I hope this message finds you well and that the brighter days are a balm to your spirits! I am writing to share some updates on our ongoing efforts to transform our physical space here at the NEW Center. As we usher in Black History Month I am reminded that dreaming is a revolutionary act. We’ve been hard at work bringing our improved community-centric space – a place where dreams and action collide – to life. I’m humbled by the labor of so many that are committed to making this happen and are offering their gifts and brilliance with so much love! I’m also grateful for the support and patience that many of you have extended to me and the team as the development unfurls.
Community. Culture. Connections.
As a refresher, the purpose and goals of the campaign are to raise $13M to:
- Make structural and accessibility improvements to the building and site;
- Bring even more mission-driven people and organizations together to deepen collective impact in the local nonprofit sector;
- Ensure NEW aligns with the A2 Zero Sustainability plan;
- Position ourselves as place-keeper of this heritage site ensuring local histories of the neighborhoods and lands we’re in/on are preserved;
- Improve access and connectivity to BBIPOC (Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Color) led & serving nonprofits and social change leaders across the SE Michigan region.
Achievements So Far:
- We’ve engaged over 250 members of the community (nonprofits, donors, funders, residents) in our process and centered their hopes and dreams for the space in the design and purpose for the project
- We’re continuing to build our Major Donor infrastructure –something we’ve not done for nearly 30 years –and have increased major donors by 50%.
- 100% of the project thus far — design, architecture, site planning and evaluation — has been covered by grants.
- We engaged in a Fundraising Feasibility Study. It wasn’t the best process but we did learn some key things that we’re acting upon.
- We presented at the Social Purpose Real Estate national conference with great reception, and lots of similar inspiring projects across N. America
Current Progress (w/numbers):
- We’ve already raised nearly $2M to make this dream come true!
- We are reviewing Design Development documents and finding opportunities to reduce costs by at least $1M. This will reduce overall projected construction costs from $10M to closer to $8M.
- We have $8M+ out in funding requests (these include government and foundation asks). The additional $4M we need to raise is for contingencies, furniture & fixtures and an operating reserve (the latter is a rolling goal).
- We recently reorganized our Fundraising Task Force. The *new* Resource Mobilization Ambassadors (RMA’s) are helping to attend to some of the weaknesses revealed in our Feasibility Study. They are assisting in two key areas: a) helping expand awareness of NEW’s offerings across the region, and, b) expanding our networks of donors (foundation and major)
- We are recruiting an influential *Chair* of our NCT fundraising campaign
- We have received proposals from a lobbyist firm (to engage in advocacy at the state and federal levels) and a national donor prospecting firm (to identify new, national funding sources). We still need to identify funding for these two pieces. An ask to Bosch Community Fund is forthcoming.
- The fallout from the pandemic has made fundraising a real challenge. Funders have been slow to reply or move resources (this is true for our general operating budget and the NCT). We’ve heard from other nonprofits across the region that they’re experiencing the same.
- We cannot commit to breaking ground (and will not) until we’ve secured at least $8M. We’re nowhere near this number at the time of this writing. The implication of that is further delay in starting the project. Though disappointing, we remain committed to not burdening NEW or our tenants with added debt to cover this project.
Success stories related to the campaign:
- The $650K lead grant we received from the state was a boon to our campaign and confidence last year.
- The Zingerman’s Community of Businesses have really taken NEW under their wings. To date, they’ve provided financial investment and awareness across their vast network. Watch out for a feature in their March “Nonprofit Spotlight“.
- Our 30th Anniversary celebration affirmed NEW’s impact in the sector! People who spanned our 30 years of operation applauded our work and impact. Folks are really excited about the NCT.
- We’ve entered into a partnership with the City of Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability and Innovation that is buoying our sustainability planning; the largest being that the NCT will use geo-thermal HVAC.
Upcoming Events or Initiatives:
- Our board of directors has gotten very engaged! In April, two (2) members will host a fundraiser on our behalf:
- The event will be hosted in Detroit at FAIRCLOTH Boutique on April 18th
- Our Resource Mobilization Ambassadors are convening and have a clear purpose and aim: raise awareness and money.
Acknowledgment of Contributions:
Special shout out to Kathy Laird (project manager and liaison to CEO); Will Jones, Director of Contributions and Communications, and, Ebony Robinson, our Board Fellow (who officially joins the board in March) for their unwavering support, guidance and leadership. They are invaluable to this effort.
I will continue to provide quarterly updates (sooner if something juicy happens) and appreciate all of you who are rolling with the dynamism of this project. Thank you for daring to dream with us. Together, we are making a significant difference, and I look forward to achieving even greater milestones in the coming weeks and months. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns.