A New Path

Fundraising is challenging enough, but it’s even more difficult during an economic recession.



Published:

Fundraising is challenging enough, but it’s even more difficult during an economic recession. So how have Doug Armstrong and his team raised more than $11 million since 2007 to renovate a camp in Pinckney for seriously ill children?

It’s all about crafting the right message.

“It wasn’t easy, especially when we raised $1,200 in the first year, $25,000 in 2008, and $25,000 in 2009,” says Armstrong, CEO and executive director of North Star Reach, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. “Potential donors were interested, but they said, ‘Come back when you’re further along.’ It’s the old Catch-22; no one wanted to make the lead gift because they were concerned the project wouldn’t happen.”

To get past the apprehension, Armstrong changed his pitch in 2010. In addition to touting the fact that the organization had raised $51,200, he worked with the University of Michigan Health System to attach a value to land it had donated. The school also provided an initial planning staff, produced design services, and tore down some outdated buildings that had previously housed a summer camp.

“The U-M gift was valued at $4.1 million, which really changed our message and provided us with the wind behind our sails,” Armstrong says. “I can tell you our potential donors were more impressed.”

Armed with the new message, North Star raised $300,000 in 2010. Last year, another $700,000 was donated. And so far in 2012, $5.5 million has been received, including a $5 million gift from the Ted and Jane Von Voigtlander Foundation. (The late Ted Von Voigtlander was co-owner of Discount Tire Co.)

The new camp, which will have room for 120 children, is on pace to open in 2014. The facility will include medical equipment, a gymnasium and theater, a nature center, a fishing pier, and numerous other amenities.

“So often, seriously ill children go to one of three places — home, school, or the hospital,” Armstrong says. “It’s incredibly disruptive. The camp will give the children a sense of normalcy. They’ll be just like all the other kids that attend camp.” db — R.J. King

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Buildings In Time

From jewelry to historic buildings, Roger Basmajian embraces urban redevelopment.

Safe and Secure

Many inventions that have the greatest impact on everyday life are deceptively simple. Auburn Hills-based Hydra-Zorb’s cushion clamp could be considered one of those breakthroughs.

Capital Gain

If area banks backed loans against intellectual property, it would propel Michigan’s video game industry.

Stacking Up

Joe H. Schodowski, president and CEO of Shelving Inc. in Auburn Hills, sums up the company’s offerings succinctly: “We rack your world,” he says.

Virtual Anatomy

Researchers at the University of Michigan are taking the science of anatomy into the simulated 3-D world.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Ann Arbor’s TITLE Boxing Club Adds New Owners
    Ann Arbor-based TITLE Boxing Club International— which has grown to 150 boxing clubs from 20...
  2. Detroit Denim Co. Opens New Location, Launches Additional Product Lines
    Described as a new manufacturing center in the Motor City, Detroit Denim Co. opens its new...
  3. Detroit’s Metropolitan Building to be Converted into Extended-stay Hotel
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and two local partners will convert the historic...
  4. 3 Beaumont Hospitals to Offer Non-Emergency Heart Procedure
    Beaumont hospitals in Farmington Hills, Trenton, and Wayne have earned approvals to perform...
  5. New Nonprofit Plans to Build Market-rate Homes, Apartments in Detroit
    With the goal of investing in Detroit’s communities and creating increased access to housing...
  6. French Firms Plan Visit to Troy to Study Autonomous Vehicles
    An event focused on connected and autonomous vehicles for French businesses looking to gain...