By Conrad Dudderar
The City of Yukon will partially fund a feasibility study for a proposed capital resources campaign.
The Yukon City Council, at its Feb. 21st meeting, approved contributing $10,000 toward the $30,000 cost for the study to be conducted by Opportunity Funding LLC.
“I’m a strong believer in private-public partnerships and relationships,” Ward 4 City Council Member Aric Gilliland said.
The council voted 5-0 to cover one-third of the cost for the feasibility study.
The Yukon Chamber of Commerce would pay another $10,000 with individual supporters contributing the other $10,000, according to Yukon Chamber CEO Pam Shelton.
The feasibility analysis and goal assessment – conducted over 45-60 days – will determine whether Yukon is an appropriate place to launch a large capital campaign.
A downtown arena, a farmers’ market and an event venue at Yukon’s Best grain elevators have been suggested as possible projects.
“We’ll know more after the feasibility study,” Shelton told city council members.
The Yukon City Council heard a presentation from Opportunity Funding’s principals, Jerry Hinson and Doug Kinsinger, during a discussion via Zoom videoconferencing during its Feb. 21st work session.
“What is the next initiative that the Yukon community would like to undertake?” Hinson said. “The feasibility study would put forth those potential initiatives and let those individuals weigh in on that.”
The process will help identity possible investors who could fund a project or projects.
In-person and virtual interviews will be conducted with up to 60 targeted stakeholders and prospective investors.
“A stakeholder is anyone who has an economic interest or perceived interest in the well-being of the community,” Hinson noted.
Opportunity Funding’s team will analyze the interviewee responses, looking for trends and then summarize the valuable feedback into a thorough findings report.
After the study, they may recommend a campaign goal for Yukon.
Opportunity Funding 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 also provides strategic planning, economic development planning and organizational development.
“We take the feasibility study and implement that, and we work with you to do that,” Hinson said.
Opportunity Funding’s principals have known Shelton for many years and expressed appreciation for the passion she has for Yukon.
“Opportunity Funding is a Midwestern-based firm supporting community and economic development,” Hinson told Yukon city officials.
“We develop consensus for the best possible plan. We raise the resources to implement the plan. And we provide support during the implementation period.”
CONSENSUS IS CRITICAL
Opportunity Funding has raised more than $60 million over 10 years for more than 40 clients in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
The company excels at listening and developing consensus, Kinsinger added.
“Each of us may think we know the desire of our constituency, or our membership or the community,” he said. “The key thing in the feasibility study is having those confidential, one-on-one interviews.
“When you have a confidential interview, we see a much higher level of openness and honesty.”
For the 8,807-population city of Poteau, Opportunity Funding raised $1.4 million to build a new public library and more.
“Their city didn’t have the money, so they went through this company and were able to provide that for their community,” Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby said.
If a Yukon capital campaign is recommended through the upcoming feasibility study, Opportunity Funding representatives would reach out to potential investors to secure project funding.
They would spend an estimated 8-9 months raising money – even reaching beyond Yukon’s borders to seek investors in community projects.
“We use a midwestern approach that is customized to your community,” Hinson explained. “We’ve worked with communities of all sizes.
“Many of our clients continue to call on us, time and time again.”
The Manhattan, Kan. Area Chamber of Commerce recently completed their fourth capital resources campaign led by Opportunity Funding. The campaigns have raised $2.3 million, $2.7 million, $3.3 million, and $3.3 million for this 53,467-population city.
PLEDGES COVER COST
In its history, Opportunity Funding has exceeded clients’ campaign goals by an average of 30%. Only two communities failed to reach their goals.
The company’s fee to conduct a capital campaign is $20,000 monthly.
“What our history has been, starting in about the fourth month, we will start making pledge requests and start receiving pledges in cash into the campaign,” Kinsinger explained. “We normally encourage a client to have about $100,000 (in “seed funding”) available to start a capital campaign.
“But in each instance for our last five clients, we’ve not only paid off the cost of the campaign – we’ve left the client with another $100,000-$300,000 in their bank account. Plus, they would have the revenue stream of pledges coming in (typically over the next five years).”
If Yukon has a capital campaign, Shelton emphasized the funds would be raised through a 501(c)3 non-profit – not the City of Yukon.
The Yukon Chamber of Commerce, however, is a 501(c)6 organization. Hinson and Kinsinger previously presented their proposal to the Yukon Chamber’s board.
One option is using the Yukon Community Support Foundation or another local non-profit to receive funding.
Ultimately, it will be up to a committee comprised of Yukon Chamber, City of Yukon and other local partners to decide the next step after the feasibility study is finished.
“You sometimes ask, ‘Is now the right time to proceed with a capital campaign?’,” Hinson said. “What we’ve learned in many campaigns in the last several years, if your plan addresses the needs and priorities of your stakeholders, they will fund it.”