The Joffrey Ballet

Case Solution

Mary Ittelson, Amir Goldberg, Kara Riopelle
Stanford Graduate School of Business ()

The Joffrey Ballet is a landmark Chicago nonprofit performing arts organization that helped shape the landscape of American ballet. In 2016, the Joffrey was at a point of transformation after a period of financial crisis and artistic decline. It had successfully raised $4 million for the widely anticipated new production of the Nutcracker. With annual revenues at around $20 million, this production represented a significant investment, and the organization needed to continue its artistic momentum while maintaining fiscal responsibility. The leadership team decided to launch an $80 to $120 allfunds campaign to ensure the artistic and financial health of the organization. Known for its diversity, Joffrey Ballet has a history of balancing highly athletic performances of canonical works with unlimited new ballets. Founded in New York City in 1954, it has carved a niche for itself as a distinctly American ensemble in the ecosystem of ballet known for its classical European influences. After moving to Chicago in 1995, the ballet relied on its New York reputation in the face of financial and artistic difficulties. By 2016, however, the Joffrey Ballet was about to once again become a major player on the national and international dance scene. It had just celebrated its 60th and 20th anniversary in Chicago, and the executive team was discussing key areas for future investments. The foundation’s equity, which as of June 30, 2016 was around 1.4 million US dollars, had to be increased. The profitable academy needed more space and resources to grow, while community engagement programs had the potential to have an impact on the community. The scheduling of large-format works by leading choreographers was important but expensive. To attract donors and secure Joffrey’s future, the organization needed to create a compelling fundraising case backed by a solid business plan.

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