The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

August 28, 2013

Funding its future

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Time and money are running out for the Gateway ImpACT Coalition and the questions now are whether the community wants to continue the coalition and at what cost.

Members of the coalition met Tuesday to discuss sustainability options for the non-profit organization and how the group plans to move forward with that process.

Sgt. Christopher Cole with the Iowa Counter Drug Force of the Iowa National Guard has been working with ImpACT for the past couple of weeks to brainstorm ideas for funding.

“I help provide training and coaching to coalitions to help them better implement their strategic framework,” Cole said.

His meeting with the ImpACT coalition on Tuesday included discussion about what programs the group could cut from funding, what avenues to pursue for funding and whether the coalition wanted to keep paid staff positions or remove those from the budget.

Cole laid out three separate scenarios, each with its own funding goal, for the coalition to consider.

The first goal required $11,650 in funding to sustain the coalition’s current activities and programs without a paid staff position. The second goal allowed one part-time staff position, with the activities and programs, for $45,650 in funding.

The third goal would allow the coalition to continue working the way it has with two part-time employees, but would require $65,650 in annual funding.

“Goal three is the ultimate goal but goal two is more likely obtainable with budget line items,” Coal said.

Cole’s pressure to consider budget line items is to steer the coalition away from depending on grant funding. He advises against seeking grant money because it can be inconsistent and has certain stipulations the coalition must follow.

Instead, Cole suggested the group start thinking like a business so it can learn to sustain its own budget.

“If you raise your own money, you can do with it whatever you please,” Cole said. “Plus it is guaranteed. Grants are not guaranteed.”

The urgency to find a sustainable funding program for the coalition comes from the ending of the group’s former grant with the Drug Free Communities Support Program. The 10-year plan for the DFC grant is complete at the end of September.

The coalition currently has enough funding to make it through the end of the year and part of next year, but is looking for a long-term option to continue serving the Clinton County area.

During the brainstorming session, coalition members from the Area Substance Abuse Council, the YWCA, the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office and Mercy Medical Center, among others, suggested funding options for the coalition to continue operation.

One choice the coalition is planning to pursue is the option for budget line items with large, area businesses that have strong connections to the cause.

Cole’s “Who, What, Who, When” chart gave the group an opportunity to ask who they would pursue for funding, what they would promote to those businesses, who would be the one to pursue the businesses and when it would all happen.

“We really need to look at what companies fit better with what entities,” ASCA Director of Prevention for Clinton and Jackson County Leslie Mussman said.

The next step for the Gateway ImpACT Coalition is to start coming up with more options for future funding, without competing with other non-profits in the community.

To gain more knowledge about other organizations and funding options another sustainability meeting will begin at noon Sept. 26 at Pizza Ranch in Clinton.

Coalition Coordinator Crystal Lawburgh hopes some of the other non-profit organizations will be present at the meeting so each group can discuss its future fund-raising efforts, but knows it could be a tall order to fill.

“I think some people will be reluctant to volunteer that information because they don’t want other groups reaching out for that funding,” Lawburgh said. “But at least we can get an idea of what’s out there.”