Conserving Birds, Creating Wonder
The Carolina Raptor Center (CRC) is a bird rehabilitation and educational center located on the grounds of Latta Nature Preserve. The Center cares for ~1,000 birds each year, releasing nearly 70% back into the wild. Their outdoor trail and education center welcomes tens of thousands of people each year and serves tens of thousands more students through educational outreach programs.
Designing the New Center
Over the last six years, Carolina Raptor Center laid the groundwork to partner with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation to open a new nature center at Latta Nature Preserve called Quest, as well as a new Raptor Trail and Medical Center. Quest would expand the CRC’s offerings for children, families and schools offering interactive exhibits and more space for programming. The new Raptor Trail would expand upon the concept of the organziation’s existing ¾ mile trail, creating an engaging “edu-tain-ment” space that offers greater accessibility and outdoor space for visitors.
Carolina Raptor Center contracted withNext Stage in an extended engagement to help design a plan for the new Center, including the capital campaign to fund it. With funding in the bank, the Next Stage team led a series of design sprints that helped ideate engaging new exhibits for the Raptor Trail and developed a strategic business plan to usher in the new facility.
Next Stage helped the organization launch a full-scale strategic planning effort designed to map a future for the organization’s next 50 years. The effort included a series of whiteboard intensives, a wide range of stakeholder interviews, research and a market assessment.
An Ambitious Campaign
Carolina Raptor Center’s innovative Quest plans came with a $3.7 million price tag – the most ambitious fundraising campaign ever undertaken by the CRC. Next Stage helped the team build and execute a plan for a capital campaign that would bring Quest and the new Raptor Trail to life. The effort was significantly bolstered by early commitments from institutions like the Duke Energy Foundation, Charlotte Metro Credit Union, The Leon Levine Foundation and The Cannon Foundation.
A New Trail, A Public Campaign
These early gifts, along with major gifts secured from individual donors enabled the construction of the Quest building. The Raptor Trail is currently under construction and will soon be open for members and guests to preview.
As the finishing touches are placed on the building and trail, the campaign is moving to a public-facing phase that will allow a wide audience to participate in launching this exciting new phase of the organization. The Raptor Center team is building a suite of opportunities that will allow members, guests, volunteers, civic groups and educational institutions the ability to help support the birds and place their name on bricks, enclosures and benches that will be enjoyed for years to come.