Private, capital campaign consultants are notorious for not rushing to reveal the names and numbers of who and how much they have secured until a “good bet” or a “strong possibility” materializes into a hard and fast reality.
Such is the case with North Carolina-based Dickerson, Bakker & Associates, which the Animal Control Board is paying to help raise money to build the new Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter.
Derric Bakker, Dickerson, Bakker & Associates president, attended one ACB meeting in City Manager Pete Peterson’s conference room about five months ago and joined in on a conference call at the same location around the same time.
He told the Johnson City Press at the time that major fundraising efforts are a delicate task and that public perception of their success was key. He made the remarks in a diplomatic tone, and it was evident the firm would not likely be blasting out donors’ names at every whim.
On Friday, Bakker provided the Press with information held very close to the vest to this point. The information follows a meeting at which the termination of a $5,000-per-month contract with the company was discussed. Again, the engine behind that conversation was the City Commission’s decision to borrow $1.5 million, which will go toward construction of the new facility on a 6.6-acre lot at 3411 N. Roan St. That financial commitment put the board in the driver’s seat, so to speak.
In addition, Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin announced at the board’s August meeting that the firm had secured a commitment for a $100,000 donation.
“This donation brings the total amount raised for the campaign to date to $262,000,” Bakker said Friday. “This total represents eight firm commitments, ranging in size from $5,000 to $100,000, contributed either in the form of cash donations or a signed pledge form.”
Bakker said each of these commitments are signed on paper and are technically legally binding documents.
“Out of respect for the private nature of the individuals who made these donations, and in consideration of the confidentiality agreement we have in place as part of our contract with the Animal Control Board, we cannot share the names of these donors publicly, but each of the pledge forms received to date have been delivered to the Animal Control Board by way of the city manager’s office.”
Overall, he is pleased with the progress of the campaign to date. Four months into a 12-month campaign, the company has reached about 25 percent of its goal, which is exactly where they would expect to be by this point in the campaign, Bakker said.
“Notably, every individual who has been approached for a contribution so far has been extremely supportive of the project,” he added. “In fact, every individual we have met with to date has responded positively with a cash contribution or a pledge or has indicated an intent to make a contribution but is still considering the final amount and timing of their gift. This 100 percent success rate to date is a strong indication of the future success of the campaign.”
Bakker credited Van Brocklin, saying he has been instrumental in not only leading the campaign but in working shoulder to shoulder with Gary Taylor, the firm’s primary consultant on this campaign, in securing the initial donations. He also said the outlook from this point forward is encouraging since the local fundraising committee is now more fully formed and that he expects the campaign’s momentum to pick up as plans for the building and site come together and people see strong positive progress being made.
Board members exuded a sense of confidence early this month regarding the coming start of construction on the new shelter. At this point, ground on the first phase of the shelter could be broken within two to three months. The entire first phase, which is estimated to cost about $1.9 million, includes what city commissioners consider to be at least the equivalent of the office and kennel space at the existing shelter.
Van Brocklin said this includes the basic structure, about 5,000 square feet of office space, 9,000 square feet of kennel space, site work and architectural fees. He also said the name of the $100,000 donor will “probably” be announced within the next month.
The second phase includes an additional 5,000 square feet of office space, 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of additional kennel space off the back of the building, a spay and neuter clinic for which $50,000 has been donated for equipment, a possible meeting space and rooms for guests considering adoption.
To date, the firm has been paid $20,000 for the four months, and Bakker made note of Press’s continual notation of the company’s fee to manage the campaign. He agreed the amount was no small sum.
“Importantly, however, this investment of $20,000 of taxpayer money has yielded private community donations of more than 10 times that amount,” he said. “Specifically, for every $1 of taxpayer money spent on this campaign to date, over $13 in private donations has been raised for the community. That is about as sound a financial decision that any citizen of Washington County and Johnson City can ask of their city and county leaders.”
One area where Dickerson, Bakker & Associates would like to have seen more progress is in the number of people involved in the campaign so far.
“Fundraising at this level is an ‘eyeball-to-eyeball’ business, so the pace of a campaign of this nature is heavily reliant on the number of people involved, which impacts the number of donors we can see,” he said.