Push begins for potential high-dollar donors for new animal shelter

Gary B. Gray • Nov 30, 2012 at 9:51 PM

The lead consultant from a firm hired this fall by the Animal Control Board to conduct a feasibility study to see if there is $1.75 million out there to build the new Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter’s “footprint” said Friday the final report should be ready in mid-February.

At that time, board members will take what information they have and make a decision to either bring Dickerson, Bakker and Associates on as the full-fledged fundraising and consulting leader of the pack, or to thank them for their efforts and try to figure out what to do next.

“All during this fundraising campaign, there’s going to be a need for someone to do these additional tasks to keep the process going,” City Manager and Board Chairman Pete Peterson said following a report from Debbie Dobbs, the shelter’s director, a board member and someone that’s been kept extremely busy trying to juggle paperwork while dealing with the company as well as the architect for their new digs.

County Commissioner and Board Member David Tomita, being typically time-conscious, said this after learning that 40-50 potential donors were being lined up for interviews with the company’s Senior Consulting Associate Gary Taylor from Dec. 10-14: “As we put the rubber to the road, we wouldn’t want (help for Dobbs) to go away. Perhaps this is the time when we form our fundraising committee and let them take over a portion of this.”

Concerned that they may be wasting valuable time, and that a fundraising crew of some sort should be assembled in the interim to act as a liaison between the board and potential donors, Peterson reached for his speaker phone and dialed up Taylor.

“Is this the time to solidify a fundraising committee?” he asked.

“Not really,” Taylor answered. “We could use them (committee/volunteers) after we do the interviews. It’s too early to do that. We’re going to know who’s already said ‘we’re going to give you $25,000 to $50,000 or $100,000 to $125,000.’ It’s not that I don’t want there to be a fundraising committee to help. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves until we get the feasibility study done.”

After the conversation, members seemed relatively assured — relatively. Tomita still felt it could do no harm by having someone out “beating the bushes.”

“A fundraising committee can do a number of things, especially those things that Mr. Taylor cannot do, such as identifying potential donors and going out and making contacts,” he said.

So here’s where things stand as of the board’s Friday meeting. There has been “no news of any cash infusions,” according to Dobbs. Taylor, and Dobbs on occasion, will do face-to face interviews with about 50 potential donors. These are the potential large donors.

Meanwhile, Taylor has set a course of action that will follow, including telephone calls to potential donors and email communiques with roughly 500 people. These efforts will be followed up with an online survey meant to capture the interest and secure the well intentions of other potential donors. This will not be implemented until after Christmas, Taylor said.

Peterson also suggested a face-to-face between board members and Taylor before the process runs its course, to which all wholeheartedly agreed. The board also approved the last installment of $4,125, which covers $16,500 for the initial study — money from the board’s roughly $176,000 building fund set up in a special account.

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