Since May’s awkward goodbye to Arch Grants’ former executive director Sarah Spear, the role has stood empty. As national attention continued to pour in for Arch Grants in the latter half of 2013, the board faced growing pressure to add a face to its fundraising efforts.
Cue Ginger Imster. Imster assumed duties as executive director on December 1. In two short months, she has already received a great deal of praise for her loud approach to the 2014 fiscal year. Imster comes into reign faced with the challenge to restore the administrative structure that consequently ‘lagged’ in the eight month vacancy. Unlike her predecessor who led as a peer entrepreneur, Imster brings a much more extensive background in nonprofit fundraising. As the value of a peer entrepreneur at Arch Grants remains evident, Ben Burke brings balance with his entrepreneurial experience to the role of director of operations.
Imster spent the last 12 years as director of development for City Academy, where she managed all fundraising activities and helped grow annual giving from $463,000 in 2001 to more than $1 million in 2008. City Academy is a private, independent elementary school in St. Louis.
Arch Grants operates in a space called “impact investing,” or venture philanthropy. Arch Grants’ initiative is rooted in civic progress, job creation and increasing population density in St. Louis’ urban core. This type of philanthropy is very activist and allows the organization to engage many different types of philanthropists, especially those interested in making gifts that can be leveraged to help execute the bigger urban development motivations of Arch Grants. For philanthropists that are very excited about entrepreneurial space but would like the opportunity to leverage to improve community as a whole, Arch Grants is a natural partner.
So what will Imster’s first few months look like? When an office has endured the kind of transition that Arch Grants has, infrastructure issues are to be expected. Imster’s main focus right now is pushing through the 2013 audit and managing practical business, including moving into the Lammert Building. Additionally, Imster comments, “We have not been an organization that has been transparent to the broader community.” Arch Grants has not previously published an annual report and this is one of Imster’s main priorities. One of Arch Grants’ primary obligations is to address how investments are leveraged, she says. She plans to produce such report no later than April and expressed a great deal of excitement about the coming months and showing St. Louis that Arch Grants can do a great service to the celebration of entrepreneurs.
“There are a lot of moving parts to manage, but it’s great to look forward and see them coming to a crescendo,” says Imster.