Behind the Scenes: Development

This post is part of the Behind the Scenes series, an introduction to all the departments at Geva and how they help make our shows happen.

One of the great things about working at Geva is being in a building full of the kind of cool people you want to be friends with. For a perfect example, meet the Development department (“Devo” for short) – which is made up entirely of smart, talented and hardworking women who throw great parties.

Some would describe Development’s job as fundraising, but Development Manager Mary Ragus sees it differently: “we develop relationships between staff, artists, donors, trustees and patrons.” That’s where those party-throwing skills come in, as the Devo staff brings people together throughout the year for performances, receptions, meals, theatre tours and other events.

That’s not to say that Devo doesn’t raise money – they do, and they’re great at it! As a not-for-profit organization, Geva offers programs that income from ticket sales can’t cover, and it’s the Devo staff who makes them possible. Since 2010, when Development Director Bonnie Butkas joined the Geva staff, contributed income has increased by 61%.

The Development and Marketing staffs take a well deserved break from the office.
The Development and Marketing staffs take a well deserved break from the office.

Contributed income includes individual and corporate donations, as well as foundation and government grants, so the Devo ladies have plenty to keep them busy. Each year, they submit about 50 grant applications (which is why we call Institutional Giving Manager Mary Tiballi Hoffman the “grant-writing beast”), organize about 50 events (sometimes three in one evening) and, in between, send thank-you letters to donors, meet with patrons and trustees and pursue in-kind donations (like the snazzy Geva polo shirts that staff members have been sporting lately).

This week, Devo is hard at work on their biggest event of the year: Summer Curtain Call, the annual fundraiser for Geva’s education programs. The evening includes auctions, raffle prizes, food, drinks and a one-night-only performance by our cast of local VIPs. It’s all-hands-on-deck for the Geva staff, and especially the Development department, whose impressive divide-and-conquer strategy makes sure everything runs smoothly. Last year’s Curtain Call was a huge hit, so I’m excited to see what they’ve put together this year – but I’m doing my best to stay out of their way until the curtain comes down.SCC

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