Money and the Mission
“As president your job is to give your professional opinion to the Board regarding what needs to get done and what it will cost.” That advice was given to me many years ago by a chamber of commerce colleague who was nearing the end of a very successful career. I had just hired him onto my staff at a chamber in the southeast. In the twilight of his career, he forgot more by breakfast than I even knew as a young executive. He had led large organizations and had helped communities become economically successful. He was the real deal, and I hired him to run our economic development program but got a sage and seasoned mentor in the bargain.
As was his way, and in keeping with the nature of our relationship, he offered up unsolicited but helpful advice. At that time I was trying to influence an issue that required a substantial amount of money. It was important for the community, but we didn’t have the money, so he followed up his first offering with this homily: “Don’t shoehorn your dreams into your budget.”
Basically, he was saying that if it was important enough to do, the money would follow…if you made your case. In short, provide a plan, put a price tag on it and lead. At that point it would be up to the business community whether it was important enough to them to fund.
Over the next few months you’ll hear about the Chamber’s Moving Fort Collins Forward! campaign. It’s a fund raising campaign, but its’ more than that. It is Chamber leaders saying ‘This is what needs to get done and this is how much it costs. Can you help us?’
During the summer the Chamber Board and staff pondered questions like ‘What do members value? What big issues would improve the area’s quality of life and economic prosperity? How can we make these things happen?’
The product of these musing is included in the Moving Fort Collins Forward! campaign. Included are 20 events and services and three key strategic initiatives. The initiatives are bigger projects that impact community quality of life and the economy. The Jobs Initiative, the Stand Up for Business Initiative and the Improved Infrastructure Initiative focus on economic development, lobbying and improved public infrastructure, respectively.
In other words, money isn’t being raised just for the sake of raising money. Moving Fort Collins Forward! is about putting resources towards things that improve the livability of Fort Collins and the local economy.
Twenty of the community’s most prominent companies are fielding teams or underwriting the costs of the campaign. Altogether, over 60 volunteers will be raising $400,000 in 10 weeks.
They can use your help. To find out more how you can help, give me a call or click here.