Framework for the Proposed FMW Campaign

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Presented by Henry Freeman

March 28, 2010

In October, 2009 I was asked by the FMW Trustees to undertake a process for determining the readiness of FMW for a capital campaign designed to secure the funds needed to finance proposed renovations of the Meetinghouse.  Having completed a comprehensive feasibility study three years earlier, I agreed to do a follow up assessment centered around follow up interviews by phone with those who had participated in the earlier study and an additional list of 10-15 people to be contacted.  A list of those contacted and interviewed in a recent three-week period is attached.
Unlike the earlier 60-page Feasibility Study Report presented to the FMW Trustees in February, 2007, the primary purpose of this follow up assessment was to prepare me to make a clear and concise recommendation to the planning committee and the wider FMW community as to the viability of FMW being successful if a campaign is undertaken.   In this context, the report is limited to a brief overview of my
assessment of key issues related to the project and proposed campaign and my recommendations for moving forward.
Proposed Plans:
Support for the Project:  Based on interviews with 50 members and attenders at FMW during the first two weeks of March (and a comprehensive feasibility study conducted three years ago), there is very strong support for the renovation project as presented.   Specifically, there is very little in the way of opposition to a capital campaign and widely-held agreement that “something must be done”.
In sum, there is deep concern about a) the need of the Meeting to address the structural issues (upkeep of the physical plant, drainage problem, etc.) that have been a major challenge of the Meeting for decades and  b) the need to address the issue of accessibility—a concern that, for many people, “speaks to the heart” of the Meeting’s ability to be an open and welcoming community for all those who want to come through its doors.  Finally, there is a deeply held belief that meeting the above needs in the context of being good stewards of the environment reflects both good stewardship of resources and undertaking the project in a manner that is right ordered and reflects the values of individual Friends and the FMW community. 
Current status of the Project:  There is a strong desire to get this thing done.  People, quite frankly, are tired of the process.  It is time to either move forward or not.  This sentiment was heard repeatedly. 
Cost of the Project:  While a minority believe that the main objectives of the proposed plans could be simplified and undertaken at lower cost (a “lift” elevator within the current space at much lower cost, for example), there is general agreement that the planning committee has done its work and been diligent in its efforts. 
Financing the Project: Fundraising
Funding from Members of the Meeting:  Leadership Gifts:  The vast majority of people “simply have no idea” as to the financial and gift capability of FMW members and attenders.   When specific names are mentioned as people capable of gifts over $100,000 the list is generally small and, often, the same names are mentioned.  Only one person provided a “long list” of what they believe to be potential large donors in the top gift levels on the Donor Pyramid ($100,000--$500,000).  While some people expressed the belief that “there are people within the Meeting who could give that kind of money”, a more common sentiment is that “we are not a Meeting with a lot of wealthy people”.   Reference was also often given to the “struggle” of the Meeting to reach its annual operating budget.
Personal Financial Support (over 3 years):  Many people were willing to give a general idea as to the level of financial investment they anticipated making if a campaign moves forward.  The responses ranged from zero (one person who felt they would not support the project) to 3-4 at or near the $50,000 level and one in the $50,000-$100,000.  With few exceptions, those interviewed expressed a willingness to “stretch their giving” because they believe in the project.  For most of those interviewed, it was clear that their support for the project was well beyond what they would generally think of when asked to support the Meeting’s annual operating budget.
Paraphrasing comments by several people:
This is not about a building and it is not about money.  It is about what it means to be a welcoming community and it is about our responsibility to be good stewards.”
Perception Regarding a “stretch but realistic” Campaign Goal:  While most people “had no idea”, people’s perception of what the Meeting is “capable of raising” in the proposed campaign varied widely within a range of $250,000 (one person) to $4.0 million (also one person).  Generally speaking, the numbers tended to “cluster” around the $1.0 and $2.0 million levels with a much smaller number of people believing that more than $2.0 million is possible.
Generally speaking one of the main issues influencing thoughts about a capital campaign is the perception that “people don’t give now to the operating budget”.  For some this is perceived to be a reflection of people’s either “not supporting the Meeting” or “not having the money”.  For others, it is a reflection of what is perceived to be a long history (dating back for decades) within the Meeting of viewing fundraising as “asking for money” and “pleading” rather than about vision and empowerment of the Meeting as a faith community.  While difficult to quantify, these two views of “fundraising” had a major influence on what people feel is a “realistic” campaign goal.
“Completing the Bridge”:  Options for Financing
Because very few people expressed the belief that the Meeting will be able to fund the entire project through a capital campaign, the interview often turned to questions about “what to do if all the money cannot be raised”.  When addressing this issue, the discussion often turned to what I describe as the “bridge metaphor”—the idea being that if you have the funds for “half-a-bridge” you can either “move the sides of the river closer together” (i.e. reduce the cost of the project by “doing less”) or “complete the bridge” through other sources of funding. 
The list of options most often cited for “completing the bridge” include the following:
  • Cut back—reduce the size/scope of the project to within the boundaries of “what can be raised”.
  • Loans—“build the bridge” through a combination of fundraising and long-term financing.
  • Sell Property—build the rest of the bridge through the sale of Quaker House and/or Carriage House.
  • Property Rental and Lease—partially build the bridge through rental income from Quaker House and Carriage House.
  • “Sweat Equity” (Member’s “do part of the work”)—a potential cost reduction effort that would also engage FMW members and build community.
  • Fundraising/Grants from outside sources—pursue local foundation and historic preservation grants.
  • Sell all the property and move to another location—not a widely held view but one that was presented.
The 3 Primary “Bridge” Options:
While many options were presented, three main options were lifted up most often as the “core” vehicle for “filling the gap between” funds raised via a campaign and the cost of the project.
  1. Scale back the project.  While a few Friends recommended scaling back the project to only the level that could be funded by  a capital campaign, most Friends who supported “scaling back” did so from the perspective that some “modest scaling back” may be possible.  This view—more so than “just doing what we can fund through a campaign”—was supported by many people.
  2. Sell Quaker House.  While a number of Friends are open to the idea of selling property (and some view this as a very good option), there is a widely held belief that there would be considerable opposition within the Meeting.  Those opposed to selling property fell into three camps:  1) those who have strong feelings about Quaker House and its potential role as an outreach/ministry of the Meeting to the DC community; 2) those who believe selling the property would be a “short-term solution” and are generally not in favor of selling property; and 3) those who feel the market would not be right for selling property at this time.
  3. Loan/Long-term financing.  While there are certainly some people who are “strongly against” the Meeting’s partially covering the cost of the project through long-term financing, there was generally wide spread acceptance of this concept as an option to be considered.  The main “stumbling block” for most people rested in one of two areas:  
    1. The perception that “We already have trouble meeting our operating budget.  How could we handle a mortgage?”
    2. “Borrowing money” simply passes on a burden to the next generation.” 
It is my recommendation that FMW move forward with a major fundraising campaign designed to raise one-half of the funds needed for completion of project—or, specifically, a campaign goal of $2.0 million for the project with a projected total cost of approximately $3.8 million.
A successful $2.0 million FMW campaign will not be an easy undertaking and will require serious financial investments and the enthusiastic support of both members and attenders from throughout the FMW community.  It will, quite frankly, require sacrificial financial investments—and not merely gifts—in order to be successful.  It will also require that the campaign uncover from within the FMW community several large leadership gifts of $100,000 or more based on the attached donor pyramid.
I am confident that, with a lot of hard work and widespread support from within the FMW community, the proposed campaign can be successful—the money is “there” if people choose to give it.  And a carefully developed campaign will “surface” such gifts based on my 30 years of campaign experience and work with many different Friends organizations.
There are, however, a series of determining factors which must be met if the proposed campaign is to be successful. 
A commitment by the Meeting to a “Bridge” model of Funding.  A key factor in the proposed campaign is that the Meeting reach unity on a clearly defined “bridge” for addressing the discrepancy between total dollars raised and the cost of the project.  Without a clear commitment to a plan for funding one-half the project from other sources, FMW should not move forward with the proposed campaign.
I recommend the following combination of sources for 50% of the project funding:
  • Long-term financing
  • Debt-servicing (Quaker House Rentals)
  • Sweat Equity:  for cost-reduction and (more importantly) as a community-building process and vehicle for engaging the entire Meeting community
  • Cost reduction where realistic and possible
Note:  Approval of the above model is needed prior to the launch of the campaign.   I recommend an approval date by the Meeting no later than the September, 2010 Meeting for Business.  Putting a decision off—or a longer decision-making process—will seriously undermine the ability of the Meeting to eventually move forward.
Campaign Leadership:  Successful campaigns require a serious time commitment of a small core of very committed people who: a) understand the campaign process; b) understand good fundraising practices; and c) are committed to the success of the campaign.  Without this leadership in place—and the endorsement of this concept and approach to fundraising by the Meeting—the campaign will not succeed.
One of the main criteria for recommending the proposed campaign is that I believe that a small “core” is available to lead the campaign from within the FMW community.  This “core” leadership consists of Grant Thompson, Robinne Gray, and Byron Sandford—all three people very committed to this project and all three people with campaign experience.  Equally important, all three—with Grant Thompson serving as Clerk—have agreed to take on key leadership roles in this effort and serve as the “core” group around which, as the campaign process moves forward, an ever wider circle of members and attenders within the Meeting become engaged.   (Note:  It is critical to recognize and embrace the concept that successful campaigns build from a small “core” and “move outward” to engage an ever-wider circle of people within the FMW community—with, as a result of the process, the entire FMW community becoming very much engaged in the process.  Simply “developing another committee to do the work” is a recipe for failure.)
Campaign Time Period:  I propose a two-year campaign beginning at the time of approval of the bridge funding model and the proposed campaign. (No later than the September, 2010 Business Meeting.)
Timeline details:  A general timeframe for the campaign includes the following key items:
By September, 2010:
  • Decision to move forward and approval of bridge funding plan.
April—December, 2010:
  • Work of the “core group” on initial campaign planning; selected leadership gift asks; and planning for expanding the circle of those actively engaged in the campaign process.
January—December, 2011:
  • Widening the circle and engagement of Friends in the campaign process and community-building aspects of the campaign.
January—December, 2012
  • Construction begins (Spring, 2012)
  • Sweat Equity/Work Projects; final stage of the campaign.
Projected Campaign Costs:  $100,000-$120,000 (5-6% of campaign goal)
Closing Comments:
The recommendation that FMW move forward with the campaign as proposed—and within the guidelines and criteria presented above—is grounded in several aspects of my experience with the campaign planning process:
  • First it is grounded in more than 30 years of experience in major gift and capital campaign fundraising for organizations ranging from small non-profits with no fundraising history to The University of Michigan which now employs several hundred people on its fundraising staff. 
  • Second, this recommendation is grounded in my experience over the past 30 years both personally as a Friend and professionally as a consultant who has worked with more than 35 different Quaker organizations.
Perhaps of equal importance is a third factor:  my understanding of the powerful and essential role that a well-planned and successful campaign can and does play in strengthening and empowering a community of people seeking to address a significant challenge and embrace a new vision for its future. 
To the point, empowerment of the FMW community is, at its core, what a capital campaign is all about.  It is not about the renovation of a building and it is not about raising money.  Indeed, if one or two members of the meeting—or an outside source—simply “wrote out a few large checks”, the Meeting would reach its goal but it would not have received the most important benefits of a successful campaign.
What will a successful campaign look like?  It will:
  • Engage the FMW community in a process that leads to the community looking back and saying “we did it……..and we did it as a community.”
  • Empower people to “bring their gifts to the table at very general and, often, sacrificial levels”—and feel good about those gifts whether $10 or $100,000.
  • Stretch people in their perception of the Meeting and its role in their lives with the end result being: a) an increased “sense of community”; b) increased engagement and involvement in the Meeting; and c) an increase in both the breadth (number of supporters) and depth (level of support) for the on-going operational needs of the Meeting. 
Henry B. Freeman
H.  Freeman Associates, LLC

FMW Interview List
  1. Byron and Susan Sandford
  2. Neil Froemming
  3. Grant Thompson
  4. Kait Decker
  5. Steve Brooks
  6. J.E. McNeil
  7. Rindy O’Brien
  8. Ted Green
  9. Tracy Hart
  10. Jane Edgerton
  11. Debbie Churchman
  12. Jim Bell
  13. Mary Campbell & Bill Strein
  14. Lib Segal
  15. Michael Cronin
  16. Bill Foskett
  17. Ann & David Kendall
  18. Haydon Wetzell
  19. Molly Tully
  20. Ed Hustead
  21. Bob & Susan Meehan
  22. Joe Izzo & Tom Libbert
  23. David Etheridge
  24. Denny Hartzell
  25. Dick Bellin
  26. Libby Garvey
  27. Judy Harvey
  28. Mark Haskell
  29. Marcia Reecer
  30. Nancy Beiter
  31. Faith Williams
  32. Loie Clark
  33. Gerri Williams
  34. Monteque Kern
  35. Sally Cooper
  36. Susan Lepper
  37. Robin Appleberry & Ken Forsberg
  38. Tom Cooke
  39. Merry Pearlstein
  40. Robinne Gray
  41. Greg Woods
  42. Steve Coleman
Summary:  42 interviews (including 6 couples—48 people) 
Sample FMW Campaign Gift Tables (Tables of Investment) 
Table of Investment
$3.8 Million Campaign

Gift Level*
 Number           Total    Cumulative Total
 $   500,000          1      $   500,000          $   500,000
 $   250,000          2      $   500,000          $1,000,000
 $   150,000          4      $   600,000          $1,600,000
 $   100,000          6      $   600,000          $2,200,000
 $     50,000        10      $   500,000          $2,700,000
 $     25,000        16      $   400,000          $3,100,000
 $     10,000        25      $   250,000            $3,350,000
 $       5,000        50      $   250,000          $3,600,000
 $       1,000        85        $     85,000          $3,685,000
 Below $1,000   Many      $   115,000          $3,800,000
Totals     200               $3,800,000
$2.0 Million Campaign

Gift Level*
 Number           Total    Cumulative Total
 $   500,000          0              
 $   250,000          1      $   250,000          $   250,000
 $   150,000          2      $   300,000          $   650,000
 $   100,000          2      $   200,000          $   850,000
 $     50,000          5      $   250,000          $1,100,000
 $     25,000          8      $   200,000          $1,300,000
 $     10,000        15      $   250,000            $1,550,000
 $       5,000        25      $   200,000          $1,750,000
 $       2,500        40      $   100,000          $1,850,000
 $       1,000      100      $   100,000          $1,950,000
 Below $1,000   Many      $     50,000          $2,000,000
Totals     200               $2,000,000
*Pledges payable over up to 3 years.  Note:  Campaign Gift Tables are designed to provide a general or rough estimate of the size financial investments that may be needed to reach a specific goal.