Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Want Money? Build Trust

In his article on the Philadelphia Orchestra's plans to re-invent itself in the face of a "structural deficit," Peter Dobrin quotes Executive Director Allison Vulgamore: "We're going to have to earn more money, going to need to attract donors back ... who have been waiting and wondering, and, frankly, we're going to have to measure the cost structure a little bit."

So, I'm not quite sure what a "cost structure" is, but I do know that if the Philadelphia Orchestra is going to want people to give money, they'll need to be honest about not just how much they're spending, but what they're spending it on.

That's what's so galling--and counterproductive--about the orchestra's unwillingness to discuss the value of Yannick Nezet-Seguin's contract. It could have been a great opportunity to educate the public on the value of a music directors to the overall quality of the institution that donors are giving money to. Instead, they politely "decline" to discuss it, even as their board chair mentions bankruptcy.

If you want people to give you money--more importantly, if you want them to really believe in you--you've got to be straight with them.