In a meeting I had this week with a very astute foundation executive, she made a comment that stuck with me. She observed just how "lean" our development department staffing is for the size of our annual budget. [Jeremy Gregg, you can't use this against me!]
I explained that we tried very hard to keep our administrative and fundraising costs as low as possible.
She said that she appreciated that and then she said, "I bet there are lots of people here in Dallas who would love to help you with your mission." I responded that she was correct, there are lots of people who are eager to help us with our mission.
I also explained that raising funds for longterm responses to poverty is not easy work.
For many donors there is still the nagging suspicion that people are poor because of something they have done wrong or haven't done right. That poverty is somehow the fault of the poor.
Raising funds for children who are ill or for hospitals or universities or the arts. . .these funds just seem "cleaner" to many donors.
Raising funds for adults who are hungry, ill, addicted, unemployed and unskilled, homeless, in need of legal counsel or otherwise "indigent," is much harder.
The assessments that feed the difficulty behind the challenges of raising funds for community development among low-income persons can best be addressed by personally introducing donors to those who stand in need of the assistance of a hand up, as opposed to a hand out.
Part of the magic of our place is the simple fact that poor people become our friends. . .real, genuine friendships break out all around this place on a daily basis.
As a result of the understanding that naturally comes from friendships, we just don't regard the men, women and children who face poverty on a daily basis as somehow impositions on our over-booked schedules or nagging problems that won't go away.
Raising money to help in opportunity creation is the best and easiest work of my life.
But, that is not because of some romanticized view of poverty, nor is it because I believe the poor are without personal problems or never make mistakes, but because of my connection to lots of poor people who are simply put, just my friends.
Larry's new book, now available from Amazon.com! Also, now in Kindle format! To place your order visit Amazon.com today! Also, available at Barnes and Noble bookstores and on the web. Click on the image above to order!
Rising from Ashes
Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
Today and throughout 2013, we need your support to continue our life-changing work in inner-city Dallas. Every day hundreds of our wonderful neighbors arrive at our doors seeking our assistance, offering their help and prepared to pursue a better life. Frankly, the folks we "serve" make essential contributions to the scope, nature and soul of the work we attempt. At CitySquare we honor and recognize the amazing value and richness of our low-income neighbors. During 2012, almost 55,000 different people received the benefit of our wide-ranging services designed to assist in the process of building better lives. We need your help TODAY as we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Even more, we need you to become our PARTNER in the work of compassion and community renewal--work that continues day after day at CitySquare.