Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#ilgive launching spring day of giving - May 31 - are you benefiting?

Based on the overall success of its November Giving Tuesday event, Forefront is launching a spring day of giving, on May 31, 2016. A kick off webinar is scheduled for March 31 at 9am CST.

I wrote about this on November 30, 2017 asking if "all Chicago Youth Organizations Filled their Funding Tanks on Giving Tuesday".

Forefront has been very open and transparent about this event, so the list of participating organizations and the amount each raised, and the number of donors for each, is available, on this page.

The numbers show that of 413 participating organizations, only 7 raised more than $50,000 and only 52 raised over $10,000.  237 organizations raised under $500 for the day, and out of this, 117 raised less than $200.

While I recognized a few Chicago are tutor/mentor programs from my list of nearly 200 organizations, the most successful was Tutoring Chicago (which I led from 1975-1992), which raised close to $13,000.

67 organizations raised less than $100.

That does not put much gas in the tank or fuel very much tutor/mentor program activity.

This does not mean the campaign is a bad idea. It means there needs to be greater innovation to draw funds into more organizations, and to get more organizations involved.  The graphic below is one that illustrates the need for year-round communications, drawing volunteers and donors to youth serving organizations in every poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region, and the state.

It also means more programs need to build a dedicated, enthusiastic, volunteer base and long-term history, which is what TutoringChicago and a few other organizations have done.

When I started leading Tutoring Chicago in 1975 I was also in the beginning stages of a retail advertising career with the Montgomery Ward Corporation, which hosted the program at its Chicago headquarters.  In 1974 the program stated the school year with 100 pairs of 2nd to 6th grade kids and adult volunteers, 90% of them from Wards. However, the program was loosely organized and more than half of the volunteers dropped out by the end of the year without being replaced.  By 1990, the year we turned the organization into a non profit, called Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, Inc., we had 300 volunteer pairs, and we grew from the beginning of the year to the end.

Why? Because of program organization and volunteer support. We created a program that people wanted to participate in.  Only 10% of these volunteers were from Wards. 90% were from nearly 100 companies located in the Chicago region. We had a team of more than 15 volunteers coming to the Near North location from the AT&T location near Naperville!  As Wards had downsized starting in the late 1970s, and closed its Catalog business, many of the volunteers went to other jobs, but they continued to come to the tutor/mentor program. Within a few years, they were bringing their friends and co-workers.

We turned the organization in to a non-profit in 1990 and started raising money, so I could lead the program full time, and we could hire staff. Our volunteer numbers grew to 550 by May 1992 and youth served grew to 440.  More than 60 of the programs core leaders were volunteers, organized into functional teams similar to those working in the Montgomery Ward corporate office, who supported 400 stores throughout the country.

Chicago SunTimes, 10-92
I left the CGTP program in Oct. 1992 and with a few volunteers created a new program serving older youth who had aged out of the CGTP program at the end of 6th grade. We started in January 1993 with 7 volunteers and 5 teens in 1993 and by 1997 had more than 80 pairs actively participating. Due to space limitations we kept this annual number through 2011 when I left the organization.

In 1993, we also created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, with a goal of  helping volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region.  I continued to apply the ideas learned from working in the corporate headquarters of Wards, and leading one volunteer-based program, in an effort to help many programs grow in many places.  However, I also began to build a library of links to other programs, and other thinkers, so that people in my own program, and in all other programs, could find ideas from more people and organizations than just myself, and my own tutor/mentor program.

I never had consistent support from city leaders and Wards went out of business in 2000.  The last 17 years, starting with the dot-com bubble's burst in 2000, and the 9/11 tragedy, made it more and more difficult to obtain consistent, on-going funding. It also resulted in leadership and staff changes in many of the organizations that I had been building relationships with in the 1990s.  I formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC  in 2011 to continue to support the strategy, but have not found a way to finance the work that needs to be done.

Others, have stepped in as intermediaries, covering a broader based of non-profits, like Forefront, or covering a narrower part of the Tutor/Mentor Connection's vision, like a few others are doing. However, I have 40 years of ideas and experiences, which I continue to share via blog articles, on-line presentations and one-on-one conversations and in a monthly email newsletter.

I'd love to share these ideas with others who are working to help kids living in poverty have mentoring paths to adult lives, and jobs, free of poverty.  I also seek others to help me do this work, as I suggested in this article about a "do over" for the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Contact me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.

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