Support ACA! Why Does ACA Keep Asking Me for More Money

By Jessica Coleman

Ring, ring!  Ring, ring!


This is your friendly telemarketer asking you to support the American Camp Association.

But, I already gave during CAMPaign '07, and I donated for our camp when I paid our dues this year. Plus, someone sent me a letter last year, and I keep seeing articles in my Section's local newsletter asking me to give. I attend conferences to support ACA, and I pay membership dues. Why does ACA keep asking me for more money?

Why Does ACA Keep Asking Me for More Money?

Did you know that the national association and your local office of ACA run on charitable gifts? Only about one-third (36 percent) of ACA's national budget comes from membership dues and camp fees. This means in order to continue providing the great services they offer – providing camperships, promoting camp to parents and the public, lobbying for fair regulation of camps, offering professional development in recreation and youth development, etc., – they must rely on individual donations, foundation grants, and corporate sponsorships.

Did you also know that it doesn't matter how much you give to ACA? When corporations and grant-giving foundations look to ACA as a charity, one of the first things they check is the percentage of the membership that has donated – they don't care how much each person has given, but they want to know that the members support their association's mission enough to put their money where their mouth is.  Currently, fewer than 10 percent of the association's members have supported ACA financially. Your gift of any amount counts!

Your gift to ACA will go to fund general operations – helping with the things ACA does every day, like educational programming, research, parent outreach, and political influence. You can also earmark your gift and request that it be used for something specific – i.e., educational programs, fundraising, media outreach, outcomes research, or camperships. If your Section is participating in the Annual Fund, 50 percent of your gift will automatically be directed to your Section so that your local office can keep bringing you great programs specifically designed for area camps like yours!

We need your gift now more than ever. ACA relies on donations and grants to provide the basic level of services each year. It is in tough economic times such as these that we rely most on our association to draw more people to camp, to increase the number of campers, and to continue to provide high quality services at low costs. If you are able to, at any amount, please give.
We are expecting each and every member to consider “whatever amount” fits into their charitable giving budget – we hope to achieve the goal of 100 percent participation!

It's not too late to give! If you haven't already contributed, you can still donate by calling ACA at 1-800-428-CAMP (2267), or you can give online

It's for the kids!

Remember, ACA does not exist solely for us, the camp professionals!  As a 501(c)(3) corporation, it exists for the public good, to promote a quality camp experience.  More families and camps need to know what we do so that we can ensure every child gets a quality camp experience – help ACA help children everywhere!

What Happened to All That Money from CAMPaign '07?

CAMPaign '07 was a great start to get ACA going in the right direction.  While the fundraising effort was successful, we didn't quite raise the full amount we had hoped for. This means we have a lot of great ideas we haven't been able to implement yet! We have been able to invest a small portion, and the rest was put to good use. ACA needs your continued financial support so we can keep doing the great things we do for children and camps throughout the country.

Specifically, CAMPaign '07 donations have already been used to fund:

  • Improvements in ACA's identity:
    • Updated logos, taglines, and our association's name!
    • CAMP – ACA's first publication targeted toward parents
    •– ACA's parent Web site
    • Camp E-News – An online parent newsletter about camp
    • Spanish versions of the Web site and CAMP, as well as Spanish translation for phone services
    • More media placements, both traditional print and TV and online
  • Increases in ACA's influence, including seats at the table with:
    • The Children and Nature Network – a group that encourages and supports the people and organizations working to reconnect children with nature
    • Search Institute – an organization that provides leadership, knowledge, and resources to promote healthy children, youth, and communities
    • High Scope – a research foundation dedicated to participatory education, where both students and teachers shape the learning experience
    • American Academy of Pediatrics – an organization of 60,000 pediatricians committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults
  • Ongoing updates to best practices in the field of camp:
    • New and expanded online services for members, including a staffing site
    • Completely revised Standards for the accreditation program, including expansion outside regulatory safety compliance to:  camp/camper outcomes, camper and staff interactions, staff training guidelines, etc.
    • Continued research:
      • Benefits of a camp experience – increases in social skills (like self-confidence and independence and teamwork) as well as physical skills; this helps non-camp people understand why camp is great
      • Healthy Camps study – learning what contributes to trends in illnesses and injury in camps and how to better prevent them
      • Trends and Enrollment – information for camp professionals on what to expect:  session-length, demographics, economics, etc.
      • Operations – benchmarks for fellow directors/owners on staff positions, salaries, and benefits
      • Program-specific – such as nature programs
  • Increased efficiency in our association management:
    • New hardware and software, including a true constituent management system (member database) to be shared by National and all Sections
    • Created a National Office Business Plan
    • Revised our Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, and Charter Agreements
    • Adopted policy governance on the national level to make us more agile
    • Initiated more aggressive fundraising
    • Continue to address non-dues revenue, internally and externally
    • Experienced modest membership growth
    • Outsourced our publishing efforts to Healthy Learning

Biographical Information:
Jessica Coleman is the Phone-a-thon Leader for ACA's Fund Development Committee; she works with Sections to create and implement fundraising events for members.  Experienced in day, resident, for-profit, nonprofit, family-run, and agency camps, Jessica is known for her connection with staff, her organizational skills, and her no-nonsense manner. She is an active volunteer with ACA on a national and local level, and she is proud to be a Standards Visitor.