30th Anniversary Endowment Campaign Consultant

Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The New School
New York, United States
Salary Not specified
Jul 14, 2021
Aug 12, 2021
Employment Type
Part Time

I. Introduction

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics (VLC) invites proposals from qualified fundraising consultants to partner with our staff and volunteer leadership as we lay the groundwork for a successful multi-year endowment campaign. The campaign will be launched on the occasion of our upcoming 30th anniversary (Fall 2022) and be informed by a strategic Long-Range Plan (LRP) that will be finalized in Spring 2022.

The VLC is a research center and platform for public scholarship on art, culture, and politics. It was established at The New School in 1992—a time of rousing debates about freedom of speech, identity politics, and society’s investment in the arts. An early leader with many distinctive contributions to the field, the VLC serves a critical mission: to foster a vibrant and diverse community of artists, scholars, and policymakers who take creative, intellectual, and political risks to bring about positive change.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.

The endowment campaign is one pillar of the more expansive LRP that will guide the VLC’s strategic activities and growth for the next five years. Both the LRP and the endowment campaign will capitalize on the momentum of the milestone 30th anniversary, and more importantly, the VLC’s vibrant programs, international networks, and distinctive impact, as well as significant developments at The New School under the university’s new leadership. A prior LRP covering the period Fall 2017-Spring 2022 was launched to coincide with the VLC’s 25th anniversary. That plan has been successful, with nearly every major objective completed, and the VLC’s program and fundraising have flourished as a result.

The entirety of the VLC’s 4.5 person staff as well as its 20-member board, including an LRP Steering Committee and an Endowment Campaign Task Force, will be meaningfully engaged and supportive of both the LRP and endowment campaign process.


II. Endowment Campaign Context and Purpose

The VLC was established almost 30 years ago with support from Vera G. List, the philanthropist and Life Trustee of The New School. During her lifetime, Mrs. List was generous in her financial patronage and she established a number of small endowments that provide a modest but vital base of program and operating support.

Thanks to strong staff and board leadership, the VLC has evolved steadily over the last decade, with particular growth in programmatic scope and impact as well as fundraising success in the last five years. During this time, the VLC has been increasingly recognized for its leadership and distinctive contributions to the field of politically engaged art practices. Donations from board members, other individuals, and foundations have increased substantially. Despite the hardships presented by the Covid-19 pandemic over the last year-and-a-half, the VLC is on strong financial footing and has capably adapted to online formats.

Notwithstanding this positive context, as a relatively lean organization with a budget of under $1 million, we rely heavily on major grants from a small number of key foundations to support our work. While it will always be important to vigorously pursue grants and gifts from individuals for year-to-year program and operating support, as well as to innovate and pilot new initiatives, we believe it is essential to grow the VLC’s endowment to ensure long-term financial stability.

The endowment campaign, therefore, will not replace our regular fundraising activities but will complement and amplify them. It will be driven by the VLC’s mission, vision, and values and our strategic priorities as set out by the LRP.


III. Overview of Organizational Programs and Activities

The VLC organizes all of its activities through the lens of two-year Focus Themes that create opportunities for shared learning with artists, scholars, activists, public intellectuals, students, and political and cultural leaders. Core nodes of work are:

  • ●  Fellowships supporting politically engaged artists, curators, scholars, and other culture workers;

  • ● Public programs and exhibitions intended to reach a broad audience;

  • ● Seminars and other educational programs, both for New School students and for members of the public;

  • ● Publishing activities intended to bring greater critical recognition to the field of politically engaged art; and last but not least, the

  • ● Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice that honors artists who take great risks to advance social justice in profound and visionary ways. Note: The prize already benefits from endowed support thanks to the generosity of our board member Jane Lombard.

  • IV. Overview of Services Solicited

    The endowment campaign consultant will help the VLC lay the groundwork for a successful multi-year endowment campaign. Proposals should demonstrate the applicant’s broad functional knowledge of fundraising and specialized expertise designing successful multi-year endowment campaigns. The consultant will work closely with VLC staff and board leadership (especially the Endowment Campaign Task Force), on the following activities:

  • ●  Design and execute a feasibility study to inform the setting of ambitious and achievable goals;

  • ●  Develop a written statement articulating the campaign rationale, goals, milestones, deliverables, and timeline that can serve as a roadmap for VLC staff and board members;

  • ●  Develop a compelling Campaign Case Statement that can be easily tailored to different audiences; and

  • ●  Help inform cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship strategies for select donors, including those already identified as well as helping to identify new prospects.


