The Highground Board of Directors has approved a contract with Crescendo Fundraising Professionals, LLC to initiate a $3.75 to $4M capital campaign to respond to growth of the organization and to improve the visitor experience and services for its 225,000 annual visitors.
The campaign is based on a recently completed Campaign Readiness Study which confirmed the capital campaign expansion is justifiable, has merit, and carries urgency. The results were identified from The Highground stakeholders, donors, and area philanthropic leaders. The funding capacity to meet the studied goal of $7.5M was found to be unavailable at this time with a recommendation to respond to those elements at a future time based on fundraising success.
From its founding by Tom Miller and a small group of Vietnam veterans in 1984, the organization has grown to a 157-acre memorial park hosting more than 225,000 visitors annually and serves 6,000 to 8,000 veterans with individual referral, support, and healing services. The main campus includes the museum and visitor center, a library of military collections, 19 tributes dedicated to veterans’ groups and service eras, a meditation garden,
and trails which crisscross hills and valleys featuring a breathtaking landscape. A recently donated campground retreat, Camp Victory, located approximately 20 miles from the main campus, is comprised of 300 acres and expands the organization’s capacity to provide retreats for veterans and their families which will be fully developed in the coming years.
Recognizing the need to expand to better accommodate huge visitor interest, the Board of Directors began exploring the idea of a building expansion project and fundraising campaign in 2018. According to Board of Directors President, C.W. King, “Through this study our donors have helped us determine the parameters for a successful campaign, and we are grateful for the input to help us set the course for the best future for the organization.”
Stakeholders’ input identified the following elements to address for the expansion campaign
● Pay off the organization’s $750,000 mortgage to increase financial stability and long-term sustainability
● A new larger welcome and visitor center to house meeting and programming space and exhibits
● Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance to ensure disabled veterans and all visitors are able to access all elements of the park and memorial sites
● Parking changes for safer access as funds allow
The Campaign Readiness Study provided the opportunity for respondents to share their ideas and thoughts, helped identify top leadership potential, evaluated the fundraising climate and favorable conditions, identified possible challenges, and developed a preliminary timeline for the campaign. According to Ellen Hongerholt, M.A., Crescendo Fundraising Professionals, LLC owner, “The Highground is a special place. It is obviously treasured by visitors who know the healing experience found there by veterans, veterans’ families, and others who care about and honor the sacrifice of our country’s military.”
Results of the study are available by contacting The Highground or online at https://www.thehighground.us/campaign/
Hongerholt and her team of three advisors will manage the capital campaign process set to begin planning stages in April. After all the planning steps have been completed, informational sessions will begin to educate and engage individuals, organizations, and businesses about the expansion throughout the summer. The solicitation stage is slated for the fall of 2020 to mid-2021. To volunteer, or for more information, contact Ike Rebout at 715-743-4224.