Susan Mendenhall

Susan Mendenhall

The terms “triple-win” and “triple bottom line” are tossed around in nonprofit publications fairly regularly, especially when it comes to espousing the benefits of corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility.

At times, it can seem like forging triple-win partnerships are like cranking the philanthropic slot machine hoping for a three liner of cherries. A win for the nonprofit? Ding! A win for the corporate donor? Ding! A win for the community? Ding!

But authentic corporate-nonprofit partnerships that have real community impact are no simple gamble. They’re built on a foundation of mutual trust and respect, and a shared commitment to serving real people.

A great example of a successful triple-win partnership is the Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative. With support from the Lincoln Financial Foundation, Arts United has placed more than 70 paid interns at northeast Indiana’s largest nonprofit arts organizations since 2007. Arts organizations gain assistance and expertise from local college students while providing interns with beneficial career experience in arts administration and nonprofit management.

With an annual retention rate of between 40–65 percent, the Initiative has the added bonus of cultivating a creative workforce in northeast Indiana, a region that is striving to retain the talent pool demanded by 21st century businesses. Moreover, interns are placed at leading arts organizations who visibly contribute to elevating the vibrancy of northeast Indiana—a key factor for attracting and retaining talent.

Lindsay Sprunger was an intern at Fort Wayne Youtheatre in 2012 thanks to the Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative. Before graduating from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne with a degree in English, Lindsay took on Youtheatre’s publications, social media, and web maintenance with the goal of freshening the way that the 79-year-old organization communicates with the kids enrolled in theatre programs.

In addition, Lindsay gained experience in box office management by managing Youtheatre’s integration in a new shared community box office. After her internship, Lindsay accepted the Assistant Manager position with Arts United’s ArtsTix Community Box Office.

A win for arts organizations like Youtheatre and Arts United? Ding!

A win for area college students like Lindsay? Ding!

A win for the regional economy? Ding!

This is a triple-win partnership, indeed.

“Lincoln Financial Foundation contributes to moving the needle by partnering with organizations like Arts United that do the work,” explains Jean Vrabel, program officer for Fort Wayne and Omaha. “We recognize that the arts contribute to the economic stability of northeast Indiana, and the Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative is a true workforce development tool.”

The Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative is just one part of a long-standing partnership between Lincoln Financial Foundation and Arts United. The Lincoln Foundation announced in March 2013 that it plans to strengthen ties with Arts United through a multi-year grant of $280,000 over two years.

The grant provides general operating support and continued sponsorship of the Nonprofit Arts Internship Initiative. In addition to the grant, Lincoln employees will contribute more than $30,000 to Arts United this year during their annual workplace campaign.

Arts United will use support from Lincoln as a part of its collaborative model of arts administration that utilizes shared resources—Arts Campus facilities, united fundraising and grant administration, financial expertise and business services, and cultural planning—to serve about 70 arts and cultural nonprofits in 12 counties of northeast Indiana.

Arts United Executive Director Jim Sparrow says, “Lincoln’s long-standing support of Arts United reinforces the important role that arts and cultural organizations play in our region. Our well-resourced cultural core is a catalyst for a more dynamic, vibrant community.”

(This post is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

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2 Responses to “A Triple Win for Arts Orgs, College Students, & the Economy (from The pARTnership Movement)”

  1. [...] The terms “triple-win” and “triple bottom line” are tossed around in nonprofit publications fairly regularly, especially when it comes to espousing the benefits of corporate philanthropy and corpor…  [...]

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The pARTnership Movement


The pARTnership Movement is a new initiative from Americans for the Arts that provides businesses and arts organizations with the resources they need to make meaningful collaborations; partnerships that not only support a healthy, creative and artistic community, but that also give businesses a competitive advantage.
For more information please visit www.partnershipmovement.org.

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