Resource Development Group
Resource Developments
February 2009


If you are an Economic Development Organization or Chamber of Commerce with jurisdictional responsibility for economic development and are currently funded on a multi-year cycle that expires anytime during the next 36 months, take five minutes to read the following:


How long can we delay our next campaign to ensure that the economy is better when we start asking for financial support?

Corporate support for civic endeavors has been declining for fifteen years!  This trend is real.  In 2007, corporate America contributed over $1 billion LESS to civic organizations, including EDO's and Chambers, than it did in 1991.  The current economic situation is going to accelerate this trend but it didn't happen overnight.  But take note, corporate America hasn't stopped contributing; they have just stopped contributing to under- performing and non-performing civic endeavors!  

The current unemployment rate nationally is 7.6% and may be higher in some of your communities.  The latest predictions from the Federal Reserve state that unemployment will rise to over 8.5% later this year, and will peak at over 9% in the first quarter of 2010.  Furthermore, the Fed is forecasting an overall economic contraction of approximately 1% or more yet this year.  While many economists seem to believe that the economy will "pick up speed" in 2011, some Fed officials have said, "it could take five or six years for the economy and employment to get back into a sustainable mode of health."

So our question to you is, just exactly when do you think things are going to be better?  Furthermore, what are the risks of delaying your next capital campaign?



Over the past year, we have completed a number of successful funding campaigns but they have all required additional effort and time as broadening the funding base has become a crucial component of long-term viability.  Our prediction is the "top of the funding pyramid" will experience a net decline, requiring programs to attain a broader funding base that maximizes middle market potential.  This takes more time.  The longer you wait, the less time you have to change your funding model to build the right foundation for the future.



Crisis management is typically not optimal when it comes to funding your programs.  Some of the worst decisions are made when "backs are against the wall".  The longer you wait, the closer you get to "the wall". 



All campaigns need a little "margin for error".  Your largest investor can't do what they have done in the past; your government support is declining; your board chair resigns.  All kinds of unanticipated things can occur in the midst of an effort to re-capitalize your program.  The best laid plans include contingencies for dealing with these unintended consequences but with less time to complete the process, and a smaller "margin for error", the risk of mistakes that could lead to long term damage to your program escalates.



All of your investors would like to go "year-to-year", instead of making a multi-year commitment.  Imagine what this would do to your program and your life.  No longer can you count on a fully funded budget as long as you are meeting expectations and communicating with your investors.  Instead, you will need to dedicate 50% or more of your time to generating revenue to sustain your budget.  Is that what your investors are paying you to do?   No!!  They want you out growing jobs and generating economic investment in your communities. 
  All it takes is one extension----one year of "can you extend your current commitment for one more year and we will conduct the campaign next year when the economy is better" to break the cycle of multi-year support.  I can hear your investors now ---- "if we did it last year, why can't we just do it again this year"?  And before you know it your back on the treadmill, spending the majority of your time chasing dollars and not having enough time to devote to economic development and long-term strategic planning. 


There will never be a better time to "make the case" for your program.   Don't miss this opportunity.  Will it be the hardest campaign you have ever completed?   Probably.  But funding your program has never been more important.  Do you really want to send the message to your investors, constituents and community that what you do is not so important that we can't put it off until next year? 

Economic development is all about leadership---Now more than ever, we need to Lead the effort to generate jobs and capital investment; Lead for positive change in your community or region; Lead when others only want to follow.  Leadership has never been more important than now.   Don't be afraid to Lead! 
















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