During the economic crunch for nonprofits, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula could face the most critical fundraising event in its history. The Sequim Gazette posed questions to Bob Schilling, the executive director, about the clubs in Sequim and Port Angeles and what he, the board of directors, staff and volunteers are doing to keep the program viable.
Sequim Gazette (SG): What are your future plans to provide for the increased needs of children in our community, in light of the economic downturn in the economy?
Bob Schilling: There is a need in our community for cost-effective access to after-school youth programs in a safe environment. The Boys & Girls Clubs are meeting that need as is demonstrated by our growing attendance. This need is greater today than ever before. We are an affordable after-school program offered year-round, Monday through Friday. We continue to see increasing attendance at our clubs stimulated by an economy that is the weakest in many years, some say since the Great Depression. On the opening day of school this year, we had well over 400 children in our clubs. These increases in attendance continue to place more pressure on our costs of doing business. We have met these pressures through cost control (13 percent decrease over 18 months), revenue generation (more revenue has been generated in 2008 and 2009 than we have seen since the inception of the club), and drawing on our cash reserves. Even with cost reductions, we need to raise $4,000 per day, Monday through Friday every week of the year. We are a community-funded organization and we continue to succeed because of the support of our community. To ensure we meet current and future growth, we will continue to work with the communities we serve to expand our base of support and identify new sources of funds. Our work in Port Angeles is an example of these efforts. We have seen an erosion of reserves over the past few years. Our short-term resource development efforts are focused on a successful auction in November and working on ways to improve our reserves for the first quarter of 2010. In addition, we are continually working with foundations and government organizations to take full advantage of grant opportunities. The principles that guide our planning are: - Maintain our current programs and hours - Continue to serve our members and their families - Keep the Teen Club open - Try to reach those kids that need us most - Don’t start or expand any program without full funding.
SG: According to our records, you put on three fundraising events per year: annual auction, Campaign for Kids and a golf tournament. How are you compensating for reduced revenue in the overall income of these three events?
Schilling: The three events mentioned are longstanding major fundraisers. We also hold other events such as raffles, car shows, etc., and we are always looking for new revenue-generating opportunities. We are looking into a new annual fundraising event in the first quarter that historically is our lowest quarter for revenue generation. This year’s Golf Classic, held in May, exceeded the income projection. The Campaign for Kids, as previously mentioned, did not meet our projections. As for the annual auction, we are moving full speed ahead. We are planning a concentrated effort to increase participation, including inviting and involving Port Angeles families and merchants. We believe we can meet auction income levels from past years. We are asking the community to get behind this critical event.
SG: Who is responsible for fundraising for the organization? Staff … executive director … board?
Schilling: Under the guidelines of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, funding of our program is one of the primary responsibilities of the board of directors. Our board readily accepts that responsibility. As the executive director, I am active in direct solicitation from individuals and organizations, including donor relations. I have a specific responsibility for grants and special fee-based programs and also play a major role in organizing and implementing most of our fundraising efforts, as well as supporting all areas of revenue generation. I would add that all of us at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula understand that, to some degree, each of us is responsible to fund raise. Whether for a specific program such as the Teen Club or Summer Camp for each of our clubs, involving the staff and kids builds ownership in the organization.
SG: The Sequim City Council reduced funding the Teen Club in 2009 from $100,000 to $60,000 and will cease funding altogether in 2010. What action has been taken to make up this shortfall and keep the club open?
Schilling: We have always paid a portion of the cost of the Teen Club. This year we had to provide more from general funds than we did in 2008. We included this additional requirement in our approved 2009 budget. We did not reduce any other program to generate the funds. It was one of many funding pressures that we have had to absorb. We implemented cost controls in the Teen Club and did not backfill the loss of a part-time employee. We also received some additional grant money as a result of increased grant exploration implemented by us. We are making an application to the city for the full amount for 2010. Our request will work through the city’s budget process like other requests. The council members, after hearing from the community, will make their decision regarding this important program. We believe the Teen Club is a very important and successful program for our community’s teens, some of whom are “at risk.” This critical program is worthy of our city’s support for these teens, their families and, ultimately, the community of Sequim. It is a matter of spending money up front or spending much more to deal with the result of not having this type of program. As part of our budget at BGCOP, we examine all programs and our best look at future available funds. The evening program at the club would need to be examined like any of our other programs if we need to reduce what we offer to our communities.
