By Jeffrey D. Byrne, Co-Founder + CEO, Byrne Pelofsky + Associates
Capital Campaigns looking for innovative ways to find new funding or to begin the process may find public/private partnerships advantageous. Nonprofits have shied away from this funding model because traditional public/private partnerships have been used for funding large civic projects where private entities may receive a certain amount of operating profits on the back side of the projects. However, smaller-sized campaigns can marry private and public funding, creating viability, visibility and vitality in their work.
Whether securing a Congressional Earmark or finding local, county or state dollars to help initialize a campaign, the intangible message to outside donors is that the project has held up to a level of scrutiny that gives it viability and justification. Therefore, organizations can use public funding as a litmus test of legitimacy to help broaden their interests.
Likewise, visibility for the project is garnered when social media and press releases provide a free, broad level of otherwise unattainable publicity to a very wide audience outside of traditional donor pools.
Finally, vitality in shoring up a good chunk of funding that can either move the project forward in significant ways or jumpstart something that has had a sluggish start or has stalled is an excellent reason to seek these kinds of partnerships.
In Kansas City, Kansas, the Kansas City Kansas Community College and Foundation had never sought a public/private partnership. However, in their campaign to fund a new Community Education, Health and Wellness Center in the central downtown district, they received a $12,000,000 ARPA grant through Governor Laura Kelly’s office and $2,000,000 through a Congressional earmark from Congresswoman Sharice Davids. These public investments have stimulated private sector gifts and many donors have commented on how their private gifts go further with a public investment.
Another successful partnership comes out of Clinton, Missouri for Golden Valley Memorial Hospital’s cancer center campaign for a new radiation oncology facility. Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a $1,000,000 appropriation from the Missouri General Assembly ARPA funds and Henry County Commissioners approved a $500,000 ARPA investment for this project. These gifts have fast tracked the campaign and the private fundraising goal was raised accordingly.
The key to success for public investments is to educate yourself, educate your elected officials and educate your campaign team so that public options are on the table early. Learn the appropriation timelines, processes and deadlines. Seek out elected officials – even as candidates, if necessary – and educate them about your organization and how your goals align. Education is not lobbying. There is no conflict of interest in educational messaging. Finally, challenge your campaign team to seek local, state, and federal partnerships. We recommend these kinds of funding opportunities be on every capital campaign’s radar…because after viability, visibility and vitality comes victory.