Young Playwrights’ Theater
Many nonprofits in the region have had to rethink their operations following the recession, as donations dropped and human service demands increased. While a few were forced to close their doors, most have had to make tough or creative decisions to get leaner and more efficient. Some reached out to form new partnerships with other charities. Others gave board members new tools to get the word out and raise money in the community. Several looked inward, using the time, for instance, to convert paper-based systems to digital and update their services. As the Center for Nonprofit Advancement hosts its Excellence in Nonprofit Management award on Thursday, in partnership with The Washington Post, here is a look at some of best practices put in place by the charities selected as finalists.
Young Playwrights’ Theater
Type of work: Teaches students to express themselves through playwriting during in-school and after-school programs.
Location: The District.
Number of staff: Five full-time, two part-time.
Annual budget: $696,000.
Executive director: Brigitte Pribnow Moore.
Which management practice are you proudest of? “Continuing to invest in staff despite what was happening around us. We didn’t make any staff cuts. Keeping those good people at the table was really big. Also investing more in individual donors in a grass roots way instead of trying to find these mysterious, big donors that are out there,” Moore said.
The success of Young Playwrights’ Theater could be a play in itself, with all of its twists and turns. The group, which turns ordinary students into playwrights, hit financial turmoil a few years before the recession. After hiring a well-known heavy hitter in the nonprofit arts community, David Snider, as executive director, YPT turned around in one year. It went from a $170,000 budget deficit with no reserves to a surplus of $34,000 with reserves. That was just Act One. The group began changing its management practices. It turned staff meetings into roundtables where each member, from entry-level to senior management, generated ideas. One idea to come out of the process was for a fundraising contest in which the biggest donor had a play written about his or her life by one of the students. That and other ideas increased the organization’s donor base by 300 percent. The giving slowed, however, during the recession, forcing the group to begin dipping into its reserves. Last year, after Snider stepped down, the group anticipated a $70,000 budget deficit from projected funding cuts and expanded programming. It has avoided that under Moore, its new executive director. YPT released its first published book, earned income by contracting its summer camps and threw its first gala. Now the group is expecting a surplus of $40,000 and serves 15 percent more students than last year.
Type of work: Serves clients with mild intellectual disabilities, substance-use disorders and mental illness.
Number of staff: 55 full-time, 14 part-time.