I have for a long period of time received requests for donations from one of Peoria’s leading youth center. This year I received an invitation to come to an open house to meet the President and CEO and her husband. A few days later I received a Christmas card with the outside of the card showing the Presidents name and the address of the youth center. Inside was a poignant poem written by a child to her mother followed by some typical words as to why the center was so important and a request for money signed by the President and CEO.
By contrast, I received a four page third class letter from the Youth Farm. The outside of the letter was labeled Youth Farm with no individual name and the back contained the list of the Board of Directors and special thanks to supportive individuals and businesses. The letter devoted one and one half pages to “The State of the Farm” by the President and CEO. It presented a year in review and talked about the abysmal record of residential placement of youths, a success rate of only 41% compared to Youth Farm of 67%. The letter showed how foster care was more successful and cost less money. It stated that Youth Farm needs to raise approximately $500,000.00 a year to supplement their state contracts. It had news about the successful fund raiser, a board member spotlight, comments from Youth Farms new Clinical Director and comments from Sheriff Mike McCoy who strongly supports the work of Youth Farm.
I reflected on these three documents for a couple of days and decided to share my observations with you. I see the valuable information from the Youth Farm and their subtle request for funding as having the most appeal for me to part with my money. I see the two mailing from the other youth center as sort of a bureaucracy building ploy and a request for 100,000 gifts of $35.00 each or a total, if achieved, of $3,500,000.00. That’s three and one half million!! It appeared to be a staggering amount of money and it appeared to be all about the President and CEO and her need to be successful.
It didn’t take long to decide where my limited donation was going to go.Youth Farm.
Hold on Brett. The check is in the mail!!
As most of you know, I’m not much into bureaucracy building and we have a ton of it going on in Peoria citing dire needs for more and more money. Do I think these fund raising bureaucracies are all necessary? No! In the 1990’s when I was very active in children’s projects, there were approximately 70 youth organizations fighting for the same funding from government entitlements and from individuals and businesses. Yet youth problems are growing in Peoria. Yes, there are many success stories but ask our juvenile authorities and Sheriff Mike McCoy and I believe they will tell you what they tell me. We are falling short. Almost all youth organizations in Peoria do some good; many do better than others. Dollars are limited in almost any household and we want to give to those who make the best use of our money. Why not combine many of these organizations like we combined the Harrison Youth Center with the Boys and Girls Club when I was involved? Some said it couldn’t be done, yet it was and has appeared to be a success.
It was my opinion back in the 90’s and my opinion today that there are too many agencies fighting for the same dollar and offering similar programs. Yet so many kids fall between the cracks and wind up in our juvenile court system and jails. These fund raising efforts should be about services rendered for the dollar spent and not about building personal reputations.
I have a healthy distrust of some people’s motives.
I ask for your comments as I believe I have opened a topic worthy of more input than mine.