Mission Accomplished ... For Now
"We joke about it; we tell Jan we're just like a little time machine and that this is the 'Jan Method of Fundraising,'" Arbogast says. "You spend time gearing up, prepping, watching the pieces fall into place — then it reaches critical mass, that tipping point where it starts to enter mainstream media, and its relevance in the public increases. Then people see it and understand it better and want to know more.
"This is just like [the campaign for the original memorial]: Things lined up and we're off and running."
Fundraising for the education center had been largely quiet until September, Arbogast says, because VVMF never wanted the project to cannibalize contributions for upkeep of The Wall itself and the programs affiliated with it.
The organization just recently started to actively solicit its housefile for donations for the education center. That was determined by a matching-gift challenge from San Antonio Spurs owner Pete Holt, who offered to match any gifts made by Texas residents, up to $1 million.
Other than that, most direct mail to the housefile is still aimed at maintenance and other issues associated with The Wall.
Some new twists
Most of VVMF's donors are Vietnam veterans themselves and their families. Soliciting donations outside of that base is a tough sell, Arbogast says, stressing how important it is then for the organization to engage multiple generations of veterans' families. (While the vets are in their mid-60s, their children are in their 40s, and their grandchildren are coming up on their 30s — a strong source for volunteers.)
To that end, VVMF has a strong presence online, especially on Facebook. As an example of the kind of enthusiasm its Facebook fans have, VVMF recently ran a contest on the social-media site asking fans to submit their own personal photos of the memorial, and it received more than 2,000 entries (and 2,000 more names on its e-mail list).