    Consistent with the VLC’s values and approach to work, the development of the endowment campaign will be an inclusive, collaborative, and iterative process. It will also be rigorous. The endowment campaign consultant will combine subject matter expertise with sophisticated interpersonal and leadership skills to guide the process, which will include:

  • ●  Becoming familiar with the VLC and, to some extent, The New School, including current financial position and recent fundraising activities;

  • ●  Being attuned to the ongoing LRP process and articulated strategic priorities;

  • ●  Consulting regularly with VLC staff;

  • ●  Consulting intermittently with members of the Endowment Campaign Task Force and other board members as needed;

  • ●  Establishing protocols for the development of the endowment campaign that are aligned with the VLC’s mission and values, in consultation with the staff and Endowment Campaign Task Force;

  • ●  Attending and presenting at 1 board meeting (either Fall 2021 or Spring 2022);

  • ●  Developing the written Campaign Case Statement and a campaign roadmap outlining the campaign’s rationale, goals, milestones, deliverables, and timeline; and

  • ●  Establishing a “top prospects” list of donors for the campaign, with preliminary solicitation strategy recommendations.

  • V. Desired Consultant Characteristics

  • ●  Alignment with the VLC’s values and mission and demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (see DEI Statement below);

  • ●  Impeccable integrity and discretion;

  • ●  Creativity and confidence to design visionary, unconventional pathways to success;

  • ●  Experience working with a range of innovative organizations, especially in the arts and culture, higher education, and social justice spaces;

  • ●  Broad functional knowledge of fundraising and experience aligning fundraising strategies with goals for organizational growth, as well as specific expertise designing and leading successful endowment campaigns;

  • ●  Strong knowledge of the current philanthropic landscape, especially in arts and culture,

    higher education, and social justice spaces, and in New York City; and

  • ●  A sense of humor, appreciation of diverse perspectives, and genuine enjoyment of the


  • VI. DEI Statement

    The principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are inherent to the work of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. As we strive to create new spaces for political and civic engagement that are generative, effective, and inspiring, we reach across boundaries to bring together ideas and experiences from a wide range of publics, especially those historically marginalized. Art, to us, holds the greatest promise for such spaces and encounters and inspires us to uphold the principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

    We approach DEI intersectionally and qualitatively. It informs all aspects of our work as well as all tiers of our organization: from programming and publications to speakers and independent contractors; from audiences and partner organizations to fellows and the staff and board.

    These values and our understanding of them have evolved since our founding and continually transforms what the Vera List Center stands for in the present. Art is the vector that allows us to respond to changing political contexts and to imagine more just and equitable futures.


    VII. Proposal Format

    Proposals should be submitted as Microsoft Word documents and should be no more than 6 pages single-spaced with standard margins and font sizes. Informed by a careful reading of this RFP, they should articulate the applicants’ background and qualifications with a focus on prior success leading similar projects, a proposed methodology and timeline for the campaign feasibility study, development of the “campaign roadmap”, and identification of “top prospects,” and a preliminary cost proposal, with a suggested total cost in the range of $8,000 - $12,000. Additionally, please submit a one-page cover letter articulating your interest in this project as well as a resume or CV. References will be requested later in the process.


    VIII. Process & Timeline

    Proposals are due by July 30, 2021. The VLC staff is available for 1 preparatory meeting leading up to proposal submission and on request will provide additional information and relevant documents. The proposals will be reviewed by the VLC staff and board members and selected applicants will be contacted for interviews. Additional materials may be requested from applicants during the interview process. References will also be requested. The consultant will be hired by August 31, 2021, and should be able to begin work immediately thereafter. The consultant will work with the VLC throughout the Fall 2021 semester and into the Spring 2022 semester. Final draft materials developed by the consultant will be presented for approval by the VLC board at the Spring 2022 retreat (to be scheduled, likely February/March 2022) for in- depth discussion and fine-tuning with the goal of approval at the Spring 2022 meeting (April 25, 2022), for a campaign launch in Fall 2022. It is expected that the endowment campaign consultant’s work will conclude in Spring 2022 and VLC staff and board will carry out the active phases of the campaign independently.

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