By Conrad Dudderar
City of Yukon leaders are considering a proposal to conduct a $30,000 feasibility study for a major capital resources campaign.
“I’m just trying to figure out some ways to develop more economic vitality in Yukon,” Yukon Chamber of Commerce CEO Pam Shelton told the Yukon City Council.
The plan would be implemented by Opportunity Funding LLC, which raises funds exclusively for non-profit foundations, community and economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, museums, performing arts centers, theaters, hospitals, and technical colleges.
This company – led by principals Jerry Hinson and Doug Kinsinger – also provides strategic planning, economic development planning and organizational development.
“They are two former chamber of commerce directors who have worked with other chambers and non-profits to help raise funds in their community,” Shelton advised city officials during a council study session.
Hinson and Kinsinger recently made a presentation to the Yukon Chamber’s Board of Directors.
Yukon’s Chamber chief cited one example of Opportunity Funding’s success in Oklahoma – the City of Poteau, which needed $1.1 million to raise to construct a new library.
“They went in, did the feasibility study, then they did the actual fund-raising and raised $1.4 million,” Shelton shared.
Opportunity Funding has raised almost $60 million in 10 years for more than 40 communities and organizations in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
“I like free money,” Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby said. “I’d like it not to cost the city.
“(This is) a chance to do something that we’re not asking the taxpayers to pay for – but to get outside participation.”
The funds must be raised to benefit a 501(c)3 non-profit. The Yukon Chamber of Commerce, however, is a 501(c)6 organization.
An option is using the city’s Yukon Community Support Foundation – which is a 501(c)3 non-profit – to receive the funding.
Conducting a feasibility study is being proposed as the “first step in the process” before a capital resources campaign could be launched.
Hinson and Kinsinger would conduct the study over three months to determine whether Yukon would be an appropriate place for such a campaign.
“They would talk to the ‘heavy hitters’ and the citizens and find out what they think would be an asset to this community,” Shelton said.
“The feasibility study is to find out what the community needs and then also to find out if we have the people that would help fund it. It’s a dual purpose.”
SHARING THE COST
Shelton hopes the cost of the study could be shared by the City of Yukon ($10,000), Yukon Chamber ($10,000) and individual contributors ($10,000).
“My ask is to see if the City would help fund the $30,000 feasibility study, to see if we could raise $1.4 million, $2.8 million, or whatever, for some projects that we would like to consider in Yukon.”
She mentioned a downtown outdoor farmers market and Yukon’s Best grain elevator renovations as two possibilities.
City of Yukon and Yukon Chamber officials would have the “final say” on what project (or projects) is done.
Opportunity Funding’s representatives would reach out to potential investors to secure funding for any project identified in the feasibility study.
They would spend an estimated 10-12 months working with Yukon officials to raise money in a capital campaign, Shelton noted.
“It depends on what our goal is and how much, but they find the investors,” she said. “They do a lot of personal contact to investors.
“They keep saying there’s a lot of ‘hidden’ millionaires in Yukon. And I know there are some.”
Opportunity Funding could even reach beyond Yukon’s borders to seek investors in community projects. The company’s fee is about $20,000 monthly.
“Yes, they do make money,” Shelton pointed out. “But they’re bringing money in that we probably wouldn’t have if we didn’t use them.”
The Yukon Chamber would work with the non-profit to administer funds raised through the capital campaign and help oversee the project(s).
Opportunity Funding “has a 98% success rate meeting the fund-raising goals set by communities they’ve worked with,” Shelton said.
“I’m very impressed with them.”