The Children’s Home of Cincinnati

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Since 1864, the Children’s Home of Cincinnati has been a safe haven for generations of children who face staggering mental health challenges—even when everyone else has given up on them. For many children with complex psychological, emotional, or behavioral difficulties, who cannot function successfully at home or in school or community settings, the Children’s Home of Cincinnati is a skilled lifeline to successful adulthood.

The Children’s Home provides comprehensive day treatment services to meet the social, emotional, and learning needs of youth and their families. But by 2016, the agency had run out of room for the growing number of children who needed their help. In the Cincinnati region and throughout the country, a startling rise in children experiencing mental health crises was challenging the capacity of agencies like the Children’s Home of Cincinnati. Contributing to the rise was the increased incidence and awareness of children on the autism spectrum. There were enough children on the waiting list to at least double enrollment, if only adequate space were available. Demands for service had outpaced the agency’s capacity to educate and treat.

The seeds for the Building Opportunity campaign sprouted from the urgency of knowing that children’s lives were at stake. With its programs full and its facilities overflowing, the Children’s Home recognized an opportunity to create a specialized haven to embrace the growing number of vulnerable children and families. The agency proposed a $9 million capital campaign with three urgent objectives: to expand facilities for youngsters on the autism spectrum; add preschool programs for more at-risk children; and provide needed space for day treatment of children with the most complex behavioral issues. Armed with this bold vision, the Children’s Home turned to Benefactor Group to assess its plan to expand services and physical space.

To evaluate the potential for a successful campaign, Benefactor Group conducted interviews with donors, community leaders, and other stakeholders. Consultants assessed the strength of the Children’s Home’s reputation; campaign vision; leadership capacity; and philanthropic resources. Based on the insights gained through interviews, group discussions, and best fundraising practices, Benefactor Group recommended that the Children’s Home launch its pivotal campaign.

“Benefactor Group proved to be a valuable partner to the Children’s Home and our Building Opportunity campaign in a variety of ways,” said Roderick Hinton, Vice President of Advancement and Community Engagement at the Children’s Home of Cincinnati. One of the first and most crucial things Benefactor Group did was to help the Children’s Home produce a case for support—a compelling story to inspire community passion about the agency’s cause. This case served as the foundation for campaign messaging and roused donors and community members to share the organization’s vision for the future.

In the first 16 months of the anticipated 36-month campaign, Building Opportunity raised $8 million toward a $9 million goal, with remarkable support from the home’s board and the community. “The success we’ve had,” Hinton said, “is allowing us to begin Phase II of the physical expansion project and has propelled the leadership team to consider raising the campaign goal in order to have a greater impact on the work of the agency.” Thoughtful campaign preparation, an urgent and powerful case for support, and early leadership gifts from passionate, visionary donors helped the campaign gain powerful momentum from the start. Early campaign success poised the Children’s Home to dream even bigger. It now envisions being the model provider of child mental health services in the region.

The Building Opportunity campaign strengthened the agency’s fundraising leadership capacity, increased its donor base, and amplified community awareness and engagement. Today, the Children’s Home of Cincinnati is positioned to transform the lives of many more children whose mental health challenges once were unsurmountable.

Benefactor Group and the Children’s Home enjoyed their partnership—and the opportunity to serve the children of Greater Cincinnati. “What was most valuable about our partnership with Benefactor Group,” said Hinton, “was their responsiveness to challenges and hiccups that developed along the way. Their sense of customer service is refreshing.”