B&G Club in ‘good place,’ leaders say in meeting

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Greater Santiam is in good shape right now thanks to how the Sweet Home community stepped up this past year to help cover a large funding gap, according to Ron Moore, co-chairman of the Sweet Home Branch Council.

The club has also made some adjustments to improve its transparency and local control, with the establishment of a local council, headed by Moore and Scott Melcher.

“We are in a good place, and we want to stay in that good place,” Moore reported Thursday evening at a “State of the Club” presentation held in the Sweet Home Branch. “We can’t do that without the support of our community.”

His was a message of gratitude and optimism, tempered by the fact the club will continue to need support going forward.

“When there’s desperation, people come out and want to help out,” Moore said. When things are going all right, people don’t as much. That’s the nature of nonprofits.

Club officials want sustainable funding without going to desperate measures, he said. That’s where the new council comes in. It reviews the financial side of the club and determines a plan around the funds it needs to raise.

“We kind of manage what’s going on here and keep our thumbs on black-red (the financial situation),” Moore said.

He outlined accomplishments in 2015, including a continued focus on academic support, increased training for program staff, additional activities, more small-group and individual activities and a new program called “Great by Eighth.”

In athletics, the club improved organization and communication, said Athletic Director Mike Carpenter. It created the JBO board of directors to help organize the baseball program. The club also reached out to high school coaches to begin orienting the club’s sports as feeder programs, and the club replaced aging equipment.

“I grew up in a rough environment, a rough home,” said staffer Tim Schatz. The club helped him as he grew up. After graduation, he remained involved and is now the elementary coordinator for the Sweet Home Branch.

Moore said the club is important to Sweet Home’s future.

“What we do today for our children will drive what happens in our community tomorrow. It’s a safe place to come to learn, to socially engage with other kids.”

The club provides after-school programs to help struggling families trying to make ends meet, improve academic performance, keep children safe while parents are at work and keep children active, increasing their overall health and well-being. It also is an economic development tool.

From 2005 to 2008, the Sweet Home club had a funding gap, Moore said. “That is why we merged. Lebanon had some of the same struggles.”

Together, the two organizations could seek out grants and funding they might not qualify for alone, he said, and from some sources, it might mean more funding.

The Roseburg-based Ford Family Foundation thought the merger was a good idea and helped fund it, Moore said. The foundation, whose mission is to promote responsibility and initiative in rural communities, continues to support the club today.

Average daily attendance at the club is running at about 120 to 125 right now, Moore said. Total membership was 744 in 2015, down from 852 in 2014. Athletic participation was 516 in 2015, down from 577 in 2014.

Last year, to address funding shortfalls, the club and the new council started seeking support. They also looked at the fee structure, increasing it from $5 per month to $20 per month. That was designed with a sliding scale based on income.

Most families are paying something each month, Moore said. “we had to increase them but keep them reasonable so we didn’t lose a lot of kids.”

Football fees nearly doubled, but were still lower than those in other communities, he said.

On the expenditure side, athletic expenses were $81,000 in 2015, down from $82,000 in 2014, Moore said. Revenue was up, from $59,000 to $64,000, though sponsorships were down. That left a gap of $17,000 in funding for 2015, down from $23,000.

“Our goal is to have athletics be self-sustaining,” Moore said. “We have more work to do.”

Total expenses for core programs, which excludes athletics, was $380,000 in 2015, $1,000 less than in 2014.

Total revenue for Sweet Home was $432,000 in 2015, up from $300,000 in 2014, leaving the club’s core programs $52,000 in the black in 2015, swinging away from a deficit of $81,000 in 2014.

Giving and local fund-raising efforts brought in $248,000. Of that, the annual auction brought in $132,000, up from $108,000. Direct donations increased from $23,000 to $108,000, while other fund-raising fell off from $15,000 to $8,000. Other revenue, including grants, fees, sponsorships and the food program generated $184,000.

Sweet Home’s share of organizational expenses was $107,000 in 2015. Combined, all expenses for Sweet Home was $568,000.

Total revenue was $432,000, leaving the Sweet Home Branch $136,000 in the red.

This information provided by the club does not appear to reflect athletic revenues, $64,000, which would reduce the total to $72,000. The New Era did not receive requested clarification prior to press time.

Sweet Home doesn’t have to cover the entirety of that total, Moore said. That’s why the clubs merged in the first place. And Sweet Home met the organizational goals to keep the program moving forward without significant changes.

“As long as Sweet Home can raise up to half its budget, we can maintain,” Moore said.

As a result of the local community’s fund-raising effort last year, this is the first time that the organization as a whole has operated in the black, Moore said.

“We can support each other together and be successful. If we as a community can continue to support this organization, it’s only going to get better.”

Many of the donations last year were large one-time donations, Moore said. That’s where, going forward, the club needs commitments to regular monthly giving by individuals, to the tune of about $10,000 per month, $120,000 per year.

The club can set up regular donations as automatic withdrawals for those who are interested, and it can do the same thing the old-fashioned way, on paper, for those who aren’t comfortable doing it online. It also has third-party partnerships available, such as the pledge by Sweet Home truck drivers to pay 50 cents per load they carry.

Others include Subway, The Point Restaurant and A&W. Lebanon Brewfest is a nonprofit event that has pledged its proceeds to the club.

Whenever it can, the club promotes businesses that set up a third-party partnership.

“We have solved our issue for the time being,” Moore said. “We hope that we have regained the trust (of the community).”

In any case, the club will need help to continue to support its programs, he said.

For more information about giving or about the club and its programs, call (541) 367-6421. Also visit bcggreatersantiam.com.