Funding Seattle's Art Museum and Low Income Housing
This case can be used to help students learn about the politics of tax initiatives as a tool for funding important community projects. It describes the campaign issues, the political alliances, and decisions that allowed a group of low income housing advocates and service providers (which had little money, but plenty of political clout and numbers) and the art museum (with the financial backing of big money business and commercial development interests, and some danger of being defeated by the housing forces) to campaign together for "A Better Seattle." Students are generally intrigued by the alliance and see parallels for their own work.
It is a behind-the-scenes look at organizing a successful campaign to pass a tax levy — and how to determine if the time is right. The A case poses the major strategic question of whether the housing and museum supporters can succeed — without each other or with each other. The B case looks at actions taken and decisions made during the course of a successful campaign. Background is also provided on some of the key precinct and poll considerations, and on election and majority requirements that are so important to bond strategy. This case offers useful ideas for leaders of nonprofit organizations of all types, as well as public agency managers looking for ways to develop capital financing for important projects.