SG: You have proposed a $100,000 line of credit with First Federal. Why is this necessary? Is this common practice for Boys & Girls Clubs in other communities?
Schilling: Having arrangements for a line of credit, if needed, is a well-established business practice. While we cannot speak for other clubs, this is the second year we have had this arrangement. Contrary to your description of year-to-year mismatches of revenues and expenses, the line of credit is used to meet short-term cash flow needs resulting from a less than uniform flow of revenues. Our policy is to pay off any balance prior to the end of our fiscal year. We have always started each new fiscal year with cash on hand and expect to do so this year. (See enclosed annual auditor’s report).
SG: Why does it seem that volunteers such as Stephen Rosales are becoming the “face” and “voice” of the organization with paid professionals in place?
Schilling: Volunteers are an important resource in our clubs. We are fortunate to have volunteers that are very involved and known in our community. It is an asset to the program to have multiple spokespersons. Volunteers who develop and organize events for the kids of the organization, such as Mr. Rosales, deserve to be the voice behind their efforts. Who better to represent the event and purpose than the organizer?
SG: Is the unit in Port Angeles fully (or mostly) paid for by donations from P.A. residents?
Schilling: The Port Angeles Club was started and funded largely by a federal grant more than 11 years ago. With the support of the United Way, direct contributions and sponsorships from local service clubs, this unit has flourished. The Clallam County Housing Authority has come alongside this unit as have the Port Angeles Steering Committee, Nor’ Wester Rotary, Jet Set Soroptimist, the Port Angeles Food Bank, Westport, Nippon and numerous other businesses, donors, sponsors and individuals to help fill in the needed funds and supplies to help maintain the day-to-day needs of this club. By the end of this year, the majority of the costs will be covered from within the Port Angeles community from grants and contributions. The Port Angeles Steering Committee deserves credit for this transition. We should be clear about our sources and uses of funds. We are the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula. Along with the Carroll C. Kendall Unit in Sequim, Port Angeles is a very important part of our organization and family. Unless otherwise designated, revenues raised from donations, fundraising events and grants go to our general operating funds. They are used across our organization to help deliver our programs to as many young people as we can reach. We will continue to look to Port Angeles as we would any other community for new supporters and continued donations to provide for their club. It is the goal of our Port Angeles Steering Committee to continue to gain recognition within that community so that our programs are available to more kids in Port Angeles and Sequim.
SG: If the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula needed to curtail their activities, who might pick up many of the programs?
Schilling: I know of no other organization that can replace the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula that can provide such programming, meals, fun and safety to more than 880 youths for $30 per year! However, we are optimistic about the future of the clubs. We know this community and believe that the local businesses, the community service organizations and individual citizens will continue to support the kids we serve. While the stress of a weak economy and increasing demand are a challenge, we will maintain our focus on: 1) Adding to our donor base 2) Increasing our fundraising revenues 3) Expanding our grant request 4) Building on our relationship with local businesses 5) Seeking increased corporate support.
SG: What are you most proud of that you personally have achieved on behalf of the organization in the past two years?
Schilling: I am proud of each of the staff and volunteers at the Port Angeles and Sequim clubs and each of the current directors who have persevered through the many changes, growth and tough economic times never before experienced. I am proud of our faithful donors, new donors, sponsors and the Port Angeles Steering Committee for choosing to come alongside the BGCOP and partner with us through these difficult times. I have so much to be proud and thankful for but do I consider them my personal achievement? No! These blessings just happened along during my watch. Thank you for being there … For the kids!
SG: What is the goal for the current Campaign for Kids? It is our understanding that last year it was $100,000. What did you raise last year? What was the current amount raised?
Editor’s note: The financial numbers are accurate as of Sept. 17, 2009. Schilling: The 2009 Campaign for Kids goal is $95,000. In 2008, our goal was $100,000 and we raised $89,000. We anticipated that this year would be a difficult one but set an optimistic goal in our budget prediction. Currently for 2009, we have raised $60,500. We expect to see some residual dollars come in through the remainder of the year as we have in past years. These results increase the need for a successful auction in November.
SG: How much money is currently on deposit and in reserve?
Schilling: While we have raised more revenues over the past three years than has ever been raised, we have had to use some of our reserves to meet our program needs and increasing attendance. Our most recent outlook for the end of 2009 is to have a minimum of $80,000 in reserves.
SG: What is the single largest new donation you have secured in your two years with the organization?
Schilling: While we do not divulge individual donor information, during the past two years we have received $50,000, $30,000 and $25,000 donations, as well as gifts in the $10,000-plus range.
SG: Do major benefactors know the precarious financial situation that the organization is in?
Schilling: Like many community nonprofit organizations that rely on charitable contributions, our fundraising has become more difficult in these tough economic times. We are not in a precarious financial condition but could have been if we did not take the steps we have taken to protect our organization. We have been successful in meeting the increased enrollment our clubs have enjoyed without eliminating programs or reducing hours. Our financial position is difficult but not precarious. As indicated, we will end this year with some cash reserves, although less than the year before. We believe that our major benefactors, as do most of our donors, clearly understand the weakness in our economy and the resulting pressure that places on our revenues. The same economic conditions that affect our revenue generation are also having an impact on many of our donors. It is our practice to communicate with our donors and discuss the state of our clubs, including the financial situation. As with any process, there is always room for improvement. We continually look at more and improved ways to communicate with our many supporters.
SG: Have you explained this to the community in an effort to find added support?
Schilling: We have a Finance Committee that monitors our financial performance and reports to the board on a regular basis. On a monthly basis, the board reviews projections of revenues, expenses and cash position. Financial information is shared with the unit directors regularly. Our donor relations process, letters to parents, newsletters and individual meetings are some of the tools we use to communicate with the community. Over the past two years we have expended considerable time and effort in improving our financial reporting and management information. We believe these changes and improvements are a major factor in achieving the significant cost reductions and continued revenue since mid-2007.
SG: You have a resource development director. Who is this person?
Schilling: Our resource development director is Stacy Ceder. She is well-known to the business community of merchants, volunteers and donors we have dealt with for fundraising events in both Port Angeles and Sequim. Stacy supports all fundraising activities and leads our major events. She also supports our efforts to expand fundraising in Port Angeles via the Port Angeles Steering Committee. Stacy also oversees the grant writer duties for the organization. The majority of her time is spent being a resource to the many volunteers and committees involved in the fundraising events established by our organization and managing the grant application process.
SG: You are the fifth executive director of the organization. Others were all visible in the community and it appears you are less so. Is this by choice or has your job evolved into more of a behind-the-scenes figure?
Schilling: I was not involved with the organization during my predecessors’ service, so I am not familiar with what the board’s expectations of them were. As the executive director, I serve at the direction of the board and follow the board’s priorities set for my position. I do believe the scope of the job has evolved as have the priorities set by this current board. Community involvement has always been and will continue to be important to me.
SG: It seems like some longstanding board members are no longer a part of the B&G Club organization. Has this turnover affected the effectiveness of the board in any way?
Schilling: As any active, nonprofit organization, we have and continue to see turnover of board members. There are any number of reasons why board members step down. We are fortunate that we have been able to keep longterm board members and attract highly qualified new board members when we have vacant positions on the board. I believe our board is a hard-working, committed board that takes its responsibilities seriously, as has past boards. In my opinion, it is a board of which the community can be proud.
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