What do you do when you launch a capital campaign in the midst of an economic recession, when you face stiff “competition” for fundraising dollars from a series of high profile nonprofits in your area, and when your longtime executive director leaves at the outset of the campaign? These were the challenges facing the Inter-Faith Council for Social Services as we began our work with them.
The capital campaign far exceeded its initial funding goal of $3.7 million. Operational income remained steady during the capital campaign. Construction for the Community House was able to begin on schedule.
The Inter-Faith Council for Social Service (IFC) is the principal agency in Orange County, N.C., for mobilizing the community to address homelessness, hunger, and economic disparity. One of the main focuses for IFC is operating the Community House, the county’s only 24-hour residential facility for homeless men. Established in 1985, The Community House is now outdated and undersized, and according to IFC Executive Director John Dorward, is not in an ideal location. “Being located in downtown Chapel Hill certainly has its drawbacks,” said John. “For all intents and purposes, this is a vibrant college town with lots of activity, noise, bars and other distractions…it’s a wonderful place, but certainly not the ideal environment for many of our residents looking to focus on improving their lives.”
Building a new 16,500 square foot facility with 52 beds; raising $3.7 million, to include paying off $700,000 of existing debt; and reaching the goal without negatively affecting operational funding.
• In a relatively small metropolis, three other prominent institutions were launching capital campaigns… a YMCA, a church, and a children’s museum.
• While homelessness is recognized as a serious issue that needs to be addressed, it has not traditionally been a “popular” cause for many donors/investors.
• At the outset of the campaign, IFC’s long-time executive director retired…someone who had significant ties to the local business, government, and faith-based communities.
At the outset of any campaign, Convergent works hard to identify the most likely supporters of a project. Not surprisingly, this is often the business community. As our team took a look at IFC’s community “assets,” we determined that, in this instance, the faith-based community, along with statewide institutions, would be the strongest supporters of a project like this.
However, focusing on these types of investors did not mean that we reverted to an “old-school” mentality of using an emotional appeal. Faith-based organizations and other foundations, just like businesses, take the decision to invest seriously and react far better when they understand the true and full impact their investment will have in a community. Therefore, we did not stray from our ROI approach to fundraising, and the results speak for themselves.
• The capital campaign exceeded its initial funding goal of $3.7 million.
• Furthermore, operational income remained steady during the capital campaign.
• Construction for the Community House was able to begin on schedule.
We looked at four different companies to help us meet our goals and were most comfortable with Convergent’s ROI approach and their ability to handle all elements of the campaign from start-to-finish. Having a Convergent consultant on-site made a significant difference, as he truly became part of our team and kept us focused on our goals.”
Past Executive Director, Inter-Faith Council for Social Services