Strategic Plan: Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies

The Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the image of the United States abroad through the installation of permanent works of American art in embassies around the world. By partnering with American artists, FAPE gifts encourage cross-cultural understanding within the diplomatic community and the international public. Founded as a public-private, non-partisan partnership in 1986, FAPE works with the U.S. Department of State to contribute fine art to U.S. embassies. As of 2010, FAPE’s legacy includes more than $56 million in donations of funds and 186 artworks in 140 countries.

Sol LeWitt’s  Wall Drawing #1256: Five Pointed Stars  permanently   installed at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin by the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies

Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #1256: Five Pointed Stars permanently installed at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin by the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies

The Challenge
In 2007, as FAPE neared its 25th anniversary, the Board of Directors and executive staff recognized that it needed to enhance its Board capacity, strengthen its program development capabilities, and raise its public profile in order to meet the organization’s expanded scope of work. FAPE had committed to several major site’s specific embassy installations in Beijing, Berlin, Athens, Jamaica, India, Guangzhou and New York, and the estimated $8 to $10 million budget for these projects was the largest fundraising goal ever set by the organization. FAPE’s Board and staff agreed that in order to meet these goals, it was critical to design and implement the organization’s first comprehensive strategic plan; one that would integrate both development efforts and programming goals. In addition, FAPE sought guidance to structure and position new programming initiatives, specifically the potential launch of an international awards program.


FAPE’s Board retained The Kavelman Group (TKG) to develop a phased three-year strategic plan including phased action steps to build toward the organization’s 25th anniversary. This plan, the first of its kind for the organization, included strategies and actions for:

1. Board and Governance;
2. Fine Arts Programs;
3. A New Awards Program;
4. Development; and
5. Operations.

Based on interviews with Board members and staff, environmental scans, and extensive hands-on work with the organization’s executive and strategic planning committees and other FAPE leadership, TKG proposed a number of strategic recommendations to the Board. These recommendations included a newly designed Board organizational structure with identified leadership and actionable agendas; a uniquely tailored fundraising plan; and a framework for the development of the new awards program that outlined the nomination process, the structure and recruitment of a high profile jury, and all aspects of the awards ceremony. TKG advised FAPE about how to position the awards and its other programs to attract press and media coverage, and recommended that a professional communications team be retained to help further this goal.

In addition to providing strategic recommendations, TKG helped FAPE organize its first successful FAPE Board retreat. Over two days, Board members developed a vision statement; updated the organization’s mission statement; and approved key elements of the preliminary strategic plan.

FAPE’s Board adopted the new strategic plan and saw remarkable results even as it was being developed. The 2008 Year End annual appeal generated 34% more contributed income than the previous year, despite the economic recession, and FAPE’s 2008 and 2009 annual gala held at the State Department, generated all-time revenue records. With Board recruitment guidelines in place for the first time since its founding, within a few months FAPE secured several new Board members including major cultural patrons, former ambassadors, and corporate and financial leaders, who were able to contribute in major ways to the organization’s growth.

A capstone to the strategic planning process was the inaugural Leonore and Walter Annenberg Award ceremony for Diplomacy through the Arts presented by FAPE at the State Department in 2009, in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored Justice Stephen G. Breyer for his exceptional work in promoting the American artistic legacy in Federal buildings. The following year Mayor Michael Bloomberg accepted the award, designed by American Artist Ellsworth Kelly. The Awards and a new communications campaign outlined in the strategic plan yielded the most widespread press FAPE has ever received with coverage in the diplomatic, arts and general press. At the dinner honoring Mayor Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton was quoted by the U.S. News and World Report as proclaiming:

Artwork helps reveal the American spirit and story without taking a political stand.”
To donors and artists who make up FAPE she said, “you’re just brightening up the day of some of our people around the world.”