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MINUTES

FUNDRAISING AND PROMTION COMMITTEE
Chronology of Committee Activities

Background: From the issuance of the contract with Charles H. Bentz Associates, Inc. until the March 25, 2002 meeting noted below, the Bentz team has been working to complete Phase I of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission's Fundraising Campaign. To review activities prior to those listed below, please click here.

March 25, 2002: Arnie Olsen and Clint Blackwood met with Sara Groves, Jay Russell (from the Montana History Foundation), Marcia Staigmiller, Art Neill, Bill Bronson and Jane Weber (representing the general interests and goals of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Foundation), and Chuck Bentz (Charles Bentz Associates).

We met briefly to discuss the option of combining the fundraising efforts of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Foundation and the Montana Bicentennial Commission. Following introductions and brief overviews it was quickly agreed that a combined fundraising campaign would, at least in theory, be a good idea. It was agreed to move forward in exploring how such a combined program would work. The necessity to move forward quickly was stressed as both campaigns are about to be launched and time is short as the Bicentennial is approaching.

The group also discussed whether two other "major" Lewis & Clark fundraising efforts ought to also be included, those being the Pompeys Pillar Visitor Center campaign and the pending Travelers' Rest effort. It was agreed that both groups ought to be contacted and invited to join future fundraising partnership discussions.

Chuck Bentz stressed from his professional fundraising perspective that it was imperative that "one" Lewis & Clark fundraising program be formalized and launched. Numerous campaigns would tend to compete and would almost certainly create confusion amongst the potential 'funder pool.'

It was agreed that Clint Blackwood would contact the state Commission's Fundraising Committee to gain their concurrence to partcipate in future partnership discussions, and to reach out to the Pompeys Pillar and Travelers' Rest groups to invite their participation.

March 27, 2002: The Fundraising & Promotions Committee met via conference call at 11:00 a.m. Due to the short notice for the call, Arnie Olsen, Darrell Kipp and Clint Blackwood represented the committee. Sara Groves was also in attendance. Chuck Bentz was unable to participate in the call, but joined Sara Groves and Clint Blackwood immediately following the call to discuss appropriate 'next steps.'

The discussion was very short and to the point. There was unanimous concurrence to have the state Commission continue with fundraising partnership discussions. Clint Blackwood was changed to immediately start working with Sara Groves, Jay Russell, and representatives from the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Foundation and Chuck Bentz to craft a plan and a process outlining how a combined fundraising program could be crafted and implemented. Mr. Blackwood would also extend invitations to the Pompeys Pillar and Travelers' Rest groups. A planning meeting of the above groups would be held hopefully within the next week to 10 days. Following this planning meeting, an expanded meeting would be called of the group representatives to arrive at a final "go/no go" decision (this expanded meeting would include the full Fundraising Committee, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Foundation, and the Pompeys Pillar and Travelers' Rest groups. This larger group would review and discuss the "plan and process" to come from the planning group's efforts).

Mr. Blackwood agreed to keep the Fundraising Committee apprised of the progress of the proposed planning meeting, and of the scheduling of the subsequent expanded meeting of the fundraising groups.

April 18, 2002: This impromptu breakfast meeting took place in West Yellowstone as all but one of the committee members were attending the annual Governor's Travel & Tourism Conference. Committee members attending were Arnie Olsen, Doug Monger, Jim Parker, Homer Staves and Clint Blackwood. Darrell Kipp was not in attendance. Additional Commission members joining the meeting were Darrell Martin and Jack Lepley.

This meeting was especially timely since Sara Groves and Clint Blackwood had just two days prior met with representatives from Pompeys Pillar, Travelers' Rest and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center Foundation to further discuss the merits of combining their respective fundraising campaign efforts. During this meeting, committee members voiced unanimous support for pursuing a combined campaign approach and identified numerous question areas that would result from such a campaign (i.e., how would campaign expenses and raised funds be shared?). The meeting concluded with the committee voicing its strong support for Mr. Blackwood to move forward appropriately on behalf of the Commission to express the Commission's "vote" to join a combined campaign, realizing that many questions were as yet unanswered in detail. Doug Monger and Jack Lepley, two members of the Commission's Executive Committee, further voiced their support for the Fundraising & Promotions Committee to be empowered to commit the full Commission to the proposed combined campaign concept, realizing that the full Commission would be presented with the committee's recommendation for approval at the upcoming June 18 Commission meeting.

NOTE: Following the April 18th meeting of the Fundraising & Promotions Committee, Mr. Blackwood called and brought Darrell Kipp and Betty Stone (the remaining two current Executive Committee members) up to date regarding the proposal to have the Commission join a combined fundraising campaign. Darrell Kipp agreed with empowering the committee to commit the Commission to such a campaign; Betty Stone expressed concern based on unanswered questions regarding the Commission's potential for financial liability, and voted not to empower the committee to commit the Commission.

April 30, 2002: A conference call of the Fundraising & Promotions Committee was held to again present an update prior to expressing the Commission's commitment to join a combined fundraising campaign with Pompeys Pillar, Travelers' Rest and the Great Falls Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center Foundation. On the call were committee members Arnie Olsen, Homer Staves, Darrell Kipp and Clint Blackwood. Jim Parker and Doug Monger were unable to participate. Sara Groves also took part in the call.

Following an abbreviated review of the merits of joining a combined campaign effort, and a brief discussion of the Commission's potential for financial liability, the committee members again expressed unanimous support for partnering with the L&C groups highlighted above. It was noted that many questions could not be answered with certainty until the commitment was made to move forward and each group's funding objectives were clarified (this would most effectively be accomplished with the expertise and guidance of the Bentz planning team). Mr. Blackwood reported that each group was willing to contribute to campaign expenses according to their respective ability, and that un-restricted funds raised would be tapped in some yet-to-be-determined formula to cover (and/or to reimburse) campaign costs. It was mentioned that the Commission's new license plate sales afford a 'safety net' should the combined campaign not net the anticipated results. It was also agreed that time would tell what level of grant program the Commission might be able to offer in 2003. Following this meeting Mr. Blackwood agreed to work out the necessary details with the Montana History Foundation, and would relay the Commission's commitment to the identified partners and the Charles H. Bentz Associates firm.

April, 2002: During early April the committee was polled to determine if it made any sense to explore the options and feasibility of creating a limited merchandising program to feature the new Bicentennial license plate and possibly the Commission's "teepee/mountain" trademarked image. It was agreed that the Commission, in partnership with the Montana History Foundation, could at least develop a Request for Proposal (RFP), for distribution to known vendors and/or manufacturer representatives to see if interest did exist to develop such a program. Some committee members expressed caution as to the interest that may be demonstrated since so many private-sector Lewis & Clark products already exist on the market, and perhaps the Commission's two images may not promise enough marketing appeal to create a financial incentive for vendors. The committee did agree to have the Commission staff move forward with the RFP at its discretion, and to bring further updates and suggestions back to the committee prior to making a final decision to implement the proposed limited merchandising program.  

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