Repositioning and Fundraising in Senior Living

By May 8, 2015 July 16th, 2015 All Posts, Fundraising, Senior Living, Stewardship

The “buzz” word in the senior living industry these days is “repositioning”. What exactly does this mean? For most communities, it means changing the image, changing the brand for marketing/sales, and changing broader community relationships. As we all know, it is a time for the entire world to be retrenching and maximizing existing resources. Many of the leading national senior living communities have celebrated their twenty or thirty year anniversary. If a community has worked hard over this period to meet resident needs successfully, and maintained an above average census, many of its operational systems are tired and antiquated. It may not be necessary to undergo a significant expansion, but some changes more significant than simple remodeling seem important. Hence, “repositioning” is the term that encompasses all of the above. 

For a community to change its image and infrastructure, a project team must be convened that includes architects, contractors, marketing/sales experts, interior designers, financial experts, Board members, residents, family members and other important stakeholders. Very often, the members of this team were not involved in the original design and development of the community. In depth research will have to be undertaken to educate team members how decisions were made in the “beginning”. Perhaps the most important members of the team are residents. First and foremost, the community being repositioned is their home, and they may have no desire to change any particular aspect of their lifestyle in the interest of attracting future residents. Many times, residents can be quite insular in their perceptions of their way of life. And so, it becomes very important to work hard to prepare a budget that is finely tuned with all i’s dotted and t’s crossed. So many times, residents will agree to move forward with a major repositioning as long as it will not cost them more money, in other words entry fees and monthly service fees will not be raised. The financial team members are challenged to walk a fine line assuring Board members and Executive Staff that the costs for the repositioning can be handled without a restructuring of a favorable debt arrangement that has been in place for a number of years.

In the total timing of all tasks leading to a successful repositioning effort, this is the point at which fundraising discussions provide a solution to accumulating available resources. Some communities may have sophisticated successful fund development programs. However, many do not, and they will be hearing about Capital Campaign strategies for the first time. One of the financial experts added to the project team at this point is an experienced senior living fundraising consultant, one that can work with residents and families, in addition to the more customary donors. In the senior living environment, a large percentage of Capital Campaign proceeds come from residents, family members, and contacts emanating from these two groups. It will take patience and straightforward realistic negotiations with all members of the project team in order for a Capital Campaign to succeed, and form the base structure for a successful repositioning. When all the aspects of the repositioning are in alignment, an individual community will be well “positioned” to succeed for another twenty years and beyond!

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