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Community Shelter Board

The Challenge.

For over 35 years, the Community Shelter Board (CSB) has been creating innovative solutions and quality programs for homeless individuals and families in Central Ohio. But in 2013, they faced a crisis. The homeless population in Franklin County was growing, and the number of homeless families had sky-rocketed after the 2009-10 recession. There were a handful of shelters for men and women in Columbus, and only one for families. The lone family shelter could serve just 50 families a night, and their wait list sometimes stretched to over 125 families in need of shelter.


CSB was booking rooms nightly at local motels and hotels to ensure families and children received shelter—an inefficient and unsustainable solution. Something had to be done. That was when CSB’s President & CEO called Cramer with a bold objective: to end homelessness in our community.

The Strategy.

Community Shelter Board staff found an ideal location for a new shelter where they could serve both men and women and create groundbreaking new programming. It would require a major campaign to bring their vision to life. Cramer helped CSB create a compelling case for support and facilitated a feasibility study to test a comprehensive goal of $32 million. The study revealed considerable support for CSB’s plans, and in the spring of 2014, the $38.4 million Homeless to Home Collective Campaign was launched.


Our team recruited a passionate local business leader to serve as campaign chair. With his influence and the expertise of CSB’s staff, Cramer put a plan into motion to secure lead gifts from both the public and private sectors simultaneously. This plan involved conducting tours so civic officials and philanthropists could see firsthand the vision for the new shelter.


During one of these tours, then-Mayor of Columbus Michael B. Coleman asked, “What about the families? Can they be housed in this new shelter too?” A meeting was quickly organized with the architects and contractors, and discovered that, with some changes, a new 60,000-square-foot family shelter could be built on the same footprint. This one-of-kind facility was embraced by the community. Today, the Van Buren Shelter serves as a “best practice” model for shelter facilities throughout the United States.

Project Facts

in public funding
$ 0 Million
increase in annual operating budget
0 X
Community Shelter Board

The Result.

Our campaign strategy for Community Shelter Board raised over $45 million for the new Van Buren Shelter and innovative new programming; but it did so much more. The Homeless to Home Collective Campaign brought the organization national attention and acclaim. CSB’s innovative “under one roof” model for addressing homelessness has inspired government officials and national foundations, who have made generous allocations and grants to the organization to fund its mission.


Cramer’s powerful campaign messaging has generated considerable ongoing operational and programmatic support for CSB. When their campaign launched in 2014, CSB’s annual operating budget was just over $13 million; today, it exceeds $55 million.

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