EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Use report as guide on quality of life

2012-11-04T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Use report as guide on quality of lifeBy Lincoln Ellis nwitimes.com
November 04, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Social service organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana have many great stories to share – stories depicting life-altering situations their clients have experienced. While these stories serve a meaningful purpose, donors need and want to know more on how their contributions are impacting their communities.

As president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana, I understand a donor’s desire for this information, but I also know organizations, like ours, also need a tool to gauge successes with the larger community.

Recently, One Region released the latest Quality of Life Indicators Report for the region. I clearly remember reviewing the first Indicators Report upon my arrival to Northwest Indiana in 2003, and realized its importance immediately. The report became a tremendous tool for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana – shaping our agency’s plans as it provided an amazing assessment of critical issues for the region by giving a broad perspective and looking beyond just one agency, town, city or county.

I began using this document as a barometer to focus on very specific needs of our clients and measure progress in our abilities to meet those needs.

The original report gave my agency the ability to go beyond just sharing stories that tugged at the hearts of our donors, but provided statistical data indicating our needs were not alone. This became a vital tool for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana as our agency serves towns and cities across Lake County with our service areas reflecting the diversity of the region -- urban and rural, towns and cities, and individuals from a variety of cultures and ethnicities.

Our boards, staff, volunteