As part of our work on a comprehensive capital campaign for the YMCA of Greater Richmond, The Sheridan Group conducted a Feasibility Study for the Patrick Henry YMCA in late 2007. This was of significant interest to us given that we had assisted the Y, and Patrick Henry in particular, in its first successful campaign in 2001.
Our Study discovered a ready corps of enthusiastic leaders and donors highly motivated by the prospect of consolidating area YMCA activities into one location and facility. However, we also recognized the need for Patrick Henry to expand its cultivation and education of a full base of regional prospects if its campaign was to be fully successful.
Accordingly, we recommended a three phase campaign: a Nucleus Fund Campaign (6 months) during which lead gifts would be raised from ready prospects, a Leadership Gifts Campaign (9 months) during which newly cultivated prospects would be solicited for leadership contributions and a Public Campaign (6 months) to help the Y reach its goal as well as spread the word of its new facility.
Patrick Henry was able with our guidance and partnership to recruit a very well-respected couple to Chair its campaign and make a significant lead gift. A Nucleus Fund Cabinet was recruited and quickly established important momentum and credibility for the Campaign through a successful Board Campaign (resulting in 100% participation), while also successfully cultivating numerous prospects for the Leadership Gifts phase.
Unfortunately, as the Leadership Gifts Campaign was launched, our country entered the Great Recession. Many prospects deferred their decisions about their participation in and level of support possible for the campaign. Accordingly, The Sheridan Group recommended that Patrick Henry extend its campaign timetable, that it continue and even intensify its communication and cultivation activities with top prospects as well as intensify its publicity about the campaign’s early success and its plans for the future.
As the recession dragged on, we worked with the Executive Director to assure that the Y stayed the course of its campaign and did its best to sustain and build its relationships. This advice resulted in an ongoing communication with a local family foundation. The founder of the foundation had been a lead donor to Patrick Henry’s first campaign and the foundation had also made a lead gift to the current effort. However, as conversations continued, the foundation’s Board came to see that the donor’s legacy and lifetime of caring for the community could be well represented by naming the new facility. They ultimately decided on a $1 million contribution, enabling the Y to expand the scope of the facility to include an originally proposed gymnasium.
This contribution sparked great excitement in the community and brought back into the fold many prior prospects as the recession began to abate. Accordingly, the Patrick Henry Campaign reached its goal and built its new consolidated facility with great public fanfare.