Project Open Hand Pulls Out of Rough Spot
A San Francisco nonprofit that prepares and delivers meals to critically ill homebound clients, seniors, and those living with HIV/AIDS is pulling out of a rough patch.
Just over a year ago, Project Open Hand, which has a budget of about $9.3 million, was facing a wide deficit, while longtime Executive Director Tom Nolan prepared to leave. Not long after Kevin Winge, 54, took over the top job last January, he announced four staff positions were being cut, and adjustments would be made to services for some clients. The nonprofit eventually had to pull $750,000 from its reserve in order to fill a budget gap in the 2011-12 fiscal year.
Since then, however, the fiscal outlook has improved for the agency, which delivers 2,600 meals a day. So far, the 2012-13 budget is balanced, and "December was the most successful single month for fundraising in our 27-year history," Winge said.
"The staff, our volunteers, the board - everyone seems really encouraged, and we’re ready to keep building on what Tom Nolan worked so hard to put in place," he added.
Along with delivering meals, POH also distributes groceries weekly to about 1,500 people, mostly in San Francisco, but also about 300 in Alameda County. The organization has over 100 staff, and there are more than 100 volunteers every day.
In a recent interview, Winge said the agency ended the first six months of the current fiscal year "slightly ahead of revenue projections and slightly below on the expense side."
Through December 31, projected revenue was $5.1 million, but actual revenue was $5.6 million. The agency anticipated $4.76 million in expenses, but spent only $4.5 million.
Additionally, December was Project Open Hand’s best month ever in terms of gifts from individual donors. The agency raised $645,193 from individuals through direct mail and email solicitations, which is up from the $527,209 raised in December 2011.
The positive figures are the result of "a whole lot of work," Winge said.
"I hope a part of it was being totally transparent about the deficit" the agency faced last year, which it seems "motivated the staff and our board of directors to really be proactive on watching expenses." He said that people "really being out there and raising money" was another part of it, and volunteers and donors "were really rising to the occasion to support Project Open Hand in light of the deficit," among other factors.
Service changes, combined with efficiencies in purchasing, have enabled Project Open Hand to reduce program costs by $300,000 for the first half of the fiscal year, according to the agency.
Last April, the nonprofit announced some programmatic changes, asking clients with HIV who were in better health to choose between grocery service and meals, rather than continuing to receive both. The agency began implementing the change in June.
The agency doesn’t plan additional service cuts.
POH client Sylvia Britt, 49, goes to Project Open Hand once a week for groceries.
Britt, who’s HIV-positive, has a job, but she’s on a limited budget. Going to POH helps "to make sure I have some healthy food in the house, and not have to worry about having money to get it."