blooming flowers and walking paths in front of building
February 3, 2022
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Friends have embarked on ambitious $1,000,000 fundraising campaign

A new nature center is getting built at Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo, and the Friends of Oxbow is rallying support to enhance the nature center experience once it’s constructed. Since the ’80s, Friends of Oxbow has been supporting the park’s educational, environmental, and recreational goals. From trail development and nature playscape construction to funding interns and designing exhibits, this friend group has truly made an impact on the Oxbow Park experience.

nature center under constructionBuilt on that solid foundation of support, the Friends of Oxbow decided to show up for the new nature center development in a big way by doing something they have never done before—a $1,000,000 fundraising campaign! These funds will go towards interpretive exhibits, educational technology aids, and native plantings outside.

So, how is this group approaching raising $1,000,000 when they haven’t done something like this before? Well, they have tried to break down the process into smaller, achievable pieces, including creating three committees focused on this effort.

The first committee is the Capital Fund committee. This group is in charge of approaching big donors. They use a donor management software to maintain a database record for potential donors, meetings, asks, and contributions. This helps them understand who is approaching which donor and how much they’ve already raised towards their goal.

rendering of exhibits in nature center

The second committee is the Communications committee. This group is tasked with sharing the story and getting folks excited about the project (and the park in general). They schedule regular social media postings. They created donor cards, pamphlets, business cards, and other materials to assist in illustrating the project and showing its impact to potential donors.

The third committee is the Recognition committee. They are tasked with developing a plan for how to recognize donors. This includes sending thank you letters after contributions come in. They are also planning to have a creative recognition wall at the nature center, which includes different imprints depending on contribution size and a scrolling screen displaying smaller contributions.

sample valentine with cuddling bobcatsWhile the group’s focus and energy has turned towards this fundraising campaign, they still are managing to carry out other activities.

  • Sponsoring internships: Each year, the friends group funds a number of summer and winter internships.
  • Virtual valentines: Anyone can purchase a virtual valentine—featuring bobcats, wolves, or prairie dogs—to share with a loved one while also supporting Friends of Oxbow.
  • Digitizing organizational systems: Board members are working to centralize their documents and data into a more streamlined and digital system, such as storing meeting minutes on Google drive.

This group is excited for all that is happening at the park, and they will be there supporting the efforts to improve the educational, environmental, and recreational goals every step of the way.

Content contributed by: Seanne Buckwalter, President, Friends of Oxbow

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