SUCCESS STORY: The Chamber, Lawrence, KS

Ensuring Funders Support Your Strategic Plan

Group 15

The Situation

After facing setbacks from the pandemic, economic development leaders launched a fundraising campaign, Rising Together, to build a better future for Lawrence, Kansas, and thThe Chamber of Lawrence, KS logoe greater Douglas County community.

A comprehensive feasibility study provided a roadmap to success leading up to the Rising Together campaign. Campaign support during the early stages helped secure more than 86 percent of their fundraising goal before the campaign went public. 

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Funding Goals

• Raise $2.5 million over five years

• Develop a community-backed plan for growth

 

Rising Together campaign logo
Group 17

The Challenges

  • This campaign was introduced just as the community was beginning to lift COVID-19 restrictions. While stakeholders were eager to invest, they needed a rock-solid strategic plan to confidently move forward.
  • The feasibility study revealed gaps in the strategic plan that failed to address concerns for the community’s housing and land development.
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The Convergent Approach

Convergent began with a feasibility study. We evaluated the Rising Together campaign’s goals, which included talent attraction, diversity in workforce, and inclusive economic development initiatives. 

We found that the economic development team had earned Asking Rights™—having the credibility, fundraising skills, and outcomes to support a successful capital campaign. However, our feasibility study also revealed gaps in the strategic plan that could hinder the campaign’s success. Being that the community was only just beginning to loosen its COVID-19 restrictions, stakeholders were eager to invest in bold growth and recovery opportunities—though they were hesitant to move forward without clear investable outcomes. 

While Rising Together supported growth for local businesses and the economy, it did not address the community housing challenges. Without the capacity to grow the community, there would not be sustainable support for local businesses. 

Convergent helped Rising Together broaden its focus to include efforts for new housing land, housing units, and single-family home permits. By listening to the community and addressing their concerns, we bolstered support for Rising Together and instilled confidence in investors.

 

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The Results

 Total campaign commitments of $2.8 million, exceeding the campaign goal by 10 percent. 

• Thirty-three new investors resulting in $521,000 in new investments.

• Fully funded Talent Attraction and Workforce Development initiatives with a focus on BIPOC and the low-income community, along with a specific initiative addressing Douglas County’s Housing and Land Development shortage.

Total campaign commitments of $2.8 million— more than 10% above goal.

I would recommend Convergent for a few reasons. First of all, they listened. They listen to the leadership. They listened to our potential investors for economic development, and they came forward with a plan. The conversations were very productive, which was refreshing.

Bonnie Lowe

CEO, The Chamber

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