05/27/11 — Chamber to launch fundraising campaign

View Archive

Chamber to launch fundraising campaign

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on May 27, 2011 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce is planning to unveil a new fundraising effort that will concentrate its campaigning for donations and sponsorships into a seven-week period beginning in August rather than asking for donations on an event-by-event basis throughout the year.

The campaign, called a "total resource campaign," will be run by a consultant, YGM, which will train volunteers to maximize their abilities to bring in donations and sponsorships. YGM is a firm operated by Joyce Powell-Johnson, who has provided campaign consultation services to associations across the country.

The concentrated effort differs from what the chamber has done in previous years, Chamber president Marian Mason said.

"Traditionally, what we do right now is we go ask for sponsorships as they come up throughout the year, but now we'll have a set period of time every year that we do that to raise our operating funds. That way, our staff can focus on making those programs successful rather than worrying about getting paid," she said.

But while the consultant firm promises to dramatically increase revenues for a commissioned percentage of those totals, the move to an annual sponsorship drive might impact other organizations in the area that have formed their own sponsorship drives at a grassroots level, namely the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation.

DGDC Executive Director Julie Thompson runs a program similar to the Chamber's planned total resource campaign at the beginning of the calendar year. The chamber's decision to hold a similar drive has Mrs. Thompson concerned.

"It is a concern for us, and I would sound gullible if I said anything different," she said, though she is confident the two organizations can work together to assure that both sides can gain from their respective campaigns. "It will just make us sharper about our approach and have more gratitude for our sponsors. We'll have to work harder to get them to continue to support us."

Mrs. Thompson described how important the annual sponsorship drive, which her organization runs itself, is for DGDC, noting that 85 percent of the organization's yearly programs are funded through sponsorships, and nearly all of the programs work out to losses for the DGDC financially.

She said a limited supply of civic-minded local business owners might be hard pressed to offer up money for both organizations, and said plans are in the works for a meeting between Mrs. Mason, Chamber Board Chairman Ben Seegers, DGDC Chair-man Geoff Hulse and herself to make sure the two organizations aren't "working against each other."

Mrs. Mason said she saw the organizations as having two distinct goals and didn't foresee any sort of competition for the funds. She said the chamber will simply make its case to business owners that it is a viable investment.

Matt Young, a DGDC board member and one of the owners of The Flying Shamrock, a chamber member business, said he likely won't have much overhead to increase any financial contributions this year for either organization, but that in-kind donations, as the Shamrock typically donates, could be possible if it looks like a lucrative investment for his bar.

"Every offer that comes through the door comes down to how it adds to our bottom line," he said. "Prove that it is a worthwhile business opportunity for us to get involved and we would give to both. It's not competing to me. Just show how is this making us added revenue. Show that and I'm in. If not, I'm out."

He sees the chamber campaign as a smart move to increase revenues, but isn't sure about paying a consultant to train volunteers. He said he felt the chamber will find it difficult to find dedicated volunteers who will submit to training and the long hours of fundraising at businesses across town.

"Every single organization, based on the economy, has hit their folks up for more time and more money so their time has been usurped more," he said, noting that hiring college students to raise funds. "They should pay to have somebody do it."

The chamber hopes to begin its seven-week campaign in August.