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Sustaining Your Youth Program: Weatherproofing Against Financial Storms
It’s no secret in the nonprofit world: Having more than one funding source is just plain smart. It can mean the difference between weathering the storm of budget crunches and going under. Organizations that fund their youth programs with a combination of Federal, State, local, and private dollars can be more nimble, experts say, responding more easily to changing priorities, including Federal funding priorities.
“We think it’s important for the organizations we fund to have broad financial support from their communities,” says Curtis Porter, acting associate commissioner of FYSB. “Not only does it allow programs to provide a comprehensive range of services, it also protects them—and the youth they serve—in the event that the organizations lose funding from any one source.”
That’s why FYSB requires grantees in its Runaway and Homeless Youth and Mentoring Children of Prisoners Programs to “match” its grants by raising a percentage of their total project cost from other, non-Federal sources. Porter cautions, however, that U.S. law prohibits nonprofit organizations from using Federal funds to pay for fundraising activities.
Still, the twin goals of having diverse sources of funding and a plan for staying in business for the long haul can be easier said than done at organizations where most of the staff is always busy responding to the needs of young people and families and staffing is tight.
Knowing that truth, we’ve planned a special volume of FYSB’s periodical for youth service professionals, The Exchange, in which we look at “sustainability”—the art of making sure you have the funds to keep your vital youth programs running.