By ERIC X. VICCARO
The Ste. Genevieve Parks and Recreation Board has been meeting with The Rome Group about possibly using the firm for fundraising purposes.
The Rome Group is a fundraising partner, “leveraging our knowledge and experience to help nonprofits raise more money, assess their operations, set direction and improve performance,” as reported on their website.
The park board conducted a meeting at Ste. Genevieve City Hall – providing greater access to the session because it was not only televised live on public access channel 991 but also through the Zoom teleconferencing application – on Nov. 22 to discuss moving forward on a partnership with Rome Group.
This also marked the first meeting for new member Travis Henderson, who participated in the event via Zoom.
Park board members spent several minutes combing through the specifications of the proposed deal – which reportedly was for $36,000 – with $12,000 for the first month.
The first month’s payment would need to be made up front, as a retainer, with an option for “hourly compensation” for the second and third months.
The cost still proved to be somewhat of a sticker shock to board members.
“We have to fundraise to help fundraise,” board member Lauren Smothers said.
John Karel, who has experience working with The Rome Group in the past, said the group’s fee schedule wasn’t “unusual.”
“They do this to screen out campaigns that aren’t serious,” Karel said.
For some park board members, seeing the price was like “hitting a brick wall” or “spinning the wheels.”
One the keys to a successful fundraising program is engaging the community, and the park board has tried reaching out to the public this year with the “Movie in the Park” series – a joint venture with the Ste. Genevieve County Library.
“You need to look at how you are engaging (the public), and invite them to the table,” park board aldermanic representative Ashley Armbruster, from Ward 4, said.
Last year, the park board engaged the public with a comprehensive survey that ultimately turned into the 50-page Pere Marquette Park Master Plan manifesto assembled by Nick and Mary Donze of Donze Park Planners, LLC.
The Rome Group isn’t necessarily paid “just to say yes,” providing partners with honest and constructive criticism on how to properly raise funds.
The parks budget was set in September.
As part of approving Alliance Water Resources to handle operations, there was a reported $121,579 in enterprise/dedicated funds budgeted.
The budget included the possibility of the city receiving grant money for a portion of a replacement trail system, and $7,000 for a Hustler Bagger.
The City of Ste. Genevieve’s Fund for Parks and Recreation, through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, has generated just $4,965.41 so far.