Steady Takeoff: Starting Up in a Down Economy
A new nonprofit organization, just as a small business, can face a tough uphill climb in its early years. However, one Lawton organization is paving its way to an unlikely success, even in the midst of economic challenges.
“We’ve had a banner year,” says Linda Mask, board member of Family Promise of Lawton – a banner year that means a world of difference to many of Lawton’s homeless.
Family Promise aids homeless families in the Lawton area. “We help displaced homeless families get back on their feet through our community, our churches and the love of individuals,” Mask says.
“We are three years young; babies in this market of nonprofits,” explains Mask. In spite of their youth, they have built the framework for a successful and sustainable organization.
It wasn’t always so clear they would succeed.
Many organizations spend their inaugural years trying to go it alone, before finding out the model doesn’t work, often ending up with too many expenses and too little awareness of the organization’s good work.
Mark Ashton, former president of Family Promise, decided to take another route, focusing on connecting to the nonprofit community.
Ashton introduced Family Promise to the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, an organization providing assistance to nonprofits through training, consulting, advocacy, memberships, networking and awards.
Like any other fledgling organization, “we were a little bit afraid to spend our money,” explains Mask. The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits provides essential training on the basics of running a nonprofit, but Family Promise wasn’t sure they should commit the money.
They decided to take the plunge.
Several members of Family Promise took training on grantwriting and fundraising and because of those classes, “were able to go from getting small grants to getting larger ones.”
“Everything that happened once we were connected with the Center has increased our knowledge, made us sharper, and gotten our name out there.”
By creating a partnership with Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, Family Promise maximizes their resources in order to provide their clients with the best possible service.
The most recent chapter in the story came on April 14, 2012 when Family Promise received $7,500 in cash from the Center’s ONE Awards event.
“It was beyond my comprehension,” Mask says of hearing their name called that night, and accepting the award.
For those who would like to contribute to the continuing success story of Family Promise, donations of cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items and gift cards from grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations are always appreciated.
Any kind of support is appreciated Linda Mask says, “Because every step we take to be bigger and better only helps our families.”