Nonprofit Expertise and Perpetual Care Planning
Flagel Huber Flagel (FHF) helps Woodland Historic Cemetery and Arboretum (Woodland) navigate the unique challenges of cemetery operations and historic landmark preservation.
Woodland is a place of reverence, reflection, and rare beauty. The nonprofit cemetery was founded in 1841 by 52 Daytonians who invested $100 each to buy the initial 40 acres. Today, this 200-acre property is the final resting place for over 110,000 souls including Dayton notables the Wright brothers, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Erma Bombeck, and Charles Kettering.
This hidden gem is one of the five, oldest, rural garden cemeteries in the nation. The grounds feature a Romanesque Gateway, Chapel and offices that are all on the National Register of Historic Places. The Chapel is the crown jewel, featuring 17 Tiffany windows, a hand-cut Tiffany mosaic floor, and hand painted Tiffany frescoes.
Woodland CEO, Sean O’Regan, says, “This really is a place of remarkable history and remarkable beauty. Our mission is to commemorate the dead; comfort the bereaved; and to preserve the heritage and wonder of Woodland.”
To ensure the longevity of their mission, five years ago Woodland turned to FHF to help them navigate the unique challenges involved in both cemetery management as well as landmark preservation.
Chris McCaskey, FHF Partner says, “One of the biggest challenges for any cemetery is perpetual care – anytime a burial space is sold, the cemetery is required by law to put a percentage of the revenue into a trust fund for future care of the cemetery. So, we have worked a lot with them on how to manage cash flow and plan for perpetual care.”
How We Entered the Picture
Today, this 200-acre property serves as the resting place for 110,000+ souls including Dayton notables the Wright brothers, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Erma Bombeck and Charles Kettering. Woodland remains an active cemetery, serving over 1,600 families annually. FHF works with Woodland to manage the cash flow issues unique to a cemetery operation as well as the complex accounting required for not-for-profits.
In addition to cash flow, FHF also works with Woodland on their capital campaign for the restoration of historic landmarks. Says O’Regan, “The non-denominational Chapel was originally built in 1890 and is in dire need of restoration. We had been doing fundraising before on the smaller side, but nothing as significant as this. FHF has been a huge help with the campaign. So far, we have raised over $2 million to fund the restoration. The terra cotta tile roof was just finished. The Tiffany windows are being restored. We are hoping to be finished in a year to a year and a half. Once the restoration is complete, the chapel will be open for memorial services but can also be structured for meetings, lectures, receptions, and small-scale weddings.”
McCaskey shares, “In general, not-for-profit accounting is complex. We have been side by side with Woodland as they have worked on the capital project to fund the restoration. We have helped Woodland ensure they are both complying with their donors wishes and accounting for it correctly. We counsel them on how to account for multi-year pledges, how to evaluate pledges for collectability, and how to apply for potential tax credits for their historic landmarks. Their desire to do things right coupled with their easy-going personalities make it a joy to work with them.”