Mission Accomplished ... For Now
Most nonprofit organizations would love to put themselves out of business. That would mean the diseases they fought had been eradicated; that all creatures great and small were safe from harm and free from suffering; that arts were well-funded and easily accessible; that governments and justice systems were fair and free of corruption; and that everyone in the world had access to clean water, nutritious food, quality education and decent housing.
Unfortunately, very few of them get to shutter their windows and declare their missions accomplished.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was one of the lucky ones. Incorporated in 1979, VVMF was founded specifically to build a memorial to the more than 58,000 American servicemen and women who died in the Vietnam War. The Wall was completed in 1982, and the folks at the organization behind it figured there was nothing left to do but close up shop — save for a small staff that was on hand to ensure that the monument was properly maintained.
"By February of 1985, the Memorial Fund had essentially shut down, although a core group of supporters and the National Park Service organized large ceremonial events at The Wall each Memorial Day and Veterans Day," VVMF founder and President Jan Scruggs says. "As the 10th anniversary of The Wall approached, we saw the need to re-establish the Memorial Fund for the commemorations and renovations that would be taking place in the coming year.
"The plan was to dismantle the staff after the 10th anniversary, but instead of shutting down, the Memorial Fund remained opened to fulfill the needs of the public, for education and continued healing about the Vietnam War."
A pretty amazing thing happened when the VVMF regrouped and re-energized its efforts: People remembered. Even after a decade of relative inactivity, the organization's original donors and even their children were ready to help it fund this new mission.