Private Donors Fuel Monument Project
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 30, 1998; Page B1 The serious, hands-on work at the Washington Monument is yet to come. But the effort to raise money for the renovation, which began in 1996, has already reaped rewards for the project and for the corporate sponsors who have signed on.
The total price tag for the rehabilitation is estimated at $9.4 million, a small federal project by any definition but one with incalculable cachet because the monument is a national icon. The bill paid by taxpayers is a modest $2.9 million. The rest has come from schoolchildren, who gave $1,184.83; from the coffers of The Free and Accepted Masons; from Discovery Communications; and, most importantly, from Target Stores and the retailer's big corporate partners.
The bank for the project is the National Park Foundation, established by Congress in 1967 to preserve and enhance national parks and other treasures by soliciting private donations. Before Target and its parent company, Dayton Hudson Corp., stepped in, the foundation's efforts had not been very successful because of a perception that restoring monuments is a government obligation.
In 1996, the foundation and Target set a $5 million goal, with the company depositing the money upfront and then employing what is known in the fund-raising business as cause marketing. Under this approach, Target used its status as a major retailer to encourage "business partners" companies that sell products through its stores to donate to the renovation of the monument.
It was a novel approach for the parks foundation, which had not been associated with this type of fund-raising before. "Our reaction was, 'Great!' because every additional company you bring ... is a relationship we can build on," said Jim Maddy, the president of the foundation.
Dayton Hudson is well known as a pioneer in corporate donations. For 53 years, it has given away 5 percent of its annual profits last year that amounted to $58 million. Cause marketing a fund-raising practice that has evolved nationally only in the last decade raised an additional $22.4 million in 1997.
Contributions through cause marketing are not tax deductible. Companies that use the technique in effect use their size to encourage others to donate and, in the process, get recognition and exposure. "It's not really our money. We're leveraging our relationship with vendors," said Gail Dorn, vice president for communications and community relations for Dayton Hudson and Target Stores. "It's different from your typical corporate giving," said Dorn, who lectures on the practice across the country. "We do it pretty aggressively."
In the case of the monument, all but $1 million of Target's $5 million upfront has been covered by its business partners, Dorn said. Parks foundation officials and Target said that the fund-raising goal was met earlier this year and that no more money is being solicited.
Target's agreements with its partners are private. But several who disclosed their pledges are Kodak ($1 million over two years); Coca-Cola ($500,000 over five years); and Visa USA ($370,000, raised by contributing 1 percent of credit card sales over a fixed period).
Other partners on Target's project for the Washington Monument, including Neutrogena, 3M and Procter & Gamble Co., declined to specify the amount they contributed. Target's $5 million goal also was met through money raised by the parks foundation, including a $300,000 contribution from Discovery Communications, $50,000 from Northwest Airlines and $40,302 from the Masons.
People familiar with cause marketing in general said Target may promise its business partners incentives to donate to the cause. Lou Schultz, president of the Detroit-based advertising agency C-E Communications, said such incentives could include assuring companies more prominent aisle displays in stores or some other arrangement.
Target's cash outlay for the monument includes an additional grant of $1.5 million for the third phase of the project, which will focus on renovating the observation deck, among other things. But even with that cash contribution, Target's $2.5 million donation is considered small given the exposure the company will receive through its association with the monument, which officially ends when the work is completed in 2000.
"The Washington Monument has a tremendous brand presence, and so when a major national brand like Target hooks up with a major brand like the Washington Monument, the synergy that can be created is enormous," Kendrick said.
Earlier this year, Target publicized its role in the project, and in the process it profiled the renovation by buying a six-page advertising pullout in Time. The national magazine charges $169,000 a page for full color, a price that even with discounts may have cost Target a good chunk of what the retailer will pay to rehabilitate the monument. The company also took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post on Dec. 22 in which it promoted the restoration, referred to "other corporations" without naming them and concluded: "Target is pleased to help make this national treasure new again."
The arrangement between Discovery Communications and the National Park Service, through the parks foundation, is also described as mutually beneficial. The Bethesda-based company joined the effort in 1997 and is filming and photographing the renovation under an exclusive contract with the Park Service.
Discovery will air a documentary in 2000 and donate all the film material to the Park Service. The company also plans to donate $2 million to build a temporary education center at the site. "The benefit, to Discovery, is that we're getting to play a role in helping to restore one of the, if not the, most visited icons in America," said Donald Baer, senior vice president with Discovery Communications.
The tie-in of private companies to a very public restoration project was defined in many ways by the renovation of the Statue of Liberty in the 1980s. It is now a common practice, reducing the impact on government coffers and, in the view of advocates, benefiting everyone. Wilder Baker, chairman and CEO of the advertising firm Warwick Baker O'Neill of New York, said that such sponsorship answers a fundamental fiscal question: "How does a country, which is a democracy and a capitalist society, raise the money to do all the jobs it needs to do without putting a crushing burden on the taxpayer?"
Not everyone agrees. Maddy, of the parks foundation, said one reason the non-Target part of the fund-raising effort fell short is because some people feel such projects should be funded with tax dollars. The Free and Accepted Masons, whose long history in this country is tied to both Washington the monument and Washington the man (he is the most celebrated Mason), felt this firsthand.
The national fund-raising drive for the project was coordinated by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, which raised money for the monument in the 19th century. Masons from the lodge were present at the laying of the cornerstone 150 years ago. The lodge's importance is evident inside the monument the first of 194 commemorative stones on the interior walls is that of the D.C. lodge.
But that didn't translate into donations. The goal to raise $300,000 nationally fell far short. The Masons raised $40,302.50. "I think there is a bit of a feeling, on the part of some Masons, that national treasures ought to be the responsibility of the federal government," said Stewart Miner, the secretary of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia and the head of the national fund-raising effort.
Miner said he appreciated what Target and its partners have done. But at the same time, he said it made him uncomfortable. "I kind of resent it," he said. "It's a shame that we have to turn to corporate enterprises to keep our national treasures up to date. ... They don't have the attachment to the monument the Masons have."
Of the money raised by the Masons, almost a third came from the District lodge. Farther from Washington, the cause lost luster. "The government wastes an awful lot of money. I don't think I have to tell you that," said John C. Marden, secretary of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire, which donated $5,000, the second-highest amount. "And yet, for some of our national monuments, they can't seem to find any."
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