On Wednesday I was part of a fund allocation review team for the local United Way. Our job is to meet with an agency that is requesting funds - we find out what they do, how they do it and what the results are.
We examine the financial health of the agency and try to be able to make a good recommendation to the United Way whether we feel they deserve the funding level that they have requested.
I was the first to arrive at Crisis Line (yeah...me! First to arrive!) and I was speaking with one of the staff to let them know who I was (I figured everyone else must already be in the conference room...) and moments later a figure said "hey! How are you?" For about two beats, I searched my memory...I knew I knew her...but where???? And then she said that she worked at CFA. I said "OH! The little red haired girl!! I blogged about you once! But I couldn't remember your name!"
Kayla then told me she was interning at Crisis Line - her major is youth ministry with a minor in business. She is non-profit staff bound! We only had a couple of minutes to chat but she is definitely in the right line of work. She's just a wonderful warm and caring human being. I'm glad I got to see her again. It was a bright spot in a rainy day - just like she always was at CFA!!
The visit at Crisis Line (which also manages the Sexual Assault Response Program) went well. It is one of those situation that could be really tense. After all, we help determine some pretty critical funding for them. And in the current economic climate, both sides know that 100% funding is unlikely.
But the staff is stretching every penny so thin that there is little to criticize about their finances. And they are piled on top of each other in donated office space (bless Centra for their contribution!).
The conference room that I thought my people might be in? Um...non-existent. These folks have offices in closets. There are three people sharing an office that is about 10 x 10! I was really impressed by their efficiency and plan to recommend that they get as many dollars as United Way can shake loose.
I asked a question in our "interview": "Hey, understand that this is a pipe dream - but if we were able to get you 110% of your requested funding...what would you spend the extra money on?" That question threw both of the staff members in the room for a minute. But then they said "you know, we'd love to have headsets for everybody." These are folks who - 24/7 - answer PHONES with people in crisis on the other end of the line.
They could be on a call for minutes or an hour. Yeah - I think that headsets for everybody would be a real nice thing. I'm not going to be able to get that $$ out of the United Way. But I've got to figure out a way to make that happen. It's not an unreasonable request...in fact, it's downright humble.
Nobody likes to have their work/mission/finances examined. Even constructive criticism kind of stings. (I got a review this week of the church newsletter I edit. He didn't like the amount of clip art. He didn't like the column structure. I lacked here...and there... And the one page he did like? I don't!) But the folks at Crisis Line took every suggestion to heart and were pleased that our team was there.
Their wishlist is some money for staff, paper to feed the copier and a few bucks for marketing. And their dream would be a few phone headsets. That's pretty incredible. THEY are pretty incredible.
Hamster impressed - and intrigued!