Building for the Future

A valuable bit of advice given during the process is that no building will be perfect to all who see it or use it. But if it meets your goals and vision with the future in mind you do the best you can. It helps a camp director to know that you did the best you could for your camp during your time.

Donor Relations

It’s not every day a donor will walk in and say “Here… build a building!” How do you do it? Relationship development! That’s how.

As camp directors we know that we do great things for guests and children. But the rest of the world needs to know by seeing the passion you proudly show in your work. People talking about their experiences at camp will serve you well.

Camp directors need to cultivate alumni. Who knows your story better than the campers who came to camp and grew up there? All camps should have a way for alumni to see what’s happening at their camp, and should be cultivating addresses and emails.

An alumni e-mail newsletter should be sent every month keeping alumni informed about what camp is doing. When you need ideas you should send out questions in the newsletter. It may not be an alumnus who can help you fix the problem, but it may be an alumnus who introduces you to someone who can.

All directors should apply for grants and gifts from foundations. Some of the greatest relationships we have now are based on foundation relationships who give repeatedly to us for projects. Just like we did as counselors, we need to remember names! The old saying, “It’s who you know” is true.

In addition, contact your camper parents for ideas and advice. Camper parents are your biggest advocate if the children had a great time, which they should. Camper parents can be a huge resource for pledges, contacts, support and ideas.

Go to trainings and seminars; invite fundraisers in to talk to you and your staff. Understand how professional fundraisers approach the process.

Lastly, whenever possible, go see someone with a volunteer or someone who has a relationship with the possible donor and future camp friend.

In any endeavor to raise money or build a master plan, keep your notes. It is important to remember the process in fundraising and master planning.

“Why did I do that?” Is that a question everyone asks time and again as they are working through the process? It takes months and a many stages to get to the end, so record the process.

In the early stages of my career in the YMCA I hated fundraising. It was the worst thing I had to do and the one I dreaded the most. Get over the fear, because fundraising helps the kids! Proper planning takes time and patience, but in the end it is worth it for your camp and the present and future campers.

With that in mind I have learned to love the process and enjoy the results. As in all things camping remember… It’s for the kids.

Jeff Merhige is the executive director of YMCA Camp Kern, Dayton YMCA, Dayton, Ohio.

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Related posts:

  1. Off-Season Prep
  2. Dream to Reality
  3. Capital Improvements
  4. Hi-Ho Silver…
  5. The Recognition Factor

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