Author: Len Moisan

Evansville Catholic Interparochial High Schools, Evansville, IN

Evansville Catholic Interparochial High Schools (ECIHS) faced a challenge.  A capital campaign completed in the late 1990’s, had allowed the two high schools (Memorial and Mater Dei) to make some much needed renovations at both campuses as well as build a gymnasium and an auditorium.  However, the total cost to complete the projects exceeded the funds raised leaving the organization with some unplanned debt.

By 2005, the need for debt reduction in addition to some new and costly repairs necessary at both campuses caused the schools’ administration to consider another campaign.  Although the funds were essential, they knew projects like debt reduction, new boilers, paving parking lots, etc. would make it difficult to evoke passion and support from donors.  That’s when they called on The Covenant Group for assistance.

Andy Goebel, Campaign Co-Chair recalls, “The Covenant Group’s services were extremely valuable.  They helped us determine some other projects to add to the campaign to allow people to feel more connected to it.  They helped us develop a case statement to tell our story, assisted with our marketing materials, and laid out an efficient volunteer structure.”  He continued, “The Covenant Group’s approach is a tried and proven process which offers structure, guidance, training, motivation, positive thinking and, when needed, cheerleading.”

Sarah Wagner, Director of Development, added, “They did a great job of keeping us on task.  We had a 64 member campaign advisory committee.  The Covenant Group’s experience really helped us keep all of the meetings organized.  They created action items for each member to clearly define what each person would be accountable to accomplish.”

Goebel points to The Covenant Group’s track record as a factor that separates them from other firms.  “They just don’t fail.  We checked their references and each one was a positive indicator that The Covenant Group could help us achieve the results we desired.”  Wagner noted that in her past experience with other consultants, “you sometimes get the feeling that you’re on the clock.  I never felt that way with The Covenant Group.  They are so accessible.  I still call on them for help and guidance.”

To date, ECIHS has achieved their campaign goal of $6.5 million.  One concern of the leadership team was the effect a capital campaign would have on other fundraising activities such as annual fund drives, financial aid and other special events.  They assumed that conducting a capital campaign would draw funds away from these other efforts.  Surprisingly, Goebel reports that the exact opposite happened.  “The increased awareness created by the campaign actually helped us raise more money in these other avenues; fundraising for special events alone increased by more than 50% last year.”  Wagner is quick to echo his comments.  “Fiscal year 2006 – 2007 was our largest fundraising year ever in terms of both dollars raised and attendance at all events.”

Equally impressive is the effect that the campaign has had on participants throughout both school communities.  “The feedback has been very positive,” said Wagner.  “The Covenant Group showed us creative options that allowed people to give in ways that best met their individual needs so that everyone could get involved.”  Both highly recommend The Covenant Group to other organizations seeking counsel.  Wagner states, “The Covenant Group is able to empathize with the challenges that accompany the capital campaign process.  Yet, they offer positive suggestions on how to creatively attack and overcome them.”  Goebel concludes, “If you hire The Covenant Group it is in your best interest to follow their advice and recommendations.”

Decorative Components Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan

Decorative Components Inc., a manufacturing company based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, researched many companies before choosing The Covenant Group to help them in creating new marketing materials.  “We have used The Covenant Group in the past for several studies,” explained David Breslin of DCI.  “We have always been pleased with their work, so they were a definite candidate for this project as well.  We just wanted to do our research and find the best value available.”  After pricing several other options, DCI realized that The Covenant Group was the obvious choice.  “They were half the price of anyone else in their market and their quality was outstanding,” Breslin said.  “The Covenant Group is very competitive.  We received excellent, top-notch products and spent half of what we would have elsewhere.”

The Covenant Group produced a comprehensive marketing package that includes brochures, fact sheets, mailers, and a website for DCI.  “I am very pleased with the materials as far as their appeal and usability,” Breslin said.  “The products have not only met my expectations, they have actually exceeded them.”  Soon after The Covenant Group implemented DCI’s website, Breslin found a potential buyer.  “We had a hit on our website from a company out of Michigan,” Breslin explained.  “I followed up with them the very next day and scheduled an appointment for the following week.  I met with the buyer, received samples and prints of parts to quote, and eventually this company offered $1.5 million worth of business to us!  Now this is what we intended to happen when we asked them to design our website.  Without it, we would never have had this opportunity.”

