Kentucky School of Art, Louisville, KY

The Kentucky School of Art at Spalding University (KSA) started four years ago with a vision.  Founder and Chancellor, Churchill Davenport, wanted to bring an innovative, first rate school dedicated to the visual arts to Louisville.  Through partnership with Spalding University students have a unique opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities with a concentration in Art and now a Bachelor’s in Fine Art.  Since its inception in 2009, enrollment at KSA has grown to more than 100 students today.

However, as a young, start-up organization, keeping a steady stream of operational capital can be a challenge.  Meghan Greenwell, Director of Institutional Advancement, states: “We had an influx of capital at the beginning, but then we hit a lull.  We needed a way to stabilize support and grow our donor base. We decided the best way to do that was through a capital campaign.” Before moving ahead with the campaign, KSA leaders sought the help of fundraising counsel to conduct a feasibility study.  Meghan recalls, “We interviewed several firms.  The Covenant Group really stood out.  Len made us immediately comfortable. He had such a great attitude.  We really believed that he wanted to partner with us in this journey. It was clear he understood higher education as well as our unique position.”

Upon the completion of the feasibility study, KSA launched a $6.5 million campaign.  Because of the small development staff, Greenwell found the tools that The Covenant Group provided to be of great value.  “They provided me the tools I needed to manage the campaign.  In a one-person shop you don’t have time to create  reports and resources.  Having them readily available was such a great help.” She also mentioned that through The Covenant Group’s instruction, KSA has revamped the way they think about fundraising.  “The campaign has helped us legitimize traditional development methods…our approach to direct mail, the annual fund, etc. It’s the first time we have implemented ‘best practices for a university’s Development Office and the change has been very positive and brought about great results.”

Although the campaign is only in the early phase of a 5-year effort, already the results have been impressive.  So far KSA has raised almost $4 million.  Although Greenwell states that the results have not really surprised her.  “The Covenant Group has done a great job of helping us recognize and uncover the true potential of our donors. Len predicted our success, he saw the potential capacity in our database.” In addition to the financial impact of the campaign other positive outcomes have included a broader donor base, increased visibility and staffing additions.

Greenwell would not hesitate to recommend The Covenant Group to other firms seeking counsel.  “The Covenant Group is so genuinely committed to client success.  Len is always accessible; I can call him anytime and he is willing to talk, give advice and help me find solutions. They are able to help the organization see the whole picture. They do a great job of bringing the team together and they unify people to get results.  They are absolutely the best.”