Remarkable Friends

As many of you know, about this time last year we had to have an amazing push at the end of our 2010 fiscal year.  We conducted an all-out campaign to save URM’s Hope Gardens Family Center using mail, email, text, twitter, Facebook, YouTube, news media, and personal calls to raise a remarkable $3.8 Million in 37 days.  We not only won the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Achievement Award, but I was named the Fundraising Professional of the Year in the National Fundraiser of the Year Awards held by Fundraising Success Magazine.   Most importantly, we saved Hope Gardens and kept over 100 precious moms and children from leaving a place of safety and peace only to return to the mean streets of Skid Row.  It was amazing!

This year, when declining giving trends combined with the continued need for services indicated a $1.4 Million dollar deficit was looming, we knew we needed a different approach.  Otherwise, we would be putting all that we do, including Hope Gardens, in peril despite the fact that we have cut costs by a mind boggling $2.5 Million so far this year compared to last!  We knew that we could not wait for a push and a last minute scramble as we were forced into last year. 

We put together a prospectus that showed how we have stepped up to serve three times the number of families, double the people, and double the number of meals since the Great Recession hit so hard in October of 2008.  The prospectus also showed the expense reductions we have made, and our sustainability plans for the future, including the introduction of our now very successful Gateway Program, which has high expectations of our guests participating in their own recovery. 

I decided to call on 50 of our donors and friends, and we decided that our donor officers would call on another 250, to share the prospectus in an effort to make up the $1.4 Million deficit. 

We are making incredible progress, and we are still adding up the fantastic gifts that were the results of these personal meetings, but let me take a moment to share the greatest benefit these calls have been to me. 

I have met some of the most remarkable people on the face of the earth.  I spent incredible time with one of the greatest aviators in history, 78 years old, still piloting jets at least 3 times per week, with a collection of aircraft that would blow your mind!  He gave to URM this year instead of throwing his Christmas party for over 400 people at his company and the local airport.  I learned more about airplanes and jets in 2 hours than I had learned in 52 years!  His achievements were incredible but his heart for others inspired me! 

I also was able to connect and provide a tour to one of the stars of the hit television show GLEE!  She and her handsome actor husband took time out of their day to take a tour of URM.  Their commitment to Christ and concern for others was very encouraging.  Their young age, maturity, love for each other, and generosity to our guests gave me even more hope for our world and the future. 

I met another gentleman at his business.  He installs home video/audio systems in wealthy homes.  I am talking expensive homes!  He showed me one $40,000,000 home that he had just placed a Home Theater in!  He shared that he was replacing the $250,000 model in his office with a new $500,000 model.  I asked if he could donate the old one to the URM Chapel, and he said “Yes!”  A customer came in, and he began to tell the customer about URM, and I realized that this business owner is a better salesman for URM than I could ever be! Over lunch, the business owner stated that he wanted to do more with his life.  He also let me know that he is an avid surfer at the age of 55!  I asked him to come to URM and give tours. “I will do it!”  I said, “Beit T’Shuvah’s recovery program has a surfing component.  Why couldn’t URM’s recovery program have a surfing component that you could lead?”   “Now, that’s what I’m talking about!” he exclaimed!  He and his beautiful wife sent me back to the Mission with a generous check and an unbelievable amount of hope. 

So far, I have met with 17 of these special friends of Union Rescue Mission.  I cannot wait to meet with the rest!  I feel it has been the highlight of my time here as CEO!  While we are still in the process of solidifying all of our plans for the July 1st start of our new fiscal year, I can tell you one thing for certain. I’m planning on meeting with 100 donors starting in September. 

I believe personally meeting with folks and sharing what’s happening at URM is not only the most brilliant strategy we’ve ever employed to raise funds, it’s quite possibly the most rewarding thing I have ever done.  I’ve met some of the most remarkable, generous people in the world! 


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