Breslin mentioned that The Covenant Group’s organization, responsiveness and integrity helped to make this process easier for them.  “The Covenant Group did everything they were supposed to do,” Breslin said.  “Dr. Moisan is true to his word.  If ever I needed something from him, he followed through for me immediately.  In today’s business world, it’s hard to find that kind of accountability.”

Breslin also noted that he would happily use The Covenant Group again, “I couldn’t find a reason not to use them for future projects.  We are very pleased with the products and service we received.  We are happy with what we had to pay for them, and we couldn’t ask for better results.  Overall, it was a slam dunk deal.”

Cincinnati Bible College, Cincinnati, OH

“We knew we needed to do a capital campaign, we just weren’t sure if we were organized and prepared to pull it off.”  These are the words of Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary President, Dr. David Grubbs.  “We contacted The Covenant Group to help us carry out an internal audit to see if we were organized effectively to handle the campaign.  Dr. Len Moisan reviewed many things including our policies, our organizational structure, and even our business software.  He helped us identify weaknesses that would likely cause us difficulty if we embarked on a campaign as we were structured.”

To have a successful capital campaign it is important to be willing to take an inventory of your current practices and structure, identify needs and areas of potential inefficiency and then be willing to take action to address those issues.  You must plan effectively before striking out.  Dr. Grubbs was aware of this, and that is why he sought the counsel of The Covenant Group.

“Dr. Moisan was right on the point.  He was right in everything he pointed out.  In every area possible, we reorganized according to his counsel.  We saw the benefits of this as we embarked, and we even saw some of the pain that can be caused when you are unable to make the necessary changes.  He understood why we were running the campaign internally, and worked with us to set the proper foundation.”

Capital campaign consulting is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  The Covenant Group can provide specific advice that is sensitive to the unique needs of your organization.  We do not use a cookie-cutter approach.

“I would use Len again for consultation, and I’ve recommended him to many of my colleagues.  He handled our information and internal issues professionally and carefully and we avoided many mistakes by implementing his advice.  Ultimately, we received very good advice – it was money and time well invested.”


Internal audit prepared CBCS to embark on an internally managed campaign

Money and time invested helped to “avoid pitfalls”

Cabbage Patch Settlement House, Louisville, KY

The Cabbage Patch Settlement House is a Christian service ministry that has focused on the needs of inner-city children and families since it’s founding in 1910.  Almost 60% of the children in the program live in poverty and are at high risk for teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse and continued poverty.  The Cabbage Patch leadership team realized that continued success would be dependent upon their ability to think strategically about the future of the ministry.  The Covenant Group was able to help The Cabbage Patch develop a strong strategic plan and conduct a feasibility study.  In addition, The Covenant Group provided capital campaign consulting and management services.

“I really supported Dr. Moisan’s involvement in our strategic planning process because his approach encouraged ‘staff-based support with board buy-in,’ and I felt that was important given what we were trying to achieve,” stated Jennifer Scott, Director of Administration & Development.  “Len really broke down barriers and understood what our staff was struggling with.  At the same time, he was able to relate to our board – to inspire them.  He was effective in getting a plan developed that gave us a clear sense of direction – so effective, that we decided to use him for our next two projects, the feasibility study and the capital campaign.”

Ms. Scott continued, “Len did not use a cookie-cutter approach.  He focused on our specific needs and situation.  He helped alleviate the volunteers’ fears with regard to fundraising, he pushed our board’s boundaries, developed them by elevating their sights, and always responded within the framework of the direction we were giving him.  His thinking was highly strategic.”

The Cabbage Patch is a stronger ministry today because of The Covenant Group’s involvement.  Mr. Tracy Holladay, Executive Director, related, “My sense is that Len has a strong appreciation for our ministry, and it showed in his work.  I would recommend The Covenant Group; our money was well-spent.”


Developed a strong, coherent strategic plan

Organized campaign, engaged the Board and helped manage campaign process

The Cabbage Patch has achieved their $4.5 million goal

Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Kentuckiana, Louisville, KY

“When Big Brothers Big Sisters came to The Covenant Group for help, we had a specific need,” Vice President Cathy Sullivan said.  The Facilities at Big Brothers Big Sisters were too small and the Board and staff were planning to relocate their offices.  Before undertaking such an effort they wanted to know if it was feasible.  “We asked the Covenant Group to conduct a feasibility study with the hopes that we might plan appropriately and set a reasonable financial goal for our capital campaign,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan is pleased with the work the Covenant Group did for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the expertise and objectivity reflected in it.  “They definitely gave us a balanced report,” she said.  “What it told us was not all positive; it was realistic and very detailed.  It also gave us a plan of what we need to do to reach our capital campaign goals.  I am pleased with The Covenant Group’s report; it was an accurate analysis of our agency’s operations.”

Dr. Moisan and his team recommended that Big Brothers Big Sisters complete several tasks before moving forward in their campaign.  “We have been evaluating all kinds of donor database software.  We have hired a part time grant writer, and we are looking at properties for our new locations.  Keeping with the revised plan and goals that the Covenant Group developed for us, we are effectively positioning ourselves to raise $3 to $4 million,” Sullivan said

The Big Brothers Big Sisters staff also believed The Covenant Group approach and reputation would help their organization make a positive impression on leaders in the community.  “I believed our credibility would be enhanced by having Len work for us,” Sullivan said.  “The Covenant Group is viewed very favorably by the members of the community.  People already have a positive image of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I believe Len and his team have only helped to improve this image.”

Sullivan is anxious to work with The Covenant Group in the future.  “I would definitely use them again, and recommend them to other organizations,” she said.  “In fact, I am planning to do so.”

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Clermont, KY

Over its sprawling 14,000 acres, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest boasts a nationally recognized arboretum, beautiful gardens, nature centers and 30 miles of hiking trails.  This natural preserve, originally gifted to the state in 1929, needed to address some issues.

Mike Nolan, Development Director, said, “We conducted some visitor surveys, and they revealed that we had some issues to face.”  Issues such as improved visitor navigation, new outdoor exhibits, new educational facilities as well as research partnerships with local universities all needed to be addressed.

“We hired The Covenant Group to do a feasibility study as well as get us through the quiet phase of a fundraising campaign,” Mr. Nolan said.  “We were trying to get a handle on what a feasible goal for fundraising might be.  Of course, we had our dream list of everything we would like to do, and Dr. Moisan helped us focus our efforts to maximize the effectiveness of this campaign.”

Mr. Nolan continued, “Len gathered very useful data from the community.  He spoke with foundation directors, potential donors, even CEO’s of local corporations.  He provided us with a confidential report based on his findings that helped us clearly identify the issues that we needed to address.  And he did all this very quickly, in less than six weeks.”

“The Covenant Group then helped us begin the campaign by organizing a board campaign to jump-start the giving.  One of the key things that Len heard from people was that their giving would be dependent upon how involved our board members were in the initial giving.  So, Len helped us set a goal of $1.25 million in board donations.  Through his efforts, we have received 100% involvement from our board!  Over $1.3 million has already been donated, and I believe we’ll hit $1.4 before we’re done.  Len really got us off to a good start.”


Provided accurate feasibility study

Clearly identified key development issues

Exceeded board giving goal

Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Louisville, KY

For more than five years the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church community had been planning to move to a new location.  The congregation needed more space for worship, education and activities.  Their plan was to build a new worship center and multi-purpose facility in a new location.  They finally found a three-acre piece of property with an older church on it that was for sale.  The answer for this small congregation of about 70 families was simple; they would buy the land, renovate the church and then build a family activities center.

In January of 2004 church leaders negotiated and signed a 90-day contract, contingent upon conducting a successful fundraising campaign.  That campaign would have to generate between $400,000 – $500,000 to make the full vision a reality, a big task for this small congregation.

According to campaign chairman, Greg Fischer, the Assumption Church had “no history of extraordinary stewardship.  This simply was not a group of people sophisticated about fundraising.  We needed help, encouragement and validation.”  That’s when Mr. Fischer called on Bill Rothwell and The Covenant Group for help.

Bill developed a campaign plan, met with leaders, and then facilitated strategy and training sessions.  According to Mr. Fischer, Bill Rothwell exceeded their expectations:  “Bill was perfect for what the group needed.  He built enthusiasm and made them believe they could do this.  He was very helpful.”  At the time Mr. Fischer was interviewed … just six weeks into the campaign, they had already achieved 136 percent of their goal.

The Goal:  $500,000

The Result:  After six weeks the church had already raised $680,000 with great potential for more.

Fundraising 101 - Lesson 1: 5 Principles Necessary for a Successful Campaign

For the past 19 years we at the Covenant Group have helped hundreds of churches, schools and other nonprofit organizations plan and implement successful fundraising campaigns. In fact, most of the organizations we have helped have been quite successful (about 97% averaging 145% of goal). Often people ask us what it takes to have a successful campaign. While the times have changed since we first started our business, the basic principles of fundraising have not.

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Sisters of St. Benedict, Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Beech Grove, IN

The Sisters of St. Benedict had just completed an audit conducted by the National Religious Retirement Organization (NRRO).  The original premise was to determine the funding needs to care for the growing number of retiring sisters.  However, the report also revealed an immediate need to renovate and reconfigure the healthcare space in the monastery to make it more elder friendly for our sisters.

In addition to the NRRO report, we knew that St. Paul Hermitage, home to 105 senior adults, needed facility improvements to meet the ever-changing needs of a rapidly growing elder population. The sisters knew that raising that kind of funding would require some external assistance so they called The Covenant Group.

To that end, a feasibility study was conducted and the results indicated support for a campaign goal of $6.9 million.  The sisters set the basic needs goal at $3 million to establish a charitable trust to ensure care for our Senior Sisters. A visionary needs goal of $3.9 million was set to provide funding for the renovations at the both the Monastery and the Hermitage.  Sister Mary Luke Jones, Director of Mission Advancement stated, “The feasibility study gave the sisters the courage to move forward with a capital campaign. We felt it gave us solid grounds to launch this major effort.”

The Covenant Group partnered with the sisters by training their Board and Steering Committee members in making face-to-face solicitations.  This training became crucial as the real work of the campaign got underway.  The sisters did not expect the campaign to be easy.  “We conducted our last campaign in 2003”, recalled Sister Mary Luke.  “My theme for that campaign was Lower and Slower…meaning the gifts came in lower than anticipated and took longer to realize.”

When asked if the results of this campaign have been surprising, Sister stated, “One major donor in particular has been quite a blessing.” However, she is quick to point out that every gift no matter the size is appreciated. She adds, “A campaign is a great time for us to make new friends.  People are supporting us at varying levels and helping us continue to do what we do. Every gift from $1 to $1 million is appreciated.”

Just over two years into the campaign, the sisters have less than $1 million left to raise. “We are at $5.9 million today” Sister Mary Luke reported. “We have been able to fund the Charitable Trust.  Also, we are working with the architects now and preparing to begin the renovations as soon as the campaign is complete.” When comparing the consulting styles of the firms she has worked with, she notes The Covenant Group’s “kinder and gentler approach.” She adds, “Joe and Len make sure we get the job done. They keep us organized and on task, they spur us on so things don’t get missed.” However, she is grateful that unlike some consultants with a more aggressive style they are “charming, helpful and forgiving.” She continued, “The Covenant Group is positive, easy to work with, and they genuinely want to see their clients be successful.  Of course I would recommend them to other nonprofits seeking counsel…in fact, I already have.”

Lincoln Christian College & Seminary, Lincoln, IL

For more than 55 years, Lincoln Christian College & Seminary has been preparing preachers for service in the world.  According to President, Dr. Keith Ray, even though the faculty and staff are working with a new generation, the original mission has not changed.  It is with great vision, energy and a passion for excellence that Dr. Ray leads Lincoln today.  That vision led him to begin planning to renovate campus facilities and build some long needed new ones.

To achieve this vision, Dr. Ray has led Lincoln through a capital campaign that was successfully launched with counsel from The Covenant Group.  We encouraged Lincoln to begin their campaign with a strong, clear call to leadership, and they have responded.  “One of the most important things that Dr. Moisan and his team brought to us was a creative energy about the whole consulting role.  I did not feel like we were a routine, boilerplate customer.  Rather, I felt that Dr. Moisan really strove to understand our culture and provided a passion for excellence in every aspect of our relationship.”

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