This is on top of substantial fundraising support in 2021. The Board of Visitors September event raised over $110,000 and our Fall Appeal netted nearly $40,000. This level of support from the Camp Mitchell community is unprecedented.
Special thanks to the many individuals and churches who have given generously. Of note, among others, are Trinity Pine Bluff and Trinity Little Rock for giving monthly. St. Paul’s Fayetteville developed a highly successful matched giving effort among its congregants. The Spring appeal letter and fundraiser, Mountain Lights, each netted over $15,000 in donations. (2) We have been able to diversify our giving streams, including Grants (St. Mark’s Mustard Seed, St. Michael’s Beyond Our Walls), non-church grants from Blue & You and Arkansas Interfaith.
- Diversify revenue streams at Camp. Progress: -
A key finding of the working group was the need to identify sustainable revenue streams outside of our peak summer season. We were severely hampered by (1) exceedingly poor state of physical plant resulting from the 2021 February freeze and years of deferred maintenance; (2) continued challenges from Covid-19, resulting in camps being postponed (Middler), consolidated (Robert R. Brown). In spite of this, we expect a total of 328 campers this year (up from 289 in 2019–reversing a decade-long slide in attendance). (3) Additional rental income from online property rental platform VRBO, direct rentals, and church/organization rentals had to be delayed until facilities are fully operational. (4) No new CM retreat programming yet scheduled, as the focus has been on Summer Camp.
Looking ahead, we have identified a $45,000-$50,000 budget gap in the back half of the year to meet our planned $77,129 net revenue goal. Under the leadership of our new Executive Director, Rebecca Roetzel (August start date), we think closing this gap is achievable through a combination of incremental programming, sustained emphasis on increased word of mouth and marketing, and facility rental.
- Manage Expenses Progress: +/-
Administrative expenses (non-personnel) are tracking at +10% over budget, driven by higher-than-expected maintenance outlays associated with the reopening of camp. We’ve also had much higher plumbing and wastewater management expenses, due to the near-failing state of the wastewater treatment facility. And inflation pressures and restart costs have affected our Food Service costs (+26% over budget). We expect these costs to even out throughout the year.
Personnel expenses are 16% below budget, driven by staff vacancies (Executive Director, Food Service, Groundskeeper), as well as increased reliance on volunteers for office and kitchen help among other roles. We have a flexible staff in place that is willing to pivot to tackle challenges as they arise. This flexibility will be key to manage costs in the coming months when revenue
- Implement strong financial controls. Progress: +
Under the leadership of board member Denise Chai and Kathy Schmeltz, our finance manager, and the patient and ongoing work of Mary Jane Hodges and Lou Stinnett, Camp successfully navigated a transition from ACS accounting software to Realm. This has allowed us to develop reporting that gives us earlier insight into potential fund challenges. To-date, we’ve been able to identify and implement aggressive expense management in the early weeks of Camp. It also highlighted a potential shortfall in non-designated revenue and, as a result, allows us to take early action to maintain cash flow. Overall, since taking control of our finances, we are able to know where every dollar is coming from and where it is going. This is an unprecedented level of financial control at the Camp. A link to our mid-year financial statements can be found here.
- Get the Word Out Progress +/-
The key driver to Camp’s sustainable operation is through growing our non-summer camp utilization. The principal barrier to this is, quite frankly, a lack of awareness. We’ve seen sustained growth in our social media engagement, especially with camp underway. We have launched a camp store this week to get the word out. A link to the store can be found here. Some tactics we’re supporting in the back half of the year to drive Camp’s profile include:
(1) “Kitchen Takeovers” Fundraisers with our highly regarded chef Michael Campbell (Culinary Institute of America-trained, worked under Thomas Keller at French Laundry Restaurant in Napa Valley). Michael managed the twin gauntlets of making Episcopal Church Women and Primary School Campers happy with his food.
(2) a mid-year ‘thank you’ mailing to donors and potential donors;
(3) A Board of Visitors Fall Fundraiser (weekend of September 24);
(4) and a fall direct mail effort.
More events are in planning and will be announced in coming weeks. Rebecca has already indicated she’s more than willing to come meet you to tell your organization the Camp Mitchell story. Our rates and available facilities are on the Camp Mitchell website. We will soon be listed on VRBO. Please consider making your next stay at Camp Mitchell. The Mountain is calling you back.
Greg Warren +