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ICRCM discusses financial data with supporters

by Jeff Sykes

The chief financial officer of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum sent out a detailed email to museum supporters Tuesday, a few hours ahead of a major package of stories regarding the museum’s former Executive Director appearing in the local daily newspaper.

John L. Swaine, the museum’s CFO and de-facto director since the abrupt firing of Lacy Ward in November, thanked supporters in the email and noted that ICRCM “will mark the crucial milestone of five years of operations on Feb. 1, 2015.”

“These few years have presented challenges and opportunities that could not have been anticipated, even by the most thoughtful planners in business or industry. But this achievement, in the midst of struggle, can be the foundation for our future strength,” Swaine wrote.

The note claims that the ICRCM has “engaged more than 70,000 visitors each year,” despite actual attendance figures having never topped 55,000 since its first year of operations. More than 62,000 people visited the museum that year.

Beyond the semantics of attendance figures, however, Swaine, perhaps for the first time, puts museum financial information in the public eye.

“As of December 31, 2014, the museum has composite debt totaling $1,963,000 remaining from the $5,700,000 that was incurred over the last six years of our startup and operations phases,” the note states. “There are four components of this sum: (1) By January 2015, the museum will retire a note with Wells Fargo Bank for $131,000. (2) By March 2015, we will repay a $50,000 loan to the Greensboro Community Foundation. (3) By June 30, 2015, the museum plans to have raised $960,000 beyond what we have raised so far as matching funds so that a loan from the City of Greensboro can be forgiven. (4) To close out our current financial commitments, part of that amount of funds raised will be used to pay $782,000 remaining from a $4,000,000 loan from Carolina Bank.”

In articles published in the News and Record today, former director Ward states that the museum will need about $800,000 in operating support in 2015. Ward, during his tenure, made a priority to separate operating budgets from the complex web of assumed debt needed to build and open the museum in 2010.

FULL TEXT OF THE EMAIL ON NEXT PAGE

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Dear Museum Supporter,

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum (ICRCM) will mark the crucial milestone of five years of operations on February 1, 2015. These few years have presented challenges and opportunities that could not have been anticipated, even by the most thoughtful planners in business or industry. But this achievement, in the midst of struggle, can be the foundation for our future strength. With the support of our donors during this inaugural stage, the museum has achieved impressive educational impacts at a site that has been preserved as a landmark of profound struggle for basic human equality and full American citizenship. From Ferguson to New York City to Greensboro itself, that larger struggle, of course, is ongoing and expanding as is the museum’s potential positive presence in it.

ICRCM expresses sincere gratitude for the support of so many during these five years. The financial gifts of people like you have enabled us to meet challenges and overcome hurdles to lead the museum toward financial self-sufficiency and eventual affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution. Your support has enabled us to continue to eliminate debt, engage more than 70,000 visitors each year, brought greater commercial activity to the center of downtown Greensboro, employed what is now a staff of four full-time and 12 part-time people, and built alliances with other non-profit organizations; we should remember that the Civil Rights Movement itself succeeded when partnerships were formed for a common goal.

As of December 31, 2014, the museum has composite debt totaling $1,963,000 remaining from the $5,700,000 that was incurred over the last six years of our startup and operations phases. There are four components of this sum: (1) By January 2015, the museum will retire a note with Wells Fargo Bank for $131,000. (2) By March 2015, we will repay a $50,000 loan to the Greensboro Community Foundation. (3) By June 30, 2015, the museum plans to have raised $960,000 beyond what we have raised so far as matching funds so that a loan from the City of Greensboro can be forgiven. (4) To close out our current financial commitments, part of that amount of funds raised will be used to pay $782,000 remaining from a $4,000,000 loan from Carolina Bank. Our independent audits for these five years and our demonstrated record of performance makes it obvious that your financial support has been used in the best interest of the museum and larger community, but your continued financial generosity is needed to ensure the record of progress is continued.

With success at this pivotal stage we will continue to be a place for community connection and a resource for educators, students, and lifelong learners. Not only will we continue to deliver the high quality of programs that you have come to know, but we will endeavor to increase our impact for the sake of a freedom-loving nation. In 2015, the need for advancing understanding of social justice will be just as urgent as ever in the past – especially if we are to make more progress toward achieving this nation’s constitutional promises.

To continue your support of ICRCM, please visit our website at www.sitinmovement.org and select the “Donate Now” button, or mail your gifts to ICRCM, 134 South Elm Street, Greensboro, NC 27401.

With warm regards,

John L Swaine, COO & CFO

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