Doubled Monthly Giving Program & A Bright Future – The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Case Study 

Client: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts 

Industry: Performing Arts 

“So, we were able to take back the information that DonorSearch provided with the categories, and we sent out an email to a pretty large group of people. And we just kind of watched to see what happened and we saw that your data was correct. The initial email that we sent out paid for DonorSearch the first year. And because they are monthly donors, they are going to continue to pay that first, second, and third year. One email. So, that’s pretty spectacular.”

At A Glance

  • Challenges
    • Closed doors, loss of revenue, and staff layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic 
    • Small fundraising team that needed actionable insights quickly 
    • Need for a reliable revenue stream
  • Results
    • Doubled monthly giving program 
    • Tailor-made solutions that fit the organization’s budget and needs 
    • Access to industry-leading AI tools and bidirectional CRM integration

Client Overview 

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2012 with a mission to be a world-class performing arts center that inspires artists, audiences, and the Southern Nevada community through great performances, enriching experiences, and engaging educational programming. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Smith Center’s fundraising team had the responsibility of continuing to raise donations, the only source of revenue available for the Center at the time. Using DonorSearch, The Smith Center team was able to focus their fundraising energy on the donors who were willing and ready to give. Now The Smith Center is tapping into DonorSearch Ai, DonorSearch’s industry-leading machine learning solution, to grow its monthly giving and planned giving programs. 


As a performing arts center, The Smith Center was hit hard by COVID-19. 75 percent of the Center’s staff was laid off, and it was anticipated that the organization would lose $40 million due to rescheduling and canceling over 450 performances. Eventually, the Center was forced to close its doors for over 18 months. Its fundraising team had to find a way to continue to bring in revenue—that’s where DonorSearch came into play.  


“I was one of the people that was tasked with trying to continue to raise money,” said Carol Hollatz, Senior Director of the Annual Fund and Membership at The Smith Center. “We actually used DonorSearch quite a bit at that time, because as donors were making donations, we were able to screen them right then and there. So, using the DS1 and DS2 ratings, we were able to figure out who we should focus on, which was very helpful to us during that time.” Even better, as the pandemic gradually came to a close, The Smith Center retained those donors. 

Coming out of the pandemic, The Smith Center felt that it was time to build up a base of monthly donors, something they’d seen other nonprofits survive on during COVID-19. After meeting Bill Tedesco, founder and CEO of DonorSearch, at a conference and chatting with him about their needs and goals, they began using DonorSearch Ai.

“We provided 50,000 names to be screened and they were all given a sustainer score,” Hollatz said. These sustainer scores, which are provided by DonorSearch Ai, give a prediction on a scale of 0-100 to indicate who is most likely to give at least four gifts in the next twelve months. 

“I’ll be honest, in the beginning, we weren’t sure how accurate this data was going to be and we weren’t sure how trusting we were,” Hollatz said. “We were able to take back the information that DonorSearch provided…and we sent out an email to a pretty large group of people. Then we just kind of watched to see what happened and we saw that the data was correct.” That initial screening helped The Smith Center double its monthly giving program, setting the organization up with a revenue stream to rely on for years to come. 

Hollatz put it this way: “I think once everybody realized that each of those gifts was times 12, forever—that’s gold.” 

Looking forward, The Smith Center is now using DonorSearch to grow its planned giving program. “We’re really expecting to be able to do greater things moving forward with DonorSearch!” Hollatz said. 


  • Constant support. The Smith Center was able to turn to the DonorSearch team for constant support throughout the screening process. “The team that worked with us really kind of held our hand through the entire process,” Hollatz said. “So that was fantastic. You know, our…data analyst that we brought on was brand new. He didn’t know anything about fundraising or the software or DonorSearch…So, when he first started working with DonorSearch, they walked him through everything step by step.” 
  • Package designed for The Smith Center’s needs. When The Smith Center team met Bill Tedesco at a conference, he sat down with them to chat about their needs and goals. “He was able to put together a package with DonorSearch that would help meet our needs. We were not necessarily a super large organization with a staff of 70 fundraisers, but [DonorSearch made] it manageable so that we could actually utilize the services that were being provided,” Hollatz explained. 
  • Bidirectional API with Tessitura. The Smith Center uses the Tessitura CRM and leverages the DonorSearch integration to have all their donor insights flow between the two platforms and access them in one place. “It’s pretty spectacular because it just happens. You know, it’s a matter of clicking a few buttons and then that information automatically gets shifted into it and it just makes everyone’s job a lot easier. With a smaller staff, we’ve learned we have to work smarter, so that helps us do that!” Hollatz said. 

Looking for a cutting-edge tool to help you pull in more fundraising revenue? Schedule a demo of DonorSearch today!

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