American Red Cross – Summit County Chapter

Here for Life Campaign LogoAfter years of successful service to the community of Akron, Ohio, the Summit County Chapter of the American Red Cross had become increasingly constrained by its physical facilities. Since 1975, it had occupied a former school building in downtown Akron. This facility was obsolete as a training center for the organization’s 2,000-plus volunteers.  These volunteers are the engines of the Red Cross and depend on the functionality of the Service Center for education and training in ARC programs.

Given this situation, the Chapter’s leaders conducted a thorough review of its services and programs, and the many different options for solving the problem.  The board of trustees concluded that it was in the best interest of the community to replace the old facility with a new one—built and designed for the Chapter’s mission in the 21st century. But the project came with a price tag, and these highly respected community leaders knew that money had to be raised.

“We knew that we needed to do a study, to see how much we could raise,” recalls Chapter CEO Wayne Brennessel. “We knew that we would have to stretch and work hard.  Despite our positive reputation, I knew that raising enough money would take a lot more than simply shaking a few trees.”

Goettler Associates conducted a campaign feasibility study and recommended that the Red Cross proceed with a capital campaign. The initial goal was $6.2 million.

“We have been fortunate to have such great leadership,” Brennessel continues. “A campaign like this could not succeed if it weren’t for our strong board and other leaders stepping up to the plate—which they did remarkably well.” A campaign cannot succeed without leaders, and the Akron Red Cross had the cream of the crop, led by campaign chair Peter Berg, President/CEO of First Energy Corp.

“In my years of experience,” campaign consultant Tom Maskornick acknowledges, “I have to admit that the Leadership Gifts Phase was about as close to textbook as campaigns ever get.” Indeed, when one considers the elements of a winning campaign, one cannot deny the importance of committed leadership, and pace-setting leadership gifts.  The advance phase of the “Here for Life” campaign resulted in a remarkable $2 million from the Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation for naming rights to the new facility.

“Goettler Associates was instrumental in the campaign's direction, not just in creating a solid plan, but making us stick to it,” Brennessel adds. “I am happy to say that we have now gone over our goal, raising $7.3 million towards this important project.”

On November 14, the Summit County Chapter of the American Red Cross celebrated the opening of its new Service Center in downtown Akron, Ohio. The dedication celebration brought to fruition many years of planning and hard work on the part of the Red Cross staff and volunteers.  Goettler Associates congratulates the Red Cross and the people of Akron in their achievement of a truly winning campaign.


Goettler Associates, Inc.

580 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Telephone: (614) 228-3269