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Lisa Berray
10-10-2006, 05:21 PM
Hello, All! I thought I would turn to you for advice:) I am trying to start an organization to raise money to restore and preserve "Ferry Hill Place" near Sharpsburg, MD; the childhood home of Confederate officer Henry Kyd Douglas. Currently, the house is owned by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, and it is in need of some major repairs and restoration. In your experience, who do you turn to to generate interest in such a fund raising effort? I would like to start a "Friends of Ferry Hill" organization, but have little idea how to begin. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Lisa

KarinTimour
10-10-2006, 07:18 PM
Why not contact other historic houses or properties, or organzations whose purpose is the same? Friends of Beavoir, Arlington House, Mount Vernon Ladies Association, etc.

You need advice on a) how to structure such an organization; b) how to fundraise; c) who to invite to be on the board and who to invite to participate in the organization itself.

Since it's a National Historical Park property, I'd start there first -- are there regulations you need to comply with before founding such an organization? Have you discussed this with the park staff? How can they help you, and what are the restrictions on what they can do? Have they done an evaluation of what needs to be done to the house to a) stabilize it and then b) restore it?

Assuming you have the support of the park staff, and assuming you raise X number of million dollars, can you just hire your own contractor and start work? Or are there permitting restrictions that you'll need to comply with before starting work? Do you need to get a 501 (c)(3) tax status or can the park's non-profit status be used as your base?

Again, I've never been involved in something like this, but have had extensive experience with non-profits, non-profit fundraising, board politics, etc.

I'd start with interviewing as many people who have been involved in various historic homes as possible, and asking their advice about what they were pleased that they did and what (in retrospect) they would do differently. And I'd also quickly get a sense of where the Parks Service staff are with this proposal.

It's a fascinating project and I wish you the very best with it.

And when you have Dark Nights of the Soul and are convinced that you're absolutely crazy for taking this on, remember the Margaret Mead quotation, which goes something like "Never doubt that a few determined people can change the world -- indeed, that's the only way it's ever been done."

Or words to that effect,
Good luck!
Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Atlantic Guard Soldier's Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

Lisa Berray
10-10-2006, 08:22 PM
And when you have Dark Nights of the Soul and are convinced that you're absolutely crazy for taking this on, remember the Margaret Mead quotation, which goes something like "Never doubt that a few determined people can change the world -- indeed, that's the only way it's ever been done."

Thank you, Karin, for your inspiring words! Actually, I have the full support of the park staff, with whom I have volunteered for a year in doing research on and tours of the house. I am fortunate in the fact that they love the house and want to see it preserved as much as I do, but as they work for the park, they cannot do any fundraising for the project. What I am hoping is that I can get the ball rolling on establishing a viable non-profit organization that I can, in turn, hand over to an interested and passionate board when, in time, I too become a ranger at that park. My interest is in seeing the house restored to its appearance in the mid-19th century when it bore witness to much of the Civil War and hosted many of its prominent participants. It is a wonderful resource that needs a lot of love, and I have this unquenchable desire to see it utilized to fullest potential. Thank you for your advice, and I will get on the ball with implementing your suggestions!
Lisa