Ds Scholarship

Free to Give: Camp Rainbow Gold

The following interview is part of the “Free to Give” series produced by Philanthropy Roundtable that highlights the impact philanthropy can have when Americans have the right to give freely to the causes and communities they care about most. Learn more here.

Golden Rainbow Camp started 38 years ago. Dr. David McCluskey in Twin Falls, Idaho had a young patient who was battling cancer and was really sad that he couldn’t go to a regular summer camp with his friends. Summer camps in the area couldn’t let him in because he was in the middle of treating cancer.”

“Dr. McCluskey was a board member of the American Cancer Society and at about that time a grant came in that said “Do you want to apply for funding to start a camp?” Of course, we applied, got the grant, and Golden Rainbow Camp was born. It worked as a program under the American Cancer Society until 2014, at which time we became an independent nonprofit.”

“Our first camp was actually camping in tents in the woods with a few volunteers. We have grown a lot from there over the years. We are better known, and our biggest ROI is our camping program. We have five camps in total.”

“In the oncology camps for teens and young adults, kids with cancer come to the camp and we have a medical team there supporting them. So, if they’re having chemotherapy at the time, they can still get treatment and the parents can have peace of mind because the doctors are watching their child.”

“But our philosophy is that we support the whole family. Cancer doesn’t just happen to the diagnosed child, it affects everyone. With this faith and value, we include two family camps that welcome the whole family.”

“We also have a sibling camp that’s just for brothers and sisters. Kids with cancer don’t get that, which is a little different than a lot of camps. Siblings of kids with cancer tend to have long-term psychosocial effects from a cancer diagnosis — you see higher rates of suicide, teen pregnancy, substance abuse. Drugs, so we’re very excited about sibling camp.”

“The college scholarship program has been going on for 14 years and has given more than $1 million to Idaho kids who battled cancer and attended Golden Rainbow Camp. This year, we are thrilled to offer our first scholarships to our siblings as well, because the financial burden affects the entire family. Once again, Our philosophy is that cancer affects the whole family, so why should kids with cancer be the only ones who get those college scholarships? That was incredibly exciting to start with.”

“Another program we have is the Teen Support Group. Coronavirus has slowed it down a little bit, but we’re excited to be back and running. You can see through the camp that our teens need more than once a summer to get together. They’ve needed constant support because, let’s face The thing is, high school is tough regardless. You get cancer where you might look different, you might not be able to do all the activities, you might miss school, and it’s even harder.”

“We started a support group, but it’s not a typical support group. We don’t put them around a table and ask them to tell us their feelings. We offer emotionally empowering experiences, fun challenges they go through together, and then push a little bit into an activity called ‘Happiness and Crappy’.” By sharing some celebrations and struggles You will often find important links and support.”

“These are our main programmes.”

Additionally, we purchased 170 acres two years ago, after speaking for over 20 years about utility issues and what we need for our campground programs. Space was one of the biggest problems. Both family camps and sibling camps were at full capacity, which meant we were keeping the kids away. We’ve been renting camps that don’t give us long-term rentals, and sometimes we won’t know until very late if our weeks are confirmed. In addition, they were not interested in adapting their facilities. So, we’d bring in a medical trailer, and five service trailers full of supplies, and we’d build the camps. We’d like to add wheelchair ramps, shower seats, a handheld showerhead, and things that make it a little easier for some challenging kids. The search continued for years.

“We did a feasibility study in 2007 and put the project on hold until we became an independent nonprofit in 2014. Then it took five years to find the property, secure it and put in place a master plan. We were moving forward quickly, and we had a lot of success in our capital campaign – and COVID came.”

“You know, treasures come out of experiences. And we actually have some good treasures that come out of this. We set up a virtual camp in 2020. The doctors and all of us realized that these kids needed to get back together. So we started asking, ‘What can we do to get these kids back together? ?” We were worried about letting other camp sites out and making them not meet the standards we would need for COVID, so we said, ‘OK, this property is 26 blocks, can we remodel and figure something out because the campgrounds should also be the smaller ones?’ So we had smaller, shorter camps at our new location. One of the main reasons we were able to do this was to get a grant from the Donor Advice Fund.”

“A $500,000 grant from the Murdock Foundation allowed us to have a remodeled inn for outdoor dining as our COVID protocol restricts any camp-level activities indoors and retrofitted an old commercial kitchen so it would work. With these two final pieces of the puzzle, we hosted our first We camped with over 120 kids and we were incredibly safe and healthy. There was no COVID and we learned a lot as property owners.”

“Getting the donor-advised money we certainly got despite COVID, and not just by writing checks. The donor-advised money provided training, support and information, and even took time only to check-in. A local fund arrived in Idaho and said, ‘What are the challenges that are you facing? Do you get an answer to your questions? Are you learning more about PPP? Here’s some training. I have to tell you it feels like they really care about our organization. I’m not saying other donors don’t and companies don’t, but donor-recommended funds seem to have power beyond writing a check and saying, ‘Hey, report back to us on how you’re spending money.’ This is really helpful for nonprofits because sometimes, as a nonprofit, we don’t have the resources to access those extra stats.”

“Donor-advised funds were important even before COVID. One in particular is set up to have employees we meet regularly and who share our vision beyond our internal capacity. So, as they meet with new people who come into the donor-advised fund, they can then identify donors matching us and making sure we meet.By having some kind of custodian, all those people interested in investing can learn more about our organization and know that our foundation is strong.It gives us a platform to come forward and say,”This is our story,this is how we are strong”and interview So many different donors that we wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.”

“Do we fall into each of the donor-recommended categories that donor-recommended funds would like to support and invest in? No. And do they have some guidelines and structure that we should follow? Of course! We give reports, and sometimes we are scrutinized more in depth. That is the thing – the process we go through to be examined more in depth and by a variety of potential donors enhances our game. It helps us become better at crossing our T and dotting our I. It prepares us for other donors outside of this box, to sit in front of them and be able to say with confidence, “Here’s our finances, here’s the payoff, and here’s what we do.” And again, there’s also additional training and other forms of support.”

“Any nonprofit executive will tell you that their organization gives reports, you do other operations, and you build the relationship. Well, it’s no different than that money. I first met the Murdock Foundation around 2015 and sat down with Terry when he was here in Boise. He listened. to our project, and advised us and maintained our relationship as you would any other donor.Your suppliers spoke to us and guided us and said “modify this” or do “this” and I would say it can be compared to working with any donor”.

“Compared to any other donors, donor-advised money is about relationships and with providing the right information to the right people. We know who brings money to us and have had the opportunity to meet and/or thank them in person. I also still feel a very personal relationship, even with The staff of the Funds The staff of The Idaho Community Foundation just came and toured our new property – and that’s a big deal! They communicate with the donors, this is the first step you take. They are honest with us about who they talk to and the money they might approach. It’s about the people in Relationships, and not related to the name on the check.”

“One of the most interesting things about the Murdock Foundation grant is when they asked us if we would be open to making a part of their gift a matching gift, and that was pretty cool on their part. We didn’t think about it! They released the money right away which allowed us to jump in and start and then Putting the rest as a match. This idea and support enhance our story and allow us to reach more people. That’s what you want from donors.”

“We had a fire burning and it was stifled by COVID. Donor-advised funds lit our fire again and especially allowed us to host our personal camps this summer, we are forever grateful. It’s magical.”

— Elizabeth Lisberg, CEO and CEO of Golden Rainbow Camp in Boise, Idaho.

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