Engagement activities for major gift prospects: Webinar with Lyric Opera of Chicago's Patrick Nugent

In this webinar, Jeff Nearhoof, GG+A Senior Vice President, talks to Patrick Nugent, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Vice President for Individual and Organizational Giving, on “Engagement Activities for Major Gift Prospects.”

The Lyric was weeks away from opening Wagner’s Götterdämmerung and three cycles of Wagner’s Ring when the COVID-19 health crisis forced it to cancel the production.

Patrick Nugent

Patrick Nugent

After notifying the press, ticket holders and donors of the cancellation, it sought to act on a key principle: To be as transparent as possible.

“The financial challenge was enormous,” he said, noting that the production was a decade in the making.

The situation drove the Lyric to develop a broad, integrated strategy that aimed to reduce its massive losses. Because it cancelled, rather than rescheduled, the production, it had to offer ticket refunds. However, the Lyric worked with its board’s development chair to create what it calls the “Heroes Fund,” which asked all the production’s sponsors to allow the institution to convert their sponsorships to operating funds to help the Lyric stem its losses. It then announced the “Heroes Fund” to all its ticket holders and donors as a challenge to inspire them to donate back the value of their tickets.

Since then, the Lyric has stayed close to donors, inquiring about their welfare, while also sharing the institution’s situation with “candid honesty.”

Patrick Nugent is Vice President for Individual and Organizational Giving at Lyric Opera of Chicago. He oversees major, planned, direct response, and institutional giving as well as development operations.

A graduate of Xavier University (Cincinnati) and the University of Chicago, he is a former college professor and has held development and chief executive positions in arts and culture, higher education, and social services and has worked in the U.S., Japan, and Kenya.

To hear more from Nugent about the Lyric’s approach to engaging major gift prospects during this moment, watch the webinar below:

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