by Invited Guest Blogger Geoff BurnsOn August 30, 2010, the Geneva Hills Group purchased a 50 year old 350 acre Christian camp and environmental education facility. The success of this campaign was literally against all odds.Geneva Hills had been owned and operated by one conglomerate of Presbyterian churches in central Ohio since 1959. However, due to financial concerns and some other factors, Geneva Hills was shut down at the end of 2003.Many people were angry that the camp was closed; others felt that it was a great decision to not loose any more money. Emotions ran high for supporters of sides of the argument. In 2005, a small committee leased the camp to keep it open for their own use and so others could at least use the camp for their own purposes as well. Even though there was support for this mission, the conglomerate, known as the Presbytery, did not want to deal with the facility anymore.As the years passed, many groups formed and disbanded, each one had an interest in seeing Geneva Hills “re-opened,” but never had the will to follow through on a major campaign to purchase and reinvest in the ministry there.In June 2008 the Presbytery decided to place Geneva Hills on the market to sell. At this time two young managers of Geneva Hills had decided on their own to look for ways to fundraise to purchase Geneva Hills and continue the ministry. After interviewing many different consultants and fundraising firms, the managers decided on Hartsook Companies.Geneva Hills’ fundraising goal is $5,000,000. When we started, we had no money at all, and we had 20 months to raise $1,000,000 just to purchase the camp—and we weren’t even a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit yet! We went in knowing if we achieved that $1 million goal to purchase the property, we still would have no funds for operation, programming, improvements, repairs, etc. Oh yeah, Geneva Hills had no donor base, the stock market just crashed, and the Geneva Hills Group didn’t exist yet.The Geneva Hills Group was founded in December 2008, and immediately acquired Hartsook’s services. Karin Cox showed the board how to fundraise and gave her word that if they would do as she instructed, the campaign to purchase the camp would be a success. Bob Hartsook, Karin Cox and the entire company were incredibly involved in Geneva Hills over those 20 months. Simply put, Geneva Hills would not exist today if not for Hartsook Companies and especially Bob and Karin.I, along with my wife Kristy, Hartsook Companies, and all of our donors are now in the next phase of our fundraising campaign. To use the words of our Chairman, “while we are breathing a little sigh of relief, we are taking a deep breath, ready to move into the next step of the campaign.”On behalf of all those who will benefit from Geneva Hills’ mission for years to come, “Thank you Karin. Thank you Bob. Thank you, Hartsook.”
Will You Be There When John Shamberg Calls?
A big part of fundraising is showing up and being available. I learned this lesson on a very memorable New Year’s Eve, a very long time ago.
As an eager young fundraiser working for Washburn University, I didn’t know that it was unusual still to be at work in the evening of December 31st. But, there I was.
Earlier that year, a graduate of Washburn University School of Law told me he was going to give a gift of land to his synagogue, a private K-12 school and Washburn. John Shamberg, who has since passed away, made millions of dollars for institutions all over the world, and he wanted to give a significant gift to organizations he valued. His 40 acres of land on the outskirts of Kansas City were valued at $450,000, and his intention was to give $150,000 each to three organizations.
He’d left the task to the last day of the year, but now he was ready to make it happen.
He called the synagogue. No answer.
He called the K-12 school. No answer.
Then, he called Washburn and got me.
“Bob,” he said, “you just won the jackpot!”
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