Saturday, August 12, 2006

Doing Well. . .Offset by Doing More

Directing an effective non-profit organization can be a real challenge.

I've decided that if an organization's mission aims to put a real dent in poverty and the forces that create it and its needless suffering, then that kind of non-profit is even harder to lead.

Just yesterday I was talking with one of our key leaders. He told me that he fears people think we are doing so well here at Central Dallas Ministries that we don't really need any more help.

I know what he means. We've had more than one church tell us just that!

"You know, Larry," these conversations begin, "CDM is doing so well and has grown so much, we just feel it is time to direct our funding toward smaller, newer, weaker organizations."

I try not to argue. But I do point out the need for sustained support if we are ever to reach scale and have maximum impact.

Of course, the fact is, we are doing well.

Our growth graph itches out an unbroken upward path extending from 1988 to the present.

You pick what you want to measure.

Number of persons served?

Number of community persons who volunteer and who join us daily in attempting to work for real change in the city?

Number of high-functioning initiatives?

Revenue generated from year to year?

Every marker is on the plus side.

Great news, huh?

Yes, indeed!

But. . .don't you hate that word?. . .the upward trend lines to be considered here must also include those that relate to the numbers of people in need of assistance, opportunity and access.

Number of persons in Dallas living in poverty? Up.

Number of people who work, but still find that they need a hand up as they keep trying to craft a better life for themselves? Up.

Number of persons who need medical care? Way up!

Number of persons who need legal counsel? Growing rapidly.

Number of organizations coming to us interested in new partnerships, new collaborations? Many.

We are doing well.

However, our challenge is created by our determination and our responsibility to do more in the face of these growing needs, aspirations and opportunities.

Remember us, please.

Blog campaign report: So far, thanks to your generosity, we are moving in on $15,000 donated by our blog community toward our $100,000 goal by October 31, 2006! You'll notice the progress graphic to the right above.

For background see my posts on August 8 and 9, 2006.

Thanks to all who have contributed!

If you haven't as yet, please consider doing so by going or by mailing your checks to: Larry James Urban Daily, P. O. Box 710385, Dallas, Texas 75371-0385.

And, don't forget: forward our appeal to your friends and associates--building a closely linked network is the key to success here.

Those who have posted it on their blogs have really helped us!


Eric Livingston said...

I'm glad to hear CDM is doing well.

I know little about CDM's upward trends in all those facets. I also know little about the trend of people in need in the Dallas area.

But, my guess is that the upward trend of people in need in Dallas far exceeds the upward trend of CDM. That would mean that in effect, CDM's effect on people in need in Dallas has a downward trend.

I'm not trying to say CDM is doing poorly. I know CDM does great work. Just thought I would make the point that even as organizations grow in their ability to help, the demographic of people in need is growing so fast that we can never quite be big enough, have enough resources, or be well equipped enough to meet all the needs.

If people are reluctant to help CDM because CDM seems to be doing well, then they may just need a reminder of the magnitude of need in the Dallas area.

Larry James said...

Eric, your statement is the best summation of our situation, as well as that of like organizaitons around the nation today. You really understand.

Thanks for your sensitivity, your understanding and your obvious compassion.

Jeremy Gregg said...


For some of the figures about the rising need we are facing, please visit:

- Nearly 10% of the nation's poorest people live in Texas.

- The number of American households experiencing hunger has jumped 43% over the past 5 years (1999-2004).

- "One out of every five Dallas children is being raised in poverty."