Camp Fire and Fundraising
Let’s talk about fundraising. Better yet, let’s talk about the role Camp Fire National Headquarters must play to ensure three things for our donors, funders, fee-paying parents, and other key stakeholders:(1) effective programming, consistently delivered; (2) a consistent, rigorous approach to program performance measurement and the evaluation of youth impact; and (3) customizable program materials and resources that meet our program quality and brand standards.
Why is this a headquarters function? Or put another way—-why should donors and funders invest in the business of a national headquarters? Quite simply, because it makes no sense in any kind of retail, franchise, or affiliate-based company or organization to have the local entities responsible for creating the core programs and products for which the organization as a whole is best known. That is the role of headquarters, so that the local entities can do what they do best—-deliver quality programs to their constituents and provide them a first-rate experience in the process. And that is the essential role Camp Fire councils play, delivering our core programs at more than 1,500 sites nationwide.
As a matter of fact, in FY 2014, 76% of Camp Fire National Headquarters’ expenses directly supported youth program development and implementation, related support to councils, and fundraising. Our goal is a simple one—to secure sufficient and recurring corporate and private funding to systemize and standardize the core elements of our program delivery system—just as we see wherever we bank, shop, or dine. The “secret sauce” is not in the standardization of the program or product—the “secret sauce” is in that very special and unique experience each employee (and, in our case, employee and volunteer) provides youth and their families when they offer it.
The role of Camp Fire National Headquarters—of any headquarters, really—is also highly aspirational. On top of providing consistent quality programs, sufficient and recurring financial support ensures that these programs are infused with those essential values that “make Camp Fire, Camp Fire.”—so that no matter where a young person or family engages with us, they can count on at least four things:
1. Trained, caring staff and adults who help them explore and discover their skills, passions, and unique attributes.
2. An environment where all are welcome.
3. Participant/youth-led experiences. A place where “youth voice” really matters.
4. Experiences that help youth and teens develop strategies to succeed and flourish now—not just at some point in the future.
Al Pacino, in Scent of a Woman, could have been talking to our potential supporters: “….You hold this boy’s [child’s] future in your hands. And it’s a valuable future….”