Littleton, Colorado-based nonprofit Summit Cancer Solutions has offered cancer-specific exercise programs to cancer patients and survivors for the last eight years. Like so many other nonprofit organizations in recent months, Summit Cancer Solutions’ funding sources are strained due to the current economic condition.
“We unexpectedly lost half of our funding in November when the state canceled (some of) its grants due to the fiscal emergency,” executive director Therese Thompson said. “Fortunately, with the help of the Colorado Compassion Initiative (CCI), we have strengthened Summit’s organizational capacity the past two years and now have the ‘luxury’ of time to think about how best to operate in terms of sustainability.”
CCI is a capacity building program for faith-based and community organizations that provide services to people 55 and older and involve this population as leaders and volunteers. JVA Consulting has served as an intermediary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Compassion Capital Fund (CCF) through CCI since 2002.
Part of CCI’s capacity building model is to guide grantee organizations toward sustainability. In this case, Summit Cancer Solutions was prepared for emergencies by having financial reserves in place. Accepted practice is for nonprofits to have three to six months’ operating expenses available in the bank for contingencies and emergencies. This way, in the event that funding falls through, the organization can still maintain normal business operations while plans for other funding can be developed.
“We are not panicked and we are not desperate. But we do need to figure this out,” Thompson said.
By confronting financial sustainability early on and preparing for unforeseen circumstances, Summit Cancer Solutions was able to react and survive in the face of lost funding.
“Even with this set back, we are strong,” Thompson said. “During strategic planning last year, JVA pushed the board pretty hard in order to address our most pressing questions, some of which they had been discussing for years. It was a really useful session and put us in a place where we could react positively once we found out the funding was gone.”
On January 28, JVA will announce the grantees for Year 3 of CCI. This year, grantees will have the opportunity to further strengthen their sustainability through a technical assistance track focused on social enterprise strategies. To read more about CCI, click here.