Potential $250K donor identified in animal shelter study

Gary B. Gray • Feb 26, 2013 at 9:09 PM

Denver-based Dickerson, Bakker and Associates’ feasibility report Tuesday revealed the company has identified a potential $250,000 donor for the new Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter.

However, company President Derric Bakker and lead consultant Gary Taylor told members of the Animal Control Board that the gift is tentative and that the unidentified donor would rather not pony up that amount without an equal match.

This welcome news was tempered by other results of the study, including the fact that the nearly $1.7 million needed may not reachable unless a handful of additional donor prospects at the $50,000 to $100,000 range step up.

“Barring that, it’s more likely to come in at about $1 million,” Bakker said about the estimated amount that could be raised.

Phases. Milestones. Tiers. Multiple constituent groups.

This is money-gathering lingo. But it’s part and parcel of the company’s plan to reel in the dollars.

Bakker showed members a range of gift-giving tiers, which the company recommended targeting. The top range is from $50,000- $250,000; the second is $10,000-$35,000; the third is $1,000-$7,500.

“We’ve identified that the middle and lower tiers will come together,” Bakker said. “But we’re probably running $250,000 short in the whole recipe. It becomes a matter of — do we have givers at each tier.”

There are far more “ingredients” to this capital campaign to look at now that the company has concluded their study. One would be the $5,500 per month fee that the company is asking to head a 15-18-month fundraising campaign, which would cost $99,000, not including expenses, for the full measure.

Board members agreed to have the company draw up a contract to do just that, but that does not mean they’ve made up their minds to seal the deal. In fact, several board members questioned the fee, citing what they recalled being the company’s $5,000 per month original retainer fee.

Nonetheless, the board will hold a special called meeting March 7 to consider the contract.

Taylor reported that the majority of responses in personal interviews, telephone conversations and online surveys, indicated potential donors felt there was a strong cause to support the new shelter.

“More than 89 percent said there is a need to build a new facility, and that the $1.7 million was doable,” he said. “That’s pretty high.”

Taylor said he had also identified others he felt would come forward, but he and Bakker warned that there has been a large amount of media coverage and public attention given to the issue and that the board, with the company leading the way, needs to take specific and precise steps as the campaign moves forward.

On several occasions, Bakker used the phrase “holding your fire” as a metaphor to describe the mode, or conditions, that would best facilitate high-level donations. To paraphrase, both Bakker and Taylor told members that past struggles with fundraising — particularly the highly publicized snags — could possibly cause some to shy away from giving.

“This really is still in the early phases. If we find ourselves in the last phase of the campaign and we’re $500,000 short, it will be tougher to fill out that bottom tier,” Bakker said. “Another thing that came through in the study was that the scores began to drop when it came to ‘capacity to get it done.’ It was not a strong yes, but it was a ‘yes.’”

Talk turned to types of donations.

“I spent some time with the architect about the $500,000 in site work,” said City Manager and Board Chairman Pete Peterson. “He and I could come to no good conclusion why the site work would cost that much.”

Bakker said there are many different ways to reach the monetary goal, including in-kind work, including the donation of labor and materials at no cost.

“Well, I’m encouraged,” said David Tomita, County Commissioner, board member and candidate for one of two Johnson City Commission seats.

Taylor, whom Bakker said would be “the shoes on the street guy,” indicated he could start contacting top potential donors immediately should the board agree to the contract.

City Commissioner and board member Ralph Van Brocklin first introduced the idea of hiring a professional firm in April, and he personally sought out several firms from which to choose. That idea was dropped when it was assumed there were some big-time donors committed to contributing an amount equaling more than twice the amount to build the original $1.2 million footprint.

It turned out that commitment was not as stable as once thought.

Once again, it’s time for the Animal Control Board to take what information they have and make a decision to either bring the company on as its full-fledged capital campaign leader of the pack, or to thank them for their efforts and try to figure out what to do next.

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