Pines Group Shares South Station Fundraising Plan

Pines Group Shares South Station Fundraising Plan
The Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department's South Station is pictured. Photo by Bethany Hooper

OCEAN PINES – Discussion on fundraising efforts and timelines related to the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department South Station project highlighted last week’s meeting of the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors.

Last Saturday, General Manager John Viola and representatives of the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department (OPVFD) workgroup presented board members with an update on the South Station capital campaign. As the department looks to construct a new firehouse, a workgroup has been established to kickstart fundraising efforts.

“We recommended a fundraising program to bridge the gap to fund a new building,” Viola said. “We received endorsement from the board on July 27 to move forward and form a workgroup with individuals who I believe are professional and constructive, including OPVFD. One of the objectives was to hire an individual or firm with knowledge of this area with a proven track record of fundraising.”

During last week’s presentation, workgroup leader Ted Moroney said team members had three goals: to develop and execute a fundraising plan; examine location options, construction plans and department needs; and present a framework to the OPA and OPVFD boards.

“All we are talking about today is task one,” he said.

This fall, the workgroup issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking consultants for the creation of a feasibility study that would be used to launch a capital fundraising campaign. And in the weeks since, the group has received six proposals, with prices ranging from $28,000 to $60,000.

Moroney, however, told board members that the workgroup has changed course. He said the group is now looking to hire a local fundraising expert.

“Our in-depth review indicated an alternate path to success, and we requested a formal proposal from a respected fundraiser who has raised millions of dollars for the Salisbury Zoo and Delmarva Discovery Museum,” he explained.

The workgroup, Moroney added, is also exploring a three-pronged fundraising approach. The first prong, he said, would involve finding key donors, with a portion of funds raised dedicated to paying the fundraising consultant.

“Firm fees are typically 10% of the amount you expect to raise with no guarantee of success …,” he explained. “We will pay 8% of the amount actually collected and in the bank.”

Moroney said the second prong would involve seeking grant funds. While the OPVFD currently has $1.7 million in state funding, the workgroup has entered into an agreement with a local grant writer to find additional grant money.

“That report and the next phase of decision making should be completed no later than the end of this month,” he said.

The third and final prong, Moroney told board members, would involve community fundraising events, such as bake sales, silent auctions and fundraiser runs.

“From our status as a workgroup, this is the part that is a little nebulous because this requires community volunteers to help with the organization and execution of a community-based fundraising effort,” he said.

Officials told board members each of the three fundraising phases were expected to begin in January.

“OPA and OPVFD will continue to jointly partner through the execution of this fundraising program,” Moroney said.

While last week’s presentation focused on the fundraising aspects of the South Station project, Director Stuart Lakernick questioned the potential location of the new firehouse.

“I know at the beginning you talked about location,” he said. “Are we looking to move the firehouse to a different spot?”

Viola noted that all options were being explored.

“Obviously we are looking at all options,” he said. “When it comes time for the building, we will present that. But not necessarily.”

Association President Doug Parks questioned the association’s working relationship with the grant writer.

“As far as the grant writer, do you see that as a one-time event, or will that individual continue to work with the association as this project moves forward?” he said.

Officials noted the grant writer would continue to work with OPA.

“I think this is the beginning of a long-term relationship …,” Moroney replied. “We’re not a municipality, and that does have an impact on what grants we are eligible for across state and federal.”

When asked if the workgroup had an estimate for how much money could be raised through the capital campaign, Moroney said it did not.

“Because we don’t have the history, we don’t have the analytics you would have if you were at a college, for instance …,” he explained. “We don’t know what they can raise through this.”

Earlier this year, OPVFD leaders held a town hall meeting to discuss proposed South Station renovations, and the funding needed to make the project a reality.

Officials are proposing an $8.6 million renovation that calls for a demolition of the station’s living and administrative quarters, the addition of a two-story building, and a new bay. With $1.7 million in state funding and $1 million in department reserve, the department and association are now seeking community support to fund the remaining costs.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.