Last year, Council President Matt West gave a challenge to nonprofit Discover Lansdale — the borough will kickstart funding for the organization with $150,000, but Main Street businesses must invest $25,000 toward the nonprofit in a year.
Six months later, Discover Lansdale not only met that amount, but it doubled it.
Discover Lansdale Treasurer Charles Booz appeared at the parks and recreation and administration and finance committee meetings last week, and spoke at Lansdale Borough Council's work session, to announce the fundraising amounts and successes.
"So far, we've had more than 45 companies invest in Discover Lansdale, and that's just scratching the surface. So far, we've raised more than $45,484 in cash this year," Booz said. "We've achieved that with our current plans for new sources of revenue streams and contribution plans we have in place. So far, we've benefitted from more than $5,035 of in-kind services and discounts. Include that into the cash and we've doubled Matt's request."
Booz said Discover Lansdale received more than $625 in private donations.
"We've benefitted from countless hours of volunteers — all ages, all different groups — and all have come to the rescue when we need help," Booz said.
Booz said the nonprofit has received spontaneous random contributions of more than 50 people walking up and saying, "Good job. Keep it going."
"To me, that speaks tons for the community," he said. "We've done this in six months. We're just beginning."
The bulk of that $45,484 came from revenues from First Fridays, Booz said. That amount is also a gross amount, he said.
Booz said Discover Lansdale hasn't drawn anything from the borough's 2012 budget.
Borough Manager Timi Kirchner told the administration and finance committee that council put in $150,000 in the 2012 budget to start Discover Lansdale.
"Many of the merchants, business owners, in town felt very strongly that the borough needed to step forward and jump start an organization that supports the events that already go on within the borough, but also increase and improve the number of events in the borough," Kirchner said.
She said part of the grant was a challenge by West for the businesses to make a $25,000 commitment as a return.
"(The commitment was asked) with the thought that the borough would have declining financial commitment to Discover Lansdale as it becomes more and more self-sufficient," Kirchner said.
The administration and finance committee is recommending $125,000 for Discover Lansdale in the 2013 budget.
Booz said he was present at the council meeting to ask the borough to keep its financial promise "to help realize the future plans and goals we have set."
"We are asking to help keep our town on track," Booz said.
Booz said the financial challenge to the nonprofit was more about unity between community, business and government.
"We’ve had successes and failures. Our successes were based on how we did fail. We learned from those mistakes and we moved forward and we feel we are making progress and getting in touch with other businesses and other organizations in the community," Booz said.
Discover Lansdale, thus far, as coordinated several events with the borough and many of the services within the borough, such as First Friday, Founders Day and Lansdale Bike Night.
"I'd like to make a comment on how important it is and how pleased we are working with the parks and recreation and public works departments," Booz said. "We’ve also successfully engaged Main Street businesses within the borough. Through our events, everyone is feeling a new pulse on Main Street."
Booz said the overall spirit of Lansdale is more positive and more enjoyable.
"I've personally accepted a spontaneous contribution from . I just walked in there and he said, 'You're doing a great job. Here's $25.' And it was out of the blue," he said.
Discover Lansdale has a major revenue stream planned for 2013 — a community guide
"We want to promote community events throughout town and highlight sponsored businesses because of the revenue stream. We will be touching base with the historical society to offer tidbits of historical data about the community. I have a great vision of the guide and it will be a driving force of revenue," Booz said.
Discover Lansdale also plans next year to invest in equipment to reduce recurring expenses.
"One of our big costs is First Friday, with staging and electric. It's a tremendous fee," Booz said. "I've had preliminary discussions with (parks and recreation direcetor) Carl (Saldutti) to see what to do to curb some of that."
West told Booz, "Well done, my friend."
"Hats off to you," West said. "Please convey my congrats to everyone in Discover Lansdale. We appreciate it. The idea is the funding that we had in the 2012 budget for Discover Lansdale was contingent upon raising $25,000 and you hit it and went above it. It gives me all the confidence I need as a sitting councilperson to vote in favor of continuing to support this organization."
Discover Lansdale member Richard Strahm said West's original challenge was a "Missouri moment" for him.
"It was your 'show me you can do this' and I do have to admit, I was afraid," Strahm said. "As a group, what we've done in six months without tapping into the money yet has been pretty amazing. I think, in the short term, we've proved ourselves a bit and we will prove ourselves a lot more."
Kirchner validated Discover Lansdale's efforts. She said First Friday has stepped up signficantly from what the town was used to in the past, and Founders Day went beyond expectations.
"It was Discover Lansdale that made it that way," she said. "It is the role of the borough to jump start and move things forward and say to people, 'Take it on and run it yourselves.' These folks have done it and then some."
Administration and Finance Chairman Dan Dunigan said the thing he keeps coming back to is hearing people say "This place is different."
"It's not just different; it's better," he said. "Part of our job is to prime the pump. I think we made a pretty big commitment to put up $150,000. It was a 'Missouri moment' and it was there. It's remarkable to do it in six months."
Dunigan said it will be very easy to put the $125,000 up for Discover Lansdale in 2013.
"It will be very easy to say 'This is something we need to continue to do.' This is the place where we want to live, work and raise our kids and all the events just make it better," he said.