The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Boys and Girls Club had a goal to raise $1.5 million for renovations to the Lucy Simms building.
At one point, it had $750,000 in pledges, but with people not responding to the pledges and the use of a consulting firm, the club was only able to collect $33,000.
Now the city of Harrisonburg has to pay almost $2 million for the project. The Boys and Girls club raises $1.6 million a year for its annual operating budget, but taking on an additional $1.5 million project was a lot harder than club officials or the city anticipated.
"When we knew that we were going to have to raise about $1.5 million, it was really evident to us that we couldn't take a grassroots approach, that we were going to have to conduct a full-scale capital campaign," says Heather Denman, executive director of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Boys and Girls Club.
That's when they entered into a contract with a consulting firm, DNS, for services during a two and half year period. The total for those services came to $261,000, which had to be subtracted from the $295,000 the club had managed to raise.
"Two hundred thousand dollars was the consulting fee," says Denman. "We also had a feasibility study, and we also had to pay travel and accommodation expenses when they came to town once a month to provide services for us. So that was extra. That's how we get up to the higher amount."
That's the numbers the club had to present to the city. City council members were disappointed the club didn't come close to it's $1.5 million goal, but Mayor Rodney Eagle realizes that there were other challenges, such as facing competition from other capital campaigns from RMH and JMU at the same time. But he says the taxpayers aren't at a total loss.
"We still own the building," says Eagle. "I think that's the bottom line. So it's not taxpayers money going out and just not having anything tangible to show for it. At least we have a building and the title to the city of Harrisonburg.
This was the first and last time Denman says the club will hire a consulting firm because they now have the tools to do another major fundraising project like this one.
The club will continue to operate, but the city council will have to meet with the club to decide how to structure the lease and possibly make some other changes to cover the money problem.