Towering over the countryside, Pikes Peak is a true American treasure. And its summit is perhaps the perfect vantage from which to view our nation’s beauty. After 55 years of welcoming visitors from across the world to America’s mountain, the Pikes Peak Summit House is in need of replacement. Years of harsh, high-altitude conditions have damaged the building beyond repair; an unfitting crown to the natural wonder that is Pikes Peak. The mountain is a vital economic and natural resource to Colorado Springs and the surrounding region. It contributes approximately $30 million to the local economy each year. Improvements would amplify economic impact of the space, in addition to improving the accessibility of the mountain.
From December 2016 to March 2017, the City of Colorado Springs partnered with Benefactor Group to test the feasibility of raising $15 million in philanthropic funds. These funds, in addition to $45 million of public funding, would be used to replace the Summit House with a sustainably built visitor center, improve outdoor amenities, and create exhibits in the new center. The project also offered a unique opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together and set an example for how public goods can be maintained by all for the benefit of all.
When deciding which consulting firm to hire, Sandy Elliott, Parks Operations Administrator at Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, commented that “…the [selection] committee felt that Benefactor had the experience for our size of campaign, knowledgeable professionals, and an understanding of our project needs. Benefactor has successfully completed other projects in Colorado and project references had only positive, successful remarks.”
During the Feasibility Study, Benefactor Group conducted extensive discovery in Colorado and throughout the country to interview key stakeholders. These visits provided insights into the level of support Pikes Peak could anticipate should they choose to pursue the campaign. In addition, Benefactor Group worked with the city’s staff to put into words the majesty and importance of Pikes Peak and the project in a preliminary Case for Support. Based on these insights and research into the charitable giving potential of the area, Benefactor Group provided a final report of findings and recommendations in May 2017.
“Benefactor offered us the personalized support that we needed to make our project successful” says Ms. Elliott. “Responses to our request were thoughtful and realistic. We needed a consultant that would provide realistic expectations and not tell us what we hoped to hear.” That “straightforward honesty” from Benefactor Group is what made the difference for the Pikes Peak staff.
As a result of the Feasibility Study and Report, the Pikes Peak Summit Complex is in position to achieve the fundraising goals. Currently in campaign mode, Pikes Peak is entering their public phase. This next step is designed to bring energy and support from a broad range of individuals and is the perfect opportunity to build community and generate awareness. Thanks to the support of their donors, Pikes Peak has already secured nearly $53 million of capital funding to date, including nearly $7 million from private donors.
Throughout the Campaign, Benefactor Group has continued to maintain a close relationship with Pikes Peak, helping to ensure their success by partnering to implement the campaign plan on a daily basis. Benefactor Group has assisted with active prospect identification and cultivation strategy to reveal who might support the Campaign and how. Also, Benefactor Group has provided counsel about Pikes Peak’s public launch, event planning, and project management. This direct management agreement has helped pave the way for a successful campaign that will conclude in July 2020.