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Museum taps fundraiser

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Dianne Davidian has job of raising $100,000 in year.

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. [05.07.04] — Veteran fundraising volunteer Dianne Davidian will join the Raleigh City Museum as part-time director of external affairs under a one-year contract that calls for her to raise $100,000.

The hiring of Davidian, who begins work July 5 and will focus on recruiting new members and partners, and developing special events, is key to efforts by the nonprofit museum to revive its finances.

Faced with a cash-flow deficit of nearly $26,000 for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2003, the museum a year ago refinanced the mortgage for space it occupies in the Briggs Hardware Building downtown, dipped into reserves to cover the deficit, and posted savings after its executive director resigned and it eliminated a second position.

The museum balanced its budget only by  “cutting brutally and realizing that going forward we didn’t have the money to continue operating the way we’d been operating,” says Martha Waters, board chair. “We’re only spending money when we have money to spend.”

Jenny Kulikowski resigned last August as executive director, and the elimination of the second job left the staff at two, Waters says.

The museum also refinanced two mortgage notes held by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and Preservation North Carolina, partners that own the Briggs Building.

The partnership agreed to let the museum delay principal payments on a new combined note for 2003 through 2005, paying only interest those years, and to pay the remaining $140,000 in principal in two equal payments in 2006 and 2007, says Woody Jackson, an accountant who chairs the finance committee of the museum board.

Still, in addition to paying $9,800 in interest for 2003, the museum received a grant from the A.E. Finley Foundation in Raleigh and made an early principal payment of $6,000 at the end of 2003.

The Fletcher Foundation also has given the museum $30,000 to support its fundraising efforts.

And with support from eight sponsors, the museum in April opened a new exhibit, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Transportation in the Triangle.”

The museum is on track to balance its budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30, having reduced its expenses roughly 40 percent over the past two fiscal years, Jackson says.

“We have reacted to the lack of giving,” he says. “We clearly have cut back on our expenses.”

For the fiscal year that begins July 1, Waters says, the museum has submitted to the city of Raleigh a proposed budget of $258,000, including $133,000 to be raised by Davidian and the board from private sources, and the remainder from admissions revenue, foundation gifts, special events and a proposed contribution from the city.

Davidian has held volunteer fundraising positions for the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education, North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute, YWCA Academy of Women, Raleigh Little Theater and N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

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