Fundraising & Accountability
Important Update: February 8, 2015
We have been working on this project since 2006. Personally, after years of calling and writing, I have been able to get only one small, local newspaper in Mt. Pleasant, SC to do a story on this project. Senator Bob Dole wrote me and said what an ‘arduous task’ it was raising funds for the WWII Memorial. I can now understand his counsel.
I was unable to get any interest in our local area. I talked to a CBS reporter who told me they weren’t interested. The woman said they might be after the memorial was built. I spoke to a reporter working for the News & Observer who was embedded with the troops on occasion in Afghanistan. He was interested in doing a story, but he told me his editor killed it.
I’ve contacted major news outlets across the USA. None were interested. I never heard a word from most of them. Plausible deniability no doubt. I never got a response from President Bush or President Obama either. I have now sixty-three pages of failed contacts. Some of the stories I can tell about selected attempts to contact celebrities and corporate leaders are almost unbelievable. It’s a book in itself.
Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec made an apropos comment the other night. One of the presenters said that he was going to contact specified large corporations regarding his product. Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary, had made this fellow an offer proposing a licensing avenue. Robert asked the fellow if he thought the presidents of those corporations would ever call him back. He went on to say that Mr. Wonderful would get the call back, but he would not. Mr. Wonderful is rich and famous. The product promoter was not. He would never be able to get through. That was the point Mr. Herjavec was making. I’m that unknown person. My results were accurately predicted.
One more point I would like to make as it relates to our efforts. A group of men planned to build a memorial honoring all branches of the service. The location was Cary, NC, an affluent city next to Raleigh, NC where I am located. A distinguished, retired Navy Admiral headed this group. One of our local billionaires donated the land; I believe it was eleven acres. They were successful getting coverage about their idea in the News & Observer. If I recall correctly, they attempted to raise funds for four years or so. The most I can recall seeing placed on the land was a sign indicating it was the future site of a memorial. They were not successful and returned the land. They had a larger board with very influential members. They, as did we, anticipated a different result because they were attempting to honor our military men and women.
One thing I have learned over the years is that the working man will support this memorial. I have participated in numerous street fairs. The average family attends these events to scout the vendors and enjoy the entertainment. I participate to gauge attendees interest, or lack there of, in this project. Invariably, I had men, women, and children placing money in our collection jar all day. The average person wants to see our military heroes honored. However, street fairs are no way to reach the masses. It’s no way to raise funds for a large scale project. It is a good way to identify your supporters.
Naturally, with absolutely no publicity, very few people have heard of this project. Unless one possesses large sums of capital, advertising is out of the question.
Optimally, we need a rich and famous person to help move this project forward, but we can’t reach them.
Believe me, we’ve tried. It’s a Catch 22, if you’re old enough to remember that movie. Maybe you know someone who can help.
What’s the old saying, if you keep on doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, you’re insane. Well, we can’t get many contributions if few people know about this project. That’s obvious. The media doesn’t care. That’s been proven time and time again.
So I’m changing direction. I’ve designed a new health care accessory that I am trying to get to market. I intend to use the net proceeds from sales for the memorial. If the product is successful, those funds will enable us to explore different fundraising options that can effectively target the masses. I have already run some concert ideas by producers.
Don’t shy away from making a contribution because this is a high dollar project. Remember, no realistically attainable project or goal ever fails unless you quit.
Fund Raising & Accountability
Funds raised will be used for all phases of this project including an endowed trust ($10 million) that will assure perpetual maintenance of the monument and grounds. The estimated cost for this project is $40 million.
A $10 million endowment is part of the estimated expenses. We will continue fund raising after the target amount is reached. More funds for the endowment it will enable us to better insure the perpetual care and maintenance of the memorial, grant scholarships to children of fallen heroes, and help the severely injured.
Based on project estimates, which have been painstakingly and repeatedly reviewed, our operating overhead (administrative costs + fund raising costs) is estimated to be 18.20%. Independent Charities of America states that operating overhead should not exceed 25% of total public support and revenue. That is a higher standard than required by the BBB Council on Philanthropy.
Funds will be deposited directly into the Freedom Memorials account at First Citizens Bank. A separate Endowment account will be established and managed by an independent financial officer. A CPA will conduct yearly audits when account deposits reach $250,000. 990 forms will always be available your review.
Reaching Our Funding Goal
Two questions that come up on occasion need to be addressed.
“Do you have a deadline for reaching your funding goal?”
No. We do not.
“What happens if you do not raise the necessary funds to build the memorial in its present configuration?”
We see three options.
- We can build a scaled down memorial.
- We can produce a stainless and granite plaque for each family of a fallen hero.
- We can donate the funds to another charity that has successfully been working with the families of fallen or wounded heroes.
Rest assured, all funds raised will be used appropriately even if we have to fall back to one of the contingency options.
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