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Meeting the new challenge

Bret Hartman/Vail DailyVail Christian High School's new classroom building will be ready this summer. They're trying to raise money to match a $1.5 million challenge grant.
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Not so long ago Vail Christian High School’s phone rang and from the other end came a voice offering about a million bucks, which the school could certainly put to good use.

The catch: They had to raise enough money to match it and the clock is ticking.They went where they usually go when they’re looking for solutions, the Bible, which is beautiful in its simplicity by instructing them – and us – that if we want something we should ask for it; we just might get it.But who do you ask?Lawrence Pierce-Durrance has been teaching fund-raising practically since the invention of money. In theory, he says, it’s not all that complicated, it’s just hard work. They’re not the same thing.”When you’re trying to raise a lot of money there are two basic principles,” Pierce-Durrance said.n One: It has to be a worthwhile cause, something that seems important and resonates with a handful of people.n Two: The money will come from a handful of donors. The old business and banking 80/20 rule applies; 80 percent of the money will come from 15-20 percent of the donors.”I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years,” Pierce-Durrance said. “I’ve yet to see a successful campaign that didn’t follow those two basic principles.”If you tell your story clearly and concisely, it enables you to identify, educate and involve the people who can provide that money, he said.”A lot of charities think they can raise a lot of money through small donations from a lot of people,” Pierce-Durrance said. “They’re most often mistaken.”Pierce-Durrance travels the country teaching Habitat for Humanity chapters about fund-raising. They have a great cause – building decent, affordable housing for those in need. Sometimes, though, some chapters forget to tell their story.”You earn major money. This is charitable giving, it’s not taxation,” Pierce-Durrance said. “You’ll get that money from someone who has ties to you, someone who cares about you.”People with a lot of resources aren’t concerned about the money,” Pierce-Durrance said. “They’re concerned about what they’re providing funding for.”

If you’re Vail Christian High School, you’re wrapping up construction of a state-of-the-art education building in Edwards that will eventually house 256 students. That building will be ready this summer.The new goal is to build an athletic/fine arts facility designed to benefit the entire community. The plan is for it to be available 24/7, when VCHS groups and teams aren’t using it.”We’re seeking to establish partners with the community by asking the question, ‘How can you use this school and arts center?'” said Stacy Mengeloth, a VCHS parent who’s helping spearhead the newest fund-raising drive.The school itself is well underway, scheduled for completion this summer. An open house is slated for 5 p.m. April 27.The arts center/gym is another matter. They have until the end of this month to raise a seven-figure pile of money as part of a matching grant. And how do you do that?”Tell the story,” said Mengeloth. “I’m amazed at how generous and philanthropic people can be.”Right now, Vail Christian High School is headquartered at Gracious Savior Lutheran Church, but it’s not affiliated with any specific Christian denomination. It’s the only Christian-oriented college prep school in the region and almost all their students attend college.”People send their kids to this school because they want them to be in a small classroom situation,” said Eileen Jacobs, whose son attends VCHS. “There is very little of the anonymity you can find at larger schools, no one falls through the cracks. They are known and they are loved.”Vail, Colorado


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