After six months of managing Affirmations as the interim executive director, Kevin Howley says that the organization is on track with its financial recovery process and that the search for a new executive director is moving along.
“Things at Affirmations are calm,” Howley said. “We are operating on a balanced budget and we are hitting our budget targets. Our ability to maintain our current business model is almost wholly reliant on individual donors as our projections for corporate and foundation funding have been met. Traffic and activities in the center have really picked up as more and more groups are ‘coming home’ to the center.”
Debt on the building is shrinking thanks to the Campaign for the Future, a push to raise the $1.25 million needed to give Affirmations a strong balance sheet by paying down debts and creating the financial liquidity needed to operate day-to-day. Thus far the campaign has raised more than $540,000.
“We continue to consistently make our mortgage payment each month. In fact, the mortgage is now down to $250,000. Six months ago the mortgage was more than $460,000,” said Howley. Arrangements have been made to push back the balloon mortgage payment from March 31 to May 31, giving Affirmations time to discuss financing options with the bank.
Annual giving has decreased, although other fundraising successes are causing Howley to be optimistic. On April 21, Affirmations received a $45,000 grant from the McGregor Fund to support its mental health counseling program for low-income LGBT clients. The March 19 Big Bash had 410 guests, compared to 276 last year. Overall, the center made $65,000 that night.
“When it comes to corporate and foundation giving over the last six months, we are right on target,” Howley said, admitting that “annual fund giving, especially with our Center Partner program, is lagging behind budget for this year.” The Center Partner program represents those donors that contribute $120 to $25,000 on an annual basis.
“With Big Bash behind us we are now turning our focus back to Center Partners to make sure people understand that it is critically important to support this annual giving program. Center Partner contributions represent approximately 25 percent of our annual budget. We keep reminding our faithful donors that corporate and foundation gifts are highly restricted to programming – we need Center Partner dollars to handle repairs and maintenance, pay the utilities and cover our commercial insurance.”
Howley noted that apart from the Big Bash and the AIDS Walk, Affirmations is trying to move away from event-oriented fundraising. “The events eat up lots of staff time and they really don’t make any money,” he said. “We continue to provide support to groups and organizations that want to plan and host events for the benefit of Affirmations.”
As Howley begins his seventh month as interim executive director, the board of directors prepares to see a second round of candidates to permanently fill the position. An outside search firm has been hired and candidates from all over the country have been applying. “The search firm has shared with us that their ability to attract strong candidates to consider this ED position has been greatly enhanced of late by what has happened on the ground over the last six months at Affirmations – balanced budget, operating calm, significant debt reduction and an upswing in community support,” Howley said.