At the beginning of March Harvest Hope took the unprecedented step of announcing we were facing a fiscal crisis and were launching a funding drive to help raise cash to pay off recent debt and shore up finances to prepare for the coming need. We announced through the media we needed to raise $2 million between now and the end of June, and as much of it as possible as soon as possible.
For more than four years now, the increase in need for our mission work of providing food to the hungry has not abated. From 2008 to 2010 we saw a 91% increase in our service to hungry families.
In the last six months, the number of families we have fed has increased by 42 percent over the same period a year earlier.
Our resources are stretched thin across the 20 counties we serve. Just operating our fleet of vehicles that deliver food throughout our region costs us $3,100 a day. Harvest Hope depends on its fleet of trucks to pick up and deliver food throughout our 20 county service area, and so this is an expense we have to afford, no matter how much gas increases.
Yet we are suffering from a steady decline in donations, especially the corporate and large gift donations that do so much to help with our operating costs. Now due to the steady increase in demand, the rise in operational costs and the decline in large donations we find ourselves in an economic crisis.
The $2 million goal is not an arbitrary figure pulled out of thin air, but a number arising from a combination of factors to include the accelerating increase in need, the rise in unavoidable expenses, the continuing decline in cash contributions and projections based on what we know will be an increase in need to feed hungry children during the summer of 2011.
These factors caused us to take a hard look at the reality of our operation and situation and to make the difficult decision to let the community know what we are facing. It was not an easy decision to make. And while we are still far from achieving the $2 million goal we set to help lift us out of our current economic crisis and prepare for the immediate future, I am happy to report that the initial reaction has been supportive and I have tentative hopes the community will continue to open their hearts and give to help us reach our goal.
We were helped by a generous matching campaign made by the Mungo Company, a long-time contributor and friend to Harvest Hope. They agreed to provide $150,000 if the community donates to a level that doubles that amount. I am pleased to announce we are close to achieving that amount. I want to thank everyone who responded to our cries for donations to help us make it this far. But there is a long way to go.
For the communities we serve, Harvest Hope is the institution that is too big to fail. We are the food safety net for almost half the state. Our 476 member agencies that feed the hungry in their communities – churches, private charities, others – depend on Harvest Hope too much. For 30 years we have worked with these organizations around the state to identify pockets of poverty and directly provide food to individuals and families in need. We cannot fail and we will not fail. Too many in our state depend on us.
We are NOT failing. We are not going away. We are getting the job done, despite the challenges before us. But for the first time, we have gone into a financial hole doing so, and we need your help to get out of it, and continue the mission.
The easiest way to help is to visit our website at www.harvesthope.org and click on the Donation button. You’ll go right to a convenient donation screen.
We have never asked for help of this nature before. Honestly, I never thought we would have to. But over the last few months we have accepted the inevitability of this. We need your help to reach our $2 million goal. It is not an impossible goal. Many are already responding. Help us make sure we can continue providing the safety net that so many need.
God Bless You for Your Compassion,
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. - Proverbs 11:24-25
A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor. - Proverbs 22:9