After about a decade of spearheading programs and projects aimed at improving community services and the environment, Coral Bay Community Council is launching its first major fundraising campaign this year.
As CBCC continues to grow and oversee more environmental projects, the group is looking to raise a total of $55,000 this year and to realize $27,000 of that by October.
The non-profit organization has more than 300 members and has been led under the direction of volunteer president Sharon Coldren since its inception. Over its 10 years, CBCC officials have overseen a number of projects, from a dengue fever awareness campaign to a major Storm Water Management project, which included road rehabilitation, ghut restoration projects and more.
The group has accomplished all of this with only members’ dues, grants and private donations.
Thanks to one of those major grants, CBCC was able to hire Patricia Reed as the group’s environmental projects manager.
“This is the first time that we’re doing big fundraising,” said Coldren. “It’s really important to the longevity and professionalism of the organization to get to the point where we can comfortably fund professional staff.”
In order to keep Reed on staff and continue working on the Coral Bay Watershed Management Plan Phase 2, CBCC officials need to raise critical funds, explained Coldren.
“CBCC is embarking on a major annual fund-raising campaign to complement and support its programs and grants,” said Coldren. “CBCC is about half way to its goal of $55,000. I’m sure we can raise these funds as soon as people realize how much CBCC needs cash to keep its programs going strong.”
While CBCC uses grants to cover some expenses, grants alone cannot keep the organization vibrant, Coldren added.
“Unless grants are very big – over $100,000 and don’t require matching funds — grants alone cannot support and sustain an active nonprofit organization,” said the CBCC president. “Cash donations are critical.”
“Most environmental grant opportunities require a one-to-one matching with local funds; often assuming these dollars will be available from state, county or local governments, or regional large companies,” Coldren said. “Clearly this isn’t the case in the Virgin Islands, we have to rely on appeals to individuals if we are going to raise the funds to be a financially sustainable organization in this decade — and not rely exclusively on current volunteer management.”
CBCC collects most of its funds in the form of dues, $50 per person, with the suggestion of an additional $100 donation if it can be afforded. But that still only adds up about $20,000 a year, explained Coldren.
“This is almost enough to pay for office rent, which is about $12,000 a year, and insurance, $3,000, and telephone, internet, supplies and postage, about $7,000 a year,” said Coldren. “But, this doesn’t provide any funding for staff.”
CBCC officials are hoping to significantly increase its membership this year, Coldren added.
“We would really like to see if we could double our membership,” she said. “Anyone how has lived here for the past 10 years or longer knows that Coral Bay has much better infrastructure than it had 10 years ago. Some of that is due to the work of CBCC, both in partnering with the Virgin Islands government and with our grants.”
Less obvious than the brown plumes of runoff that no longer fill the bay after heavy rainfalls, are the behind the scenes work which CBCC officials do, like submitting comments on potential development, Coldren explained.
“It’s a constant work to stay on top of all the things that a community agency does,” she said. “Making the phone calls and pointing out the needs to the people who need to hear it; we really want to be able to continue to do that.”
To meet the funding shortfall, and be able to keep Reed on staff, CBCC’s Board of Directors has decided to focus on growing the group’s kitty through a number of simultaneous efforts.
CBCC rolled out the group’s inaugural Planned Giving program several months ago, with the hope of luring wealthier homeowners in the Coral Bay area to make $1,000 donations over several years.
Recently CBCC officials also launched a Business membership option for Coral Bay business owners to support the group through donations and in-kind support, Coldren explained.
“We’re hoping to reach villa owners and managers as well as our business community,” she said.
CBCC is also launching an expanded membership drive, Coldren added.
“We’re trying to get more residents and property owners to support CBCC’s work through membership dues and small donations,” she said.
The group is also planning to host at least one major fundraiser, the details of which are still being planned, Coldren added.
“All of this will take significant volunteer work to achieve,” she said. “And the bottom line is that it has to add up to real dollars in the bank quickly in order for CBCC to keep its current staff that is partially grant funded.”
CBCC is looking for community members to help organize a fundraiser, Coldren explained.
“We need to raise funds and at the same time we don’t have the funds to raise the funds,” said the CBCC president. “We need volunteers at this time and we’d also like to get some people to write some big checks. That would really help right now and let us know that we’re on the right path going forward.”
CBCC is hoping to avoid making difficult decisions, Coldren added.
“Does the board need to sit down and change our path and make painful choices,” said Coldren. “We want to avoid that and we want to build something that the whole community is proud of and wants to participate in. We have the base for this, but we need more participants and more support.”
CBCC’s board of directors are Bonny Corbeil, David Silverman, Joan Thomas, Robert DeBonis, Sarah Donovan, Coldren and Jason Hayman.
For more information on CBCC or to donate, call 776-2099 or check out www.coralbaycommunitycouncil.org.