Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Environmental and Public Affairs
First Committee Member
Number of Pages
Friends of the Rainbow Company (Friends) is a nonprofit organization that supports the mission of The Rainbow Company Youth Theatre (Rainbow Company) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Established in 1978, it supports the Rainbow Company through non-traditional financial streams and hands-on support. The Rainbow Company receives primary financial support from the City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs. Being the City’s only youth theatre education program of its kind, it has received local governmental funding since 1976. The City support is mainly for salaried employees and facilities.
Friends and the Rainbow Company are very closely linked in several ways. First, Friends raises funds to purchase equipment, supplies and other necessary items that the City is unable to provide or fund. Second, Friends membership is primarily Rainbow Company graduates and parents of children enrolled in Rainbow Company. Third, Friends Executive Board (officers) is voluntary and has been traditionally made up of parents of current Rainbow Company students.
Current Rainbow Company staff requested an evaluation of Friends from the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Environmental and Public Affairs during the spring 2013 semester. The HCE Project Team (HCE), consisting of Holly Balmer, Christin Downing and Eric Garner had its initial meeting with two of the three full-time Rainbow Company employees and the current Friends Board president to discuss their concerns and challenges. This information was used to develop a Scope of Work which defined the purpose of the evaluation and outlined the steps needed to address the evaluation questions.
The purpose of this project was to assist Friends in evaluating the activities and effectiveness of its Board in meeting its goals and mission in supporting the Rainbow Company. HCE set out to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the Friends’ Board including structure, management, effectiveness, direction and linkages to the Rainbow Company. Friends identified the following research questions:
1. How are similar nonprofit organization boards structured?
2. Do these boards face the same issues, such as board effectiveness, leadership,
cohesiveness, etc.? If so, how have they overcome them?
3. How can the Board increase parental support with:
a. Meeting attendance
b. Commitment to and respect for the Rainbow Company’s core values
c. Support staff rules and decisions
d. Support and assistance to students in networking
In order to address these questions, an evaluation was designed that included quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods to collect and analyze data. A benchmark study was conducted along with an analysis of similar nonprofit organizations to look at board structure and leadership, challenges faced and parental support. In addition, HCE administered two surveys, conducted numerous stakeholder interviews of present and past Board members, as well as officers. An extensive document review of the original nonprofit charter, bylaws and other Board documents was also performed.
Major findings revealed that Friends does not have a vision statement or organizational chart. In addition, there is a need to update their mission statement and bylaws as the organization is at a crossroads and has evolved over the last 35 years. The organization does not incorporate any strategic planning or long-term planning with identified goals. Because this is a volunteer Board, typically their elected officers do not have experience in leading and/or serving on a nonprofit board. Through extensive document review and interviews, it was found that the organization lacks basic organizational policies and procedures. In addition, the benchmark study revealed that similar nonprofit organizations include community members on their executive boards. Parental support has also been a struggle for many years according to interviews, and the organization has tried various ways to increase parental participation.
HCE has identified various recommendations which Friends can implement immediately for little or no cost. Recommendations cover the areas of board structure, board effectiveness, parental communication and marketing and fundraising. To mention briefly, some specific recommendations include diversifying Friends executive board, changing the terms of office, incorporating transparency and internal controls into the bylaws, engaging in strategic planning, and partnering with UNLV to provide training in nonprofit management and leadership in order to equip the officers with the necessary skill sets to lead and guide the organization. Increasing parental support can be accomplished by incorporating a strategic communications plan through newsletters, emails, etc. Recruiting community members to sit on the Board is another recommendation that would enhance the diversity, networking and partnership abilities of the Board. These and additional recommendations are explained in further detail in the following pages.
Education in the theater; Evaluation research (Social action programs); Friends; Fund raising; HCE; Mission statements; Mixed methods research; Nevada--Las Vegas; Nonprofit organizations; Program evaluation; PUA 791; Qualitative research; Quantitative research; Rainbow Company; Theater; University of Nevada; Las Vegas; Voluntarism
Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Public Administration | Public Affairs | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration
Balmer, Holly; Downing, Christian; and Garner, Eric, "Friends of Rainbow Company Program Evaluation" (2013). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 2050.