A Building Committee comprised of Board of Directors members and volunteers was convened to manage the details for the expansion project. The group identified the new building placement on the site and program requirements. Concepts solidified into a building design the group was confident would provide The Highground with its expansion goals and objectives. Photorealistic renderings were created to understand the relationship of the new building with existing structures and memorials. Vehicle and pedestrian circulation will be improved and new amenities within the building will be incorporated to aid the organization in fulfilling its important mission to Veterans and Veteran stakeholders.
Recognizing its growing responsibility and commitment to Veterans and their families, the Board of Directors began investigating an expansion campaign to address the multiple needs of what is now known as The Highground in late 2018.
A Campaign Readiness Study was completed in the fall of 2019 by Crescendo Fundraising Professionals, LLC. It identified the possible fundraising success of the proposed campaign, its leadership potential, and the capacity to reach a $4M goal.
Volunteers, supporters, and the area’s philanthropic community all shared positive opinions about The Highground, the proposed project, and the potential to expand services to Veterans as the organization continues to evolve and grow.
To secure philanthropic success, a regional, state, and national focus is underway. Stakeholders and volunteers will be mobilized to help secure funds for the project, as well as raise awareness of the long-term financial support required for the organization.
The Highground complex, totaling approximately 450 acres, is located in Central Wisconsin. It has served Veterans and their families for more than 35 years. The beautiful grounds are continually maintained by a crew of nearly 200 volunteers. The number of annual visitors is 225,000 and that number continues to grow. Some 7,000 of those annual visitors are Veterans, many of whom become recipients of personalized support services as they visit, tour and come to know The Highground.
The expansion of The Highground will take the organization to the next level. Improved services and facilities for Veterans and their families will provide the following:
- Increased financial stability and long-term sustainability with the pay-off of the $450,000 mortgage
- Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities act (ADA), ensuring access to the entire park and all memorial sites for disabled Veterans and visitors
- A new 12,000 square-feet Welcome and Visitor Center, with space for larger events, meetings, and programs, as well as mental health services
- Improved parking, allowing for safer access to memorials and the Welcome and Visitor Center
As the capital campaign planning began in the spring of 2020, the Board of Directors also engaged in a strategic planning process to set future goals for the organization. These were aimed at building on existing strengths, while also developing solutions to some weaknesses which were identified.
Information was collected via a review of documentation from the organization, individual interviews, a planning session with key volunteers and the Board of Directors, as well as surveying of organizational stakeholders.
Upon its completion, the proposed strategic plan outlined goals and key activities for the next five years of the organization, with the fourth and fifth years being more loosely designed to allow for flexibility as the organization changes and evolves.
The Study concluded that several key elements would help strengthen the organization, with the main objectives being: 1) development and formalization of programs to better support Veterans and their families, and identifying grant funding to facilitate this; 2) Board training and revitalization; 3) a restructuring of staff to allow the Executive Director more time and energy to grow outside connections; 4) an increase in public relations activities to help expand the organization’s profile beyond the immediate central Wisconsin region and; 5) fundraising strategies to help lessen dependence on special events and focus on a more donor-based fundraising plan.