There is a saying that goes: It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
That’s how Ellen Schreiber views the fundraising effort she is heading for the Underwood Pool Building Committee to secure $200,000 from residents and businesses in just under five weeks that will allow construction to begin on a new Underwood Pool.
In just over a fortnight, the campaign – which began after the low bidding construction company set to build the $4.16 million project backed out at the last minute leaving the town nearly $400,000 short of the new low bid of $4.55 million – has raised nearly three-quarters of the goal, in large part to a $200,000 matching grant from the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation to go along with nearly $100,000 in contributions large and small, Schreiber told the Belmontonian.
But Schreiber, a veteran campaigner who co-led the major town-wide undertaking to build a new Joey’s Park adjacent to the Winn Brook Elementary School, is far from complacent. In a question and answer with the Belmontonian, Schreiber said she is gearing up for a sustained final push to secure the needed funding to replace the existing 102-year-old structure and secure a summer swimming season in 2015.
Belmontonian: You wrote in an recent email that in the first week of the fundraising effort for the new Underwood Pool fundraising raised $93,000, just under half of what needs to be raised to meet the $400,000 goal. Were you expecting such as hopeful response to building the new pool complex?
Schreiber: I am very excited by the response of the Belmont community to the fundraising effort for the New Underwood Pool. I have never seen donations come in so quickly for a fundraising project of this size. I think it shows how much Belmont residents care about the pool. At this point, including the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation matching grant, we’ve crossed the $300,000 threshold, but there is still a lot of money to raise.
Belmontonian: Could you break down in percentage between large – $1,000 and greater – and the smaller donations? What is the total number of donators? How many businesses have donated?
Schreiber: We have received pledges and checks from more than 250 Belmont residents. From my fundraising experience, the donation amounts seem to be higher than typical. I think people understand the fundraising goal and short timeframe and have responded by doing everything they can to help meet the goal. You couldn’t raise this amount of money without some large donations plus many smaller donations, and we’ve gotten a lot of both.
Belmontonian: There has been a great initial response from residents and businesses. How do you keep up the enthusiasm so the goal can be reached by the Oct. 30 deadline?
Schreiber: Communication! It is very important to keep people in the loop. The closer we get, the more enthusiasm we all have. So far, the response has been incredible, but we’re not done yet. We want to begin building the pool while we still have great weather. So for people who are considering a donation, sooner is better.
Belmontonian: How will you be reaching out to the community for funds?
Schreiber: We are trying every way we can to reach Belmont residents and let them know about the fundraising campaign. This really is a viral campaign – some people are sending emails to their friends, some are sending letters, some are talking it up. And of course, we’re trying to get the word out through the press. It seems to me that the word is out, based on the response we’ve been getting.
Belmontonian: Is it more efficient to court businesses and high-income individuals to raise the remaining funds or can you meet the goal with smaller contributions?
Schreiber: I think it is important to give everyone the opportunity to make a difference. You can’t raise money for a project like this if there is not widespread community support, and that is clearly demonstrated by the response – both in numbers of donors and size of donations. This pool belongs to everyone in Belmont; we all have a crucial role to play.
It’s great to have the opportunity to help our community replace a treasured Belmont gathering place. Clearly, there is broad support for the pool, including young families and empty nesters, homeowners who are new to Belmont and those who grew up here, residents who use the pool and those who don’t.
The pool means so much to me – I’ve watched my kids grow up there. And I spoke with a donor yesterday whose parents first met at the Underwood Pool and his now grown children spent lots of time there. The pool brings us together and builds community for kids and adults, and it helps make Belmont the town we love.
One more thing; please visit www.UnderwoodPool.com to donate online or to follow instructions for donating by check.