Opened in 2006, the YMCA of the Prairie in Holdredge, NE, recently won the NAYDO Eagle Award for their endowment program. I’ve been fortunate to work with the staff and volunteers of this great organization for the past two years.
In 2008, the board decided to renew their focus on creating a strong endowment fund for their fledgling Y. Their first step was to create an activation plan. That plan included defining their case and goals, developing foundational documents and seeking counsel from community leaders.
With their plan and policies in place, they could begin prospect identification and education. They considered annual donors, YMCA members, community leaders and more. That big list of 400 was eventually whittled down to the top 50.
The key step, and the real joy, in any endowment program is to begin making personal visits. The goal of these hour-long visits was not to ask for money. It was simply to get to know these good friends of the Y better and to eventually invite them to become charter members of the YMCA’s Heritage Club.
People enjoyed talking about their Y experiences as well as the opportunity to learn about how the YMCA is working to assure its long-term strength and viability in the community through the establishment of an endowment fund.
Several people shared that they had already made a Heritage Club commitment, some made Heritage Club commitments soon after the visit and others are continuing to consider various options that in some case could benefit both them and the YMCA.
In addition to these personal visits, the Y invited all of the attorneys and financial planners to an informational luncheon, since they knew that nearly half of YMCA Heritage Club commitments result from a friend of the YMCA visiting with his/her estate planner.
Finally, they concluded their year with their first annual Heritage Club dinner.
At the end of the first year of their endowment program, the YMCA of the Prairie had visited with most of their top 50 friends and had received 11 Heritage Club commitments. They also found that they enjoyed the process that would assure a great future for their YMCA!
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