Lenape Valley Foundation (LVF) has provided the people of Bucks County with excellent mental and behavioral health services since 1958. Nearly 10,000 children and adults are served by LVF each year in program locations throughout the county. These essential human services improve—and even save—lives. In fact, as noted on the Foundation’s website, one out of four people will experience conditions in their lifetime that require the types of services LVF provides.
Many people initially access LVF’s services when they reach a point of crisis; that is, when immediate action is necessary because someone is at serious risk of such catastrophic behavior as self-injury, suicide or harming others. On average each month in 2016, more than 600 people were seeking assistance from LVF’s Crisis Service—a number that represents 85% of all crisis services delivered in Bucks County. Those helped might include: women enduring postpartum depression; returning veterans who have experienced trauma; elders with depression who have stopped taking nourishment. The number of people contacting LVF with a mental health crisis was doubling every two years.
Unfortunately, Bucks County lacked a crisis residential program that could provide short-term housing to patients while they received help to resolve crises and become stabilized. Because of its expertise in crisis and residential services, Lenape Valley Foundation was approached to build such a facility. The county was willing to allocate funds toward the $4+ million in estimated costs, but that left a multi-million-dollar financial gap which LVF needed to fill. The organization knew that it had to mount a capital campaign.
Addressing the Need to Expand Philanthropy
Lenape Valley Foundation (LVF), a provider of mental and behavioral health services to its community, depended on fee for-service revenue and was in need of expanding its fundraising capacity, especially to support the planning and building of a new Crisis Residential Center..
Pushing for Transformation
For three years, Schultz & Williams partnered with LVF to raise vitally important funds for its crisis center and, at the same time, introduced a full-fledged ongoing development program that will continue to grow and support the organization for many years to come.
Creating a Win/Win
Once LVF achieved its fundraising goal for the crisis center and hired an experienced director of advancement, the Foundation used this process to develop a culture of philanthropy, recruiting and encouraging members of its community to continue supporting this vital asset.
Like many social service providers, LVF largely depended on fee for-service revenue from county and local governments and from insurance providers in order to fund their annual operations. Ongoing fundraising activity, coordinated by a part-time staff member, consisted of a successful golf tournament and an annual appeal letter. LVF’s internal fundraising culture did not include seeking philanthropic funds from individuals, nor was the community accustomed to considering LVF as a philanthropic choice.
To compound the challenge, the organization planned to build the new Crisis Residential Center – to be called The Lodge at Lenape Valley Foundation – in an area removed from where LVF had the highest profile and the most capable potential supporters. LVF’s professional leadership recognized how important it was to develop a solid base of community support in order to move a well-managed, fiscally stable organization into the future.
S&W partnered with LVF over nearly three years, not only to raise vitally important funds for The Lodge at Lenape Valley Foundation, but also to introduce a full-fledged ongoing development program that would continue after the campaign is completed. We also conducted a campaign planning study that reinforced the need to begin with a relatively modest fundraising goal, coupled with active prospect and community outreach. Extremely dedicated campaign co-chairs stepped up with a challenge to the LVF Board to make building philanthropic support an organizational priority. Serving as campaign staff and counsel S&W also assisted in recruiting an experienced director of advancement for the organization.
After reaching its initial goal to raise $500,000 toward this project, including support from its new neighborhood, the Lodge opened in the summer of 2017. Lenape Valley Foundation has also used this process to develop an awareness among the members of its community that they can play a role in ensuring the health and well-being of their families through support of this vital community asset. And inside the organization, staff and Board have a new level of confidence about their ability to motivate needed philanthropic support.