The top contributor to the campaign was the Thalia and Michael C. Carlos Foundation. Their son, Chris Carlos, and his wife, Merry, made a $3 million gift on the foundation’s behalf — the largest gift in the Atlanta Ballet’s history. Later they increased their commitment by another $1 million.
Other key donors included: Audrey B. Morgan; the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation; the Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation; the late Mrs. Laura Smith; the Holder Construction Foundation; and Atlanta Ballet trustee Patti E. Wallace, who has been providing financial support for the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra.
Also, the campaign received five gifts of $1 million or more.
Jacobus, however, said his goal is to make the Atlanta Ballet financially stable without having to depend on “extraordinary gifts.”
First, Jacobus would like to increase the annual giving to the ballet from $2 million to $4 million a year. The Atlanta Ballet is announcing a new initiative for individuals to become major annual donors of $10,000 or more. Currently, there are about 25 such donors, and he hopes that number will double by the end of the year.
Jacobus said the Atlanta Ballet also needs to build its endowment, which currently stands at about $3 million. For a cultural organization with an $8.5 million annual budget, Jacobus said the endowment should be between $12 million and $17 million.
Atlanta is seeking to become one of the leading centers for international arbitration for corporations from around the world.
When companies do business internationally with other companies, they typically have an arbitration provision in their contracts. That way they don’t have to litigate in foreign courts and can seek a neutral location to arbitrate their differences.
As Glenn Hendrix sees it, Atlanta has several advantages to help it develop into a legal arbitration center for international firms. Of course, it has Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which makes it a convenient destination for global corporations.
Hendrix, a partner with Arnall Golden Gregory, said Atlanta also has a favorable business environment to become a center for international arbitration with the presence of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
As a way to introduce Atlanta to the world, the Atlanta International Arbitration Society is holding a conference here from April 15 to April 17 at the Loew’s Atlanta Hotel when it will invite leading arbitration lawyers to discuss national and international issues in the field.
The conference and the effort is being supported by a host of law firms as well as the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
For a decade, BoardWalk Consulting has been helping nonprofit organizations find executives and board members to strengthen their mission.
On March 27, BoardWalk invited all its friends and associates to celebrate its 10-year anniversary.
Founder Sam Pettway said the firm has worked with more than 150 nonprofits in 25 states from Oregon to Rhode Island. After a couple of slow years during the recession, Pettway said revenues in 2011 were up 60 percent, and the first quarter of 2012 started out “even stronger.”
BoardWalk also gave two signature awards.
Rev. Joanna Adams received the Beacon of Light Award for her work in the community.
And Pierre Ferrari, president and CEO of Heifer International, received BoardWalk’s Encore Career Award.
For decades, Ginny Millner has been passionate about animal welfare in Georgia.
Now she is helping launch “Fix Georgia Pets” — an outreach program to prevent euthanizing dogs and cats by the spaying and neutering of animals.
Millner, who is married to Atlanta businessman Guy Millner, had about 150 people at her home March 20 to help raise money for the organization. It has raised about $60,000 so far.
It is estimated that 300,000 pets are euthanized annually in Georgia at a cost of $100 million to taxpayers. In metro Atlanta, it is estimated that 80,000 pets were put to death last year.