Theatre of Charlotte Honored for Nonprofit Stewardship
– Children’s Theatre of
Charlotte received statewide honors today when the North Carolina Center for
Nonprofits selected it for one of three 2008 Nonprofit Sector Stewardship
Awards. The groups were recognized for their exemplary stewardship of the
resources entrusted to them. The Center announced the awards at the 2008
Statewide Conference for the Nonprofit Sector in Raleigh.
N.C. Center for Nonprofits helps nonprofit board and staff members to
lead and manage their organizations effectively, make the best possible use of
their resources, and collaborate with other groups to improve the quality of
life in North Carolina’s communities. Founded in 1990, the Center is a
coalition of 1,600 nonprofit organizations of all types and sizes in all 100
counties across the state.
Center created the Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Awards in 1995 to recognize
nonprofits that demonstrate the high standards of accountability, ethics, and
stewardship that the public expects of them as tax-exempt organizations. The
Center’s statewide Board of Directors serves as the selection committee. The
2008 Awards are sponsored by Prudential Financial, Inc.
Founded in 1948, Children’s
Theatre of Charlotte (CTC) is a professional theatre company that serves more
than 321,000 young people and families each year. Its artistic team selects
scripts, hires directors and actors, creates its own sets and costumes, and
designs sound and lights for each performance. It works closely with
Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Schools to bring professional theatre and arts
education to students at every grade level.
Bruce LaRowe, executive director; Stephen Sorenson, chair-elect of the board; and Linda Reynolds, director of development, accepted the award for CTC.
Presenting the awards for the N.C. Center for Nonprofits
were Jane Kendall, president; Doris
Stith, vice chair of the Board of Directors; and Trisha Lester, vice president.
"We are honoring Children’s Theatre of Charlotte for
careful stewardship of all its financial, human, and natural resources in
retooling its 60-year-old nonprofit to reach out to new audiences. It ensures
that board members are active and accountable and that employees are
supported,” Kendall said. “A commitment to being nimble and accountable in
changing times is a hallmark of North Carolina’s nonprofit sector.”
CTC formed a government-nonprofit
partnership with the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County to
build a new facility called ImaginOn in
downtown Charlotte. Opened in 2005, ImaginOn houses a new youth library,
Children’s Theatre, and an educational center all in one place. This joint
venture won one of five national awards from Partners for Livable Communities as
a stellar example of community collaboration. CTC made sure that the cooperative
agreement maintained CTC’s autonomy as a private, nonprofit organization
because it is this independence that allows nonprofits to be agile and respond
to changing community needs.
To prepare for this major
expansion, CTC undertook a rigorous internal transformation that reflected
responsible stewardship of both human and environmental resources, as well as
dollars. “CTC’s Board of Directors and staff used principles of good
practice for the governance and management of nonprofits as they reinvented
their organization,” said Kendall.
overhauled its board selection process to ensure that board members are so
passionate about the Theatre’s mission that they agree to make their service
to CTC their highest volunteer priority. Board members also must have
relationships in the community that they are willing to tap on CTC’s behalf.
The Development Committee of the board was eliminated, recognizing that all
board members are accountable for helping to build relationships, engage new
audiences, and bring new funding opportunities to the Theatre.
Each new and returning board member
now has an annual contract that allows them to determine within specific
priority areas how they can best serve, engage, and be held responsible. Stephen
Sorenson, chair-elect of the board, said, “I’ve never worked with a
nonprofit that has made such good use of my time as a board member.”
During the transition to ImaginOn,
CTC kept its loyal volunteer corps called ENCORE! involved by holding regular
tours and information sessions. Quarterly gatherings gave all staff a chance to
share their ideas, as well as their fears and questions about the pending move.
Tammy Stringer, chair of the board,
said, “Our staff are a huge asset. We want them to keep learning through
conferences and workshops. Our long-range plan focuses on retaining and
supporting our staff.” The board gave Bruce LaRowe, CTC’s long-time
executive director, a sabbatical to renew his energy for continuing his work
there. He used it to ride a bicycle from Seattle to Maine.
CTC and the Public Library also
made a commitment to careful stewardship of natural resources. ImaginOn is the
first public building in Charlotte to “go green.” It features
environmentally-conscious design and uses recycled materials throughout the
building, such as floors made from recycled tires.
Finally, CTC demonstrates good
financial management with 27 years of operating “in the black.” It examined
how likely it is that various short- and long-term risks would actually occur
and how severely each one would hurt the organization’s operations. Now it is
crafting plans to avoid or mitigate these risks. The N.C. Center for Nonprofits provides extensive resources to help nonprofits
assess and control risks.
The other organizations selected for the
2008 awards are Action for Children North Carolina based in Raleigh and Helping
Hands Clinic, Inc. of Lenoir. Winners receive recognition among nonprofit
leaders across the state and among their own elected officials, $500 to invest
in professional development for their board and staff, and a work of art by
Durham artist Galia Goodman to commemorate this statewide honor.
The N.C. Center for
Nonprofits serves as a statewide network for nonprofit board and staff members,
an information center on effective nonprofit organizational practices, and an
advocate for the nonprofit sector as a whole. The Center can be reached at
919-790-1555 or www.ncnonprofits.org.