Dear Joyful Friends, Supporters and Partners,
Since announcing last week in our e-newsletter and various emails that Joyful Harvest is on its last financial legs and may have to close at the end of June — and even more so since the Portland Press Herald and Journal Tribune covered our plight — people have asked if this decision is final and if there is anything that can be done.
In short: No, the decision does not have to be final. However, based off the figures available across our three operating bank accounts as of Wednesday, April 24 (total of approximately $8677), with bi weekly payroll expenses alone of $2000 every two weeks for three staff members, it was clear to both me as the executive director and the board of directors that we were at the end of the road if sustainable support didn’t come through soon. Looking ahead, the only guaranteed funds we have for this year is the remaining $1000 or so from our Community Development Block grant and the next installment of $3750 from our 2013 grant from the United Way grant (a total of $13,800 this year) which is paid out in quarterly installments. We have three grant applications that we are awaiting decisions on, but those decisions will not be made until late June at the earliest. Even if all three of those grants were funded in full, we would only have $16,000 and as an experienced grant writer, my educated guess based off discussions with two of the grant makers is that our odds for full funding were less than 50%. In part because of our ongoing struggle to get the community itself to support our work on a consistent basis.
Hence our decision to announce our planned closure for June 30, 2013. By making the decision now rather than waiting until late June when we would effectively have no more money to operate, we wanted our service partners, families and staff members to have enough time to plan for the closure. Or to help us stay open.
That’s because Joyful Harvest doesn’t have to close if we can secure a commitment from a minimum of 275 people to each give a recurring monthly gift of $20 or an annual gift of $240. That means the cost to keep Joyful open breaks down to less than 70 cents a day!
We DON’T have to close down…
…IF the community rallies behind us.
This organization has grown during my more than four years at the helm thanks to people at Joyful Harvest giving more time than they are paid for, thanks to the generosity of a small number of key business leaders and philanthropists, plus my ability to secure a number of grants beyond the United Way funding we receive (which, while it has been a reliable and predictable source of support, covers less than a fifth of our expenses).
We aren’t government-funded. We don’t have services that we can bill to local agencies, hospitals, Medicare or anyone else. We don’t have anything we can sell. We provide a community space for local kids whose families don’t have the resources to otherwise occupy them.
As a community-based organization, we need community support. Ideally, monthly pledges from local people. It is a point we have made again and again, but we have very few people who are willing to give small amounts regularly. We receive less than $200 a month from regular donors and several of those regular monthly givers are Joyful Harvest board members.
Now, you could argue that with Joyful Harvest balanced on the shaky edge of a cliff that your support now doesn’t matter.
But it DOES.
If enough people stepped up between now and the end of May, we would be a sustainable, fully-funded organization where grant funding would not be seen as the sole support but rather the side dishes that allow us to focus on fine tuning our programming to better meet the needs of the community. Unlike our present state where grants provide the bulk of funding, which is never sustainable long term.
Joyful Harvest has been a community-based center that has never had a broad base of community support. Help to change that now and keep the program going independently or at least help it stay alive long enough to locate a larger organization that can take over our work. Either way, you’ll be helping kids who’ve been disappointed enough by life and circumstances beyond their control, and you’ll be strengthening your communities.
For too long, people have assumed that charitable foundations, the government, a few rich people or someone else will take up the burden. But small steps from a lot of people will do more than any of those others can. Change begins with people, and we are asking you to help, and to help convince others to support the mission of Joyful Harvest.
The center doesn’t have to close.
It may be in critical condition, but it’s not dead yet.
Please don’t give up on it, or the kids and families we serve.