The Hell-Raiser's Blog: Reducing Homelessness

By Bit Boy (Flickr: The Elephant in the Room)
 via Wikimedia Commons

The Themes For Today's Post:

People-Who-Live-In-Glass-Houses ... Penny-Wise-And-Pound-Foolish ... Can't-See-the-Forest-for-the-Trees ... Blaming-the-Victim, and  The-Elephant-in-the-Room

A Proposal to Eliminate Proposals to Eliminate 
Funding for Nonprofit Homeless Services

Some folks in Seattle think that local homelessness is getting worse and that service providers are inefficient and should lose their funding. 

Addressing homelessness with funding cuts to, and demands of greater accountability from, "inefficient" nonprofits is like a case worker telling an under-nourished person on SNAP/food stamps that she is not spending her per-meal allotment of $1.33 efficiently, so to eliminate waste and abuse, no more SNAP.

A partial list of why this proposal would be a great example of what not to do in a Logic 101 text:

1. Maybe the great majority of any identified nonprofit inefficiencies are the result of TOO LITTLE FUNDING and more cuts will only mean MORE INEFFICIENCY. (Having worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years, I can tell you, this is the case.)

2. Demanding more accountability via increased record-keeping will likely mean less staff time for service provision, with no guarantee of a change in the types or quality of services provided. Why do I say this? Because as a fundraiser, I would estimate that the percentage of funders who actually fund the very data collection and record-keeping that they demand is 0.0000001 (maybe a slight exaggeration, but only slight). The result is less staff-time to help homeless folks.

(Instead: How about MORE money to provide the training and capacity-building that most nonprofits cannot otherwise afford? Why not hire enough (more) nonprofit staff to do the work that needs to be done? Why not pay nonprofit staff a LIVING WAGE? (You wanna talk inefficiency? Let's talk about nonprofit turnover and the associated costs. Let's talk about the number of nonprofit workers who can't afford to have kids or retire or save for college, and leave the profession before age 40, taking their experience with them.)

3. Cut funding for homeless service providers, and homeless service providers, who are probably already understaffed, will cut staff. 

4. Whatever reduction in homelessness results from making nonprofits more efficient is probably 1% of the reduction that could be achieved by reducing income inequality.

What about demanding some accountability from the we-will-create-jobs-in-exchange-for-tax-breaks corporations? What about more, or more aggressive, policies that promote affordable housing? Or policies that promote a living wage?

But cutting funding to service providers for the homeless? Talk about an inefficient use of time, energy, and resources ... yeesh.


Job Seekers! Check this out: Rainier Valley Corps seeks managing director

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Managing Director, Rainier Valley Corps
 Rainier Valley Corps (RVC) is a leadership and civic engagement project based in Seattle's Rainier Valley neighborhood, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the nation. The project recruits 10 to 15 emerging leaders from the neighborhood each year, provide them with training and mentorship, and place them to work full-time at communities-of-color-led nonprofits, where these leaders will develop their skills while developing the organizational capacity of these nonprofits. 
 RVC seeks an awesome Managing Director responsible for internal operations (HR, payroll, finances, office management, professional development, etc.) and day to day staff management, working closely with the ED, board, and rest of the team to ensure RVC grows its revenue and effectiveness. This person will be in charge internally, as the Executive Director will be focused on external relationship building and fundraising.


The Hell-Raiser's Blog: Grassroots Organizations Need Not Apply



WTF? (Why the Twisted Funding?)

Applying for foundation funding has often felt like jumping through a lot of random hoops. 

But lately, it seems the number of hoops is getting bigger while the size of the hoops is getting smaller. Consider these funder hoops:

  • We do not accept proposals (or letters of inquiry) that we have not already solicited.
  • We accept proposals from only organizations with a budget of $500,000 or more. 
  • We do not fund proposals from organizations without a full-time staff person.
  • We do not accept proposals from organizations not currently our grantees.
  • We are not accepting proposals this year.
  • We will not fund any organizations whose administrative costs are over 20% of its budget.
  • We will not fund organizations without at least one full-time staff person.
  • We will not provide funding for staff
                                                              administrative work
                                                              general operations of any kind.

Only 25 percent of nonprofit organizations spent at least $500,000 in 2012. If this trend continues, how long until the organizations that can navigate the hoops constitutes one percent?


The Hell Raiser's Blog: Looking for a job? KCLS is hiring

For King County fund development folks looking for a job... King County Library System Foundation is hiring. Here's more info forwarded to a friend who forwarded it to me:

Dear Friends,

The New Year is upon us and the King County Library System Foundation is hiring two new team members to join our fun, dynamic, and successful team.  

The roles of Grant Writer and Corporate & Foundation Relations Specialist are somewhat similar in that both require strong organizational skills and the ability to write in a compelling and persuasive manner. The Grant Writer will have a more narrow focus, work directly with the Library programs staff to define new programs, and be responsible for identifying and securing six-figure gifts from national organizations and institutions. Whereas the Corporate & Foundation Relations will have an opportunity to work directly with the Foundation’s Board on event sponsorships and in securing support from family foundations. We elected to post both positions at the same time with the idea that successful candidates may be invited to consider either role. So, please spread the word!

In a nutshell, we want someone who:
o   Is a strong and compelling writer
o   Enjoys working with a high-performing team
o   Can work independently and stay on task
o   Has a sense of humor and is fun to be around
o   Loves the library

SPOILER ALERT: the salary range for these jobs is identical. Both start in the mid-$50k’s. Details regarding salary and benefits are included in the postings.

Please help us spread the word and let me know if you know of anyone who decides to apply.

Warm regards,

Cindy Sharek
Director of Major Gifts
425-369-3225 (work)
425-765-9959 (mobile)


Hell-Raiser's Blog: The Reject-Gift Drive - A Winning Fundraiser

Grandma, back when my Christmas gifts to her were
Woolworth's hankies that my mother would buy

"Oh my, this is lovely. Oh! I didn't expect this," says my 92-year-old grandmother in her quivery voice, as she unwraps the sweater I am giving her for Christmas. "Because usually you get me such crap," she explains.

All the sweaters I have given her were lovely, in my opinion. But sometimes one person’s lovely sweater is another person’s crap, which brings me to the topic of this post - the reject-gift drive.

Here’s how the reject-gift drive works: 

Nonprofits invite their supporters to donate unwanted gifts for use in upcoming raffles and/or fundraiser-auctions, where the gift-donations will find homes with people who appreciate their value.

Some of the reject gifts that have been donated to nonprofits with which I have worked: 
  • Complete box set of hardcover Harry Potter books
  • Crystal glassware
  • Day at a spa
  • Furniture

The reject-gift drive can be an easy way to raise money. One group I worked with, a small community center, made a last-minute decision to incorporate a small silent auction into their small annual open house (the next day), attended by 50 people, tops. They generated $1000 - and with almost no work*.

*Here's what they did: they put a tablecloth on a folding table, made a dozen bid sheets, and put their auction items out.