01/25/10 — Program waits for word on funding

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Program waits for word on funding

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 25, 2010 1:46 PM

With no word on how United Way funding will stack up for Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne County, officials say they working to build up their own funding sources.

Mary Ann Dudley, Boys and Girls Clubs' executive director, said late last week she was still waiting to hear about the group's portion of United Way allocations.

"It's absolutely the most hush-hush I have ever seen in my life," she said. "I have been told that it might be the middle of February or the end of February (before the announcement will be made)."

There have been hints that agencies were given a 30 percent cut with the preliminary funding allocations, and agencies were to respond on how that would impact their programs, Mrs. Dudley said.

"I don't know how the United Way totally operates," she said. "We used to be agencies, then we became funded programs, now I don't know what we are."

Everybody at this point, she said, has been put at "ground zero."

"I don't even know how many programs they have agreed upon serving other than we know we're in the pot, but we don't know if it's the same amount," she said. "We all know we're not going to get an increase because they didn't make goal."

Preliminary funding allotment letters were reportedly done back in December, and the latest reports indicate United Way only met 88 percent of the current fundraising goal.

Then the earthquake in Haiti hit, which sent donations and funding efforts elsewhere.

Mrs. Dudley couldn't speculate, but said the Haiti situation "shouldn't affect Wayne County."

With no ballpark figures to work from, she said she tries to remain optimistic that sufficient funds will come in to bolster the B&G budget.

"We're hoping at the best or the worst of the best that we're not cut any more than 10 percent," she said. "If they're at 90 percent (of their goal), how do they come about and decide who they cut, who they don't? I guess you would have to be a fly on the wall to listen when they make those decisions."

Fortunately, United Way is not the group's sole funding source, Mrs. Dudley said, "but it is a huge chunk of our funding."

Ultimately, grants are what agencies like B&G Clubs have come to rely on as another "piece of the pie," she said, and the club has been fortunate so far to receive supplemental funds by going that route.

One concern is that all four clubs in the area will not benefit from local United Way funding. In addition to the Paley Unit on Royall Avenue and the Fremont and Mount Olive locations, a Smithfield site has also been added. Since that is in Johnston County, it is not included on the local United Way list.

"So when we do our budget, we do a budget for each unit, but we're an organization as a whole," she said. "But how you funnel the funding sources, you have to keep track of all that, too."

The latest word is that January and February allocations are being based on what was received in 2009, so agencies can at least get through the first two months of 2010, Mrs. Dudley said. Should the allocation be reduced, depending on how significant the cuts, readjustments will likely have to be made for the remainder of the year.

"We're anticipating not being cut any more than 10 percent," she said. "But that's still for us a $31,000 decrease. That's a lot of money."

Rather than wait for the ax to fall, she said her board has opted to look at other funding sources to help the organization get over the hump.

One of those sources might come in the form of federal stimulus money from Boys and Girls Clubs of America, as well as before-unexplored resources.

"I've got faith. I'm holding my breath," Mrs. Dudley said.

The precarious economic situation has also prompted the Boys and Girls Club board and staff to broaden its base in another way.

Typically, the group's major fundraiser for the year has been the annual pancake breakfast. While that event has been a big help, Mrs. Dudley said the club is considering adding another fundraiser to its repertoire in 2010.

Plans are already in the works for an upcoming event, Mrs. Dudley said.

"We will be getting a brand new fundraiser and it's going to be an awesome thing," she said. "This is going to be fun. I'm excited about it. We're hoping it will be a new signature event."

It's admittedly a challenge trying to "stretch our revenue stream," Mrs. Dudley said. But it must be done, to keep the clubs afloat and to not be in any sort of panic mode as the budget figures start to roll in.

United Way comprises an estimated 36 to 45 percent of the Boys and Girls Clubs budget, she said, and that could be a big hit if cuts are significant.

"When we lose grants, the state cuts you out of funding and the one-time grants that go away, that's why I say, we live and die by grants," she said. "We're just kind of sitting on pins and needles hoping that the Boys and Girls Clubs will be OK.

"We have had several staff meetings where we have discussed how we can operate more efficiently, being a little more creative, continuing to serve kids. ... This time of year, it's just unbelievable for non-profits. But we're keeping the faith and moving on and not saying 'no' to anybody yet."