New chief development officer for Coast Guard Museum to lead fundraising effort

New London — The new chief development officer of the National Coast Guard Museum Association said that she's pleased by the momentum to date and that this year's focus will be to recruit members for a capital campaign committee who will help raise awareness and money for the $100 million project.

Danielle Degnan, who previously worked for seven years as director of development and community relations for the Massachusetts division of the Salvation Army, and led a team responsible for raising more than $20 million a year, has been on the job for six months now.

"What an honor to work for an organization with so many people who dedicate their lives to our safety and well being," the 50-year-old Degnan, who lives in Canton, Mass., said in a recent phone interview. She splits her time between her home in Canton and the museum association's office in New London, and also travels around the country as needed.

Degnan is in charge of the campaign to raise $50 million in private donations for the museum, and for developing a plan to sustain the museum after it opens. She is also responsible for public relations and communications.

Museum organizers are seeking $30 million from the federal government, of which $5 million has been appropriated. The state, under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, has committed $20 million to the project to build a pedestrian bridge to provide access to the museum.

So far, about $11 million in private funds have been raised. With the $5 million so far from the federal government and the $20 million commitment from the state, total fundraising is around $36 million. Last year, which was described as a major year in fundraising, came and went without any formal, public fundraising announcements.

"I would not have taken this job if I felt I couldn't help them be successful," Degnan said.

Given the size of the campaign, a full-time director of public relations and communications and a major gift officer, two separate positions, are expected to be hired this year, she said.

The museum association has begun brainstorming names of possible capital campaign committee members — such as CEOs with name recognition who could network and leverage other donors. Degnan will help train the committee on approaching donors, proper messaging, frequent questions from donors, and so on.

This year, Degnan said, will also be crucial for "museum-level progress" so that donors can see the vision behind the museum. Often, donors want to give money based on their priorities, she said.

For example, she said some might want to donate specifically to the planned Science Technology Engineering and Math wing.

In late 2016, museum organizers unveiled architectural designs for the museum, which is planned for the downtown New London waterfront. The final design has yet to be determined.

j.bergman@theday.com

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