I wish to thank the people who have commented on my last blog about the current administration’s policies and the looming environmental catastrophe. I received many thoughtful observations from a variety of sources including the RFC’s website, Facebook and the online site OpEdNews. I am encouraged that so many people wish to discuss this crucial question. I’m sorry that I have only been able to answer a few of them. I’ve been consumed with work related to our year-end fundraising and budgeting for the next 12 months.
At the RFC, we enter 2012 facing the same financial reality we’ve confronted since 2008. Four years ago I described the growing recession as “a perfect storm of negative circumstances.” I continued: “When people are facing foreclosure, worrying about health insurance, and paying gargantuan heating bills, they are less able to contribute.” At the same time the recession left many RFC beneficiary families even more financially vulnerable. As the economy tanked, their need for our services grew.
The RFC was fortunate. We knew in advance that 2008 was going to be a bad year for us because it was a presidential election year. It may surprise some in our community to learn that we are hurt in this manner every four years. It is hard to imagine that many of our supporters would take funds they’d normally donate to the RFC and give them instead to a presidential candidate. Once you realize, however, that we award between $350,000 and $400,000 annually, even if just 5% of our supporters focus on electoral funding instead, it could cost our beneficiaries $20,000.
With this potential loss in mind AND noting the mounting signs of financial disaster, we worked extra hard in 2006 and 2007 to stockpile funds and to make our operation even leaner rather than expand during the last years of relative good times. Thus, even though hard times hit, we were able to match the record $400,000 we awarded in 2007 with another $400,000 year in 2008. We also held our 2008 Family Gathering as planned.
But the recession went on and on, and the resources we’d worked to harbor dwindled. We had to cancel our 2009 Carry it Forward Gathering and reduce our granting in 2009 to $350,000. The recession persisted, but so did we. We vowed to return to the $400,000 mark as soon as possible. We started our 20/20/20 program in September, 2009 to mark our 20th anniversary with 20 events over 20 months to raise additional funds. The success of that program enabled us to increase our granting to $360,000 in 2010 and $370,000 in 2011. We were also able to hold the Carry it Forward Gathering we had to cancel in 2009.
The “we” I’ve referred to in the preceding paragraphs includes a huge number of people. Our staff and Board had the vision and effectiveness to bring about these successes, but the entire RFC community contributed mightily as well. Otherwise we never could have gotten through four very difficult years relatively unscathed.
Now year five of the endless recession is upon us, complete with another (groan) presidential election year. We have neither the rainy-day hoard we had at the beginning of 2008, nor the special anniversary program that gave us an extra lift from late 2009 through mid-2011. But we’ve still got the most committed and generous community of support imaginable. Together we will strive even harder in the coming year to fulfill our mission of providing for the children of targeted activists.
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