Human service organizations like Penn-Mar obtain much of their operating revenue from federal and state reimbursements. But unfortunately, traditional funding only covers the basics. We are always in need of additional revenue streams to invest in the transformative and innovative programming that makes Penn-Mar a leader in its field.
As members of the Advancement team, our mission is to raise funds for both Penn-Mar and its Foundation by building relationships with potential donors and effectively communicating the Penn-Mar story of supporting people with disabilities in living lives of their own choosing.
We begin by collaborating with other internal departments, such as Programs, Operations, and Finance, to find out what the priority needs are. During COVID, those needs were, and continue to be, critical and time-sensitive.
In “normal” times, our department is engaged in looking ahead to identify sources to fund the priorities for the coming year. The funding puzzle takes into consideration donations from generous individuals; grants from private, corporate and community foundations; sponsorships from corporations as well as public grants.
Grants are a great financial resource for needs that go beyond the basics. The research and application process can take from two to three months so we have to be mindful of the potential for securing certain grants, always looking for those that are a good fit. Have they supported programming similar to ours in the past? What amounts do they typically give? Are we geographically compatible?
The application detail requirements can be widely different which is where the collaboration with other Penn-Mar departments is so valuable. Our challenge is to make sure we are presenting the full picture of whatever the program is we are seeking to fund. We are often one of many applicants so we strive to tell a compelling story that is readily understood and valued by the grantors.
Most importantly, we never try to build a program that fits a grant; rather we search for grants that fit a program that is strategically important to our mission.
During this pandemic, we have had to pivot quickly and put our focus on finding funding streams that will fill the gap of unanticipated needs. So far we have successfully raised over $125,000 for sanitization equipment, tablets for virtual support, and revenue for increased food, utility and employee expenses.
None of this would be possible without the all-hands-on-deck efforts of other internal departments and our team members, especially Tina Chan Sweenie, Volunteer Engagement Manager, who are helping to speed up the applications process.
Our DSPs are giving it their all on the front lines while we operate more like “silent partners,” working feverishly behind-the-scenes to find funding for their immediate needs.
In a little over four years our department has raised over $1 million dollars in grant funding for essentials such as hoyer lifts and renovations for our community homes; job coaching and development to build capacity for our customized employment program; and for renovations and expansion for our Maryland Line Day Learning Center, just to name a few.
Add to this the individual gifts as well as corporate sponsorships for our recent Golf Tournament and Black Tie Gala, two record-breaking events that have put Penn-Mar on the map.
In the coming weeks we will also be launching our Year End campaign with the goal of raising $30,000 and are always looking for ways that will expand Penn-Mar’s influence so that our Penn-Mar community and the communities we all live in are better because of the people we support.
Our creative spirit of innovation, starting with our CEO, can be felt and seen throughout our organization. And thanks to increased brand awareness and tireless relationship building, Penn-Mar is now known as an industry thought leader that delivers on what it promises.