Wellness Talk: We know we can count on you

Like most things in life, you learn a lot as you go along, and by the end you say to yourself, "I wish I knew then what I know now." So it goes with fundraising for the new Wellness Center.

Like most things in life, you learn a lot as you go along, and by the end you say to yourself, "I wish I knew then what I know now." So it goes with fundraising for the new Wellness Center.

"How much money have you raised?" I have often been asked this. I answer, "I'll tell you how much money I've raised when you tell me how much the final project is going to cost." That one often gets the reply, "You tell me how much money you can raise and we'll tell you how much the final project will cost."

This is the old chicken-and-egg syndrome.

Of course, people don't want to pledge their hard-earned money until they know exactly what they are pledging money for and how much is it going to cost. This dilemma is compounded as we sought funds from the state because many donors held back, waiting to see what the state would put toward the project before they committed their funds.

At the same time, the state wanted a certain local commitment before we could qualify for state funding. It gets maddening at times.


Our final project proposal to the state came in at close to an even $10 million, and included a recreational swimming pool with one water slide, three-lanes for lap swimming, a warm water therapy pool to be used by Tri-County Hospital, two racquetball courts, a weight/aerobics area, one gymnasium with a full-sized basketball court, a small walking track and several modestly sized meeting rooms. Of course, different people would like to see additional amenities at the Center. These include:

A full six-lane lap pool with the appropriate dimensions for competitive high school swimming ($400,000);

An additional full-sized basketball court that would allow enough space for large events, such as trade shows ($1.5 million);

A skyway connecting the Wellness Center to the new high school ($500,000); and

A larger reserve fund to cover potential operating deficits, repairs and maintenance ($300,000 to $500,000).

To date, our committee has raised a little over $3 million. We are completing the final phases of the private fundraising campaign, and will soon begin the first phase of the public fundraising campaign.

You are probably familiar with public fundraising campaigns in the past, when you saw a large thermometer with a red line up to the point of current pledges. At the top is a goal that may seem somewhat out of reach, particularly at the beginning.

What you learn by working on a project such as this is that the vast majority of funds are raised well before the public fundraising ever begins.


It is common to raise 80-90 percent of your funds through private donations from large donors for most large projects. This is almost a necessity, since there would be no way of establishing a realistic budget for a project unless you knew approximately how much money you are going to raise.

This is not to say that the public fundraising campaign is not important. It is very important. It educates the public about the nature and details of a project and allows even the smallest donors to make not only a financial, but also an emotional commitment to the cause.

Within a few weeks, we will begin our public phase of fund raising. We would still like to see more lanes for competitive swimming, more space for weddings, parties, and even trade shows, a skyway connecting to the high school and a bigger reserve for contingencies.

We're going to need your help. We also know we can count on you.

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