Economic Challenges and Union Rescue Mission (URM)

I recently received this information through’s publication, Street Smart, on how a Mission can survive the economic challenge that we are currently in. I appreciated the advice, but also wanted to share what specific steps URM is taking to both step up and meet the needs while cutting expenses to survive the challenging times. I hope they are helpful to someone.


Take action to survive a tough economy
With money tight and donations trending down, Rescue magazine columnist and administrative consultant Ron Mattocks offers these 10 actions steps to weather the economic downturn:
1. Reduce charitable gift revenue expectations.
2. Reduce expenses. Do not let increased demand drive you to deficit spending.
3. Do not accept anything less than a balanced budget.
4. Develop and maintain a 12-month rolling cash-flow projection.
5. If you borrow short-term funds or draw down on a line of credit, develop a backup plan, assuming that access to credit may be reduced.
6. Initiate an aggressive debt-reduction plan.
7. Defer major expenses/delay new construction.
8. Initiate a hiring freeze.
9. Pay special attention to donor-restricted funds; do not borrow against them.
10. Watch the receivables. Do not accept risk, and do not let them age.

Union Rescue Mission’s Approach:

This season the numbers of families showing up at our door desperate, having lost their homes is up 100% and the number of individuals seeking housing is up 25%. This dire situation has taxed our resources to such an extent that we converted an entire floor formerly used for volunteers to house two parent families and single dads with children. Additionally, meals served per day are up from 2,100 to 2,800 per day, a 30 % increase.

It is also hard to believe this next statistic (I personally found it astounding), but in the first 3 days after opening up our Winter Shelters on December 1st in Burbank, West LA, Culver City and our downtown facility, the same number of families arrived homeless, needing assistance as did in all 3 and ½ months of operating Winter Shelters during the entire Winter Season last year! This is a daunting sign of things to come.

Operationally, this has greatly challenged our financial resources, as it has for many people, but our donations are down over $600,000 this year and our capital campaign to fund our new Hope Gardens Family Center Row for single women with children outside of the mean streets of Skid Row is off by $700,000.

We have taken drastic steps to reduce our costs, while still step up to meet the growing need. URM has frozen hiring, put a freeze on wages, and URM has put a hold on paying the matching portion of our employees 401 K plans. We’ve taken these steps so that we do not add to the ranks of the unemployed and struggling and so that we can keep the necessary staff to care for our guests and live up to URM’s history of stepping up to meet the need as we did during the Great Depression, when we fed 42% of the hungry in the City of Los Angeles. We are praying and planning on what our next steps may be. I hope that you will pray with us. Andy B.