Great Community Give success boosts Massanetta Springs operations for now

In more normal times, Massanetta Springs would be busy with summer camps and other events at this time of year. In 2020, that hasn’t been the case. All photos courtesy of Massanetta Springs Camp & Conference Center.

By Eric Gorton, contributor

July has arrived and Massanetta Springs Camp & Conference Center should be bustling with activity as it hosts children’s camps, conferences for various organizations and businesses, and provides a relaxing vacation to others in its cottages, campground and hotel.

But the scenic grounds in the shadow of Massanutten Mountain just east of Harrisonburg are quiet now, the way they have been since the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down in mid-March.

Having had to cancel all in-person activities, revenues for the year are down about 50%, said Clayton Rascoe, executive director of the nonprofit conference center affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). And with the uncertainty of the health crisis, Rascoe said a 75% drop in revenue is not out of the question.

“We are beginning to have groups cancel for September and October, and I expect that trend to continue, and when we do open our doors again, I expect it will be at reduced capacity to follow best practices,” he said.

Massanetta Springs does not have an opening date yet this summer or fall and continues to monitor information from the governor’s office, the Virginia Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Camping Association, Rascoe said. Even as Virginia enters Phase 3 of reopening, overnight camps must still remain closed.

However, last week’s Great Community Give fundraising event, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg & Rockingham County, provided a bit of relief as the nonprofit raised $68,900 through online donations, close to $40,000 more through matching funds and donations sent by mail, and an additional $6,000 from the Community Foundation for being the top fundraiser — a grand total just shy of $110,000.

“It has certainly grown to be our single largest fundraiser of the year, which is amazing considering we had very little online fundraising presence when this event began in 2018,” Rascoe said. “The Community Foundation does a great job of generating excitement and supporting the nonprofits who choose to participate.”

Overall, the Great Community Give raised $804,216 through its online platform for 102 nonprofits in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, up from $536,000 a year ago and $276,820 in 2018.

“We want to thank each person who gave, each nonprofit that participated, our sponsors who contributed to the prize pool of over $70,000 and our media partners,” said Revlan Hill, executive director of The Community Foundation. “This is always a huge undertaking and a community-wide event and we are humbled by the generosity of donors who participated.”

With all in-person events on hold until further notice, Massanetta Springs staff say revenues could fall by up to 75 percent this year.

Rascoe said the Great Community Give has helped Massanetta Springs attract new donors.

“There is a core group of people who give to the GCG as their primary/only gift to Massanetta Springs. Many of these are younger donors that we would not have a relationship with if it had not been for the GCG. So we are both growing the generosity of year-round donors and developing new generosity relationships at the same time,” he said. “It’s really an amazing thing.”

Massanetta Springs used the 2018 donations to help build a playground and the 2019 donations to purchase new sound equipment and industrial-sized fans for one of its large outdoor meeting spaces. Money from this year’s Great Community Give was going to be used to repair some of the historic rock work around the campus, but will now fund general operations and help pay the costs of some programming that has shifted from in-person to online, a first for the organization. The pivot will help Massanetta Springs meet its mission, but it won’t replace the approximately $500,000 the programs normally generate, Rascoe said.

“Whether or not we have guests, there are still significant expenses that must be met for us to be ready to continue our mission both in the midst of this pandemic, and when we emerge from it,” he said. “Any way we look at it, 2020 is going to be difficult, but the kind of outpouring of support we received through the Great Community Give will help tremendously over the next few months.”

While the pandemic has created hardships and forced operational adaptations for area nonprofit agencies, it did not change F&M Bank’s decision to once again contribute $10,000 or more, making it one of the largest contributors.

“We have supported this event at the same level for three consecutive years because we believe in the event, and we realize how critical this support is for the nonprofit organizations that do so much for the Shenandoah Valley,” said Mark Hanna, president and CEO.

The bank’s contribution supports the event as a whole rather than going to certain nonprofits and some of the money helped provide leaderboard prizes for the winning nonprofits. Incentives are provided throughout the event to agencies that hit various milestones.

“It was incredible to see both corporate and individual donors rally together to raise over $800,000 for this event,” Hanna said. “We would not enjoy the same high quality of life we know today without the vital services that our nonprofit agencies provide.”

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