The Portland Art Museum engaged CCS to provide a mid-campaign assessment, campaign management support, and additional capacity-building support. As a result, the $141M Connection Campaign has become the largest and most successful campaign in the Museum’s 129-year history.

Based in: Portland, OR, Western US, United States

Sector: Arts & Culture

Key Elements

  • 32 Cornerstone Donors ($1M+) from individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations provided $67 million of the funding so far.
  • The campaign included three donors of $5 million+ and eight donors of $2 million+.
  • This was the largest campaign for an arts organization in Oregon’s history.

The Portland Art Museum has partnered with CCS over the past three years to conduct a mid-campaign assessment, facilitate campaign-focused retreats with the Board of Trustees, and provide ongoing campaign and capacity-building support in support of the Museum’s Connection Campaign. The Connection Campaign will transform the accessibility of the museum campus by connecting the Museum’s two historic buildings via the Mark Rothko Pavilion, setting the stage for the rebirth of downtown Portland in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Campaign will also strengthen the Museum’s endowment, with an aim to permanently endow key priorities such as the Curator of Native American Art and the Curator of Prints and Drawings.

The challenge

The Portland Art Museum is the oldest art museum on the West Coast and a defining institution within the local cultural landscape, celebrating Oregon’s creative soul and serving 450,000+ visitors each year. As the largest art museum in the region, the Museum has a significant impact on the nonprofit arts and culture industry in the Greater Portland Area.

Prior to partnering with CCS, the Museum had been in the midst of efforts to raise funds for its capital and endowment needs since 2013. In 2019, the Portland Art Museum’s capital project underwent a public feedback phase that not only improved the design and resulted in unanimous approval by the Portland City Council but also increased the overall cost of the project by $25 million. The Museum brought CCS on to support what had become the largest campaign in its 129-year history.

the solution

In 2019, the Museum engaged CCS to provide a mid-campaign assessment, predictive modeling analysis, and a series of campaign-focused retreats for the Board of Trustees to support the evolution of the campaign and significantly increase fundraising efforts. In 2020, like all museums, the Museum was forced to close during the pandemic, and CCS continued to work with the PAM team to both achieve its annual fundraising targets and to keep the campaign strong in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, social justice reckoning, and social unrest in downtown Portland.

the impact

With support from CCS, the Museum has doubled the dollars raised for the Campaign by refocusing the case for support and engaging Board leadership in fundraising. The Museum has now raised more than $114 million for the Campaign, making it the most successful cultural campaign in Oregon’s history so far. To build towards an even stronger future, CCS also worked with the Museum’s Development Director, Karie Burch, to expand the capacity of the Development team to support both increased annual fundraising efforts and the completion of the Connection Campaign. In 2021, the Museum Development team achieved record annual fundraising levels.

Featured Team Member

Working with Brian, Karie, and the rest of the team at the Portland Art Museum has been an absolute honor. I couldn’t be more excited to visit the future Mark Rothko Pavilion.

Nicole Stratton, Senior Vice President, CCS Fundraising
A profile picture of Nicole Stratton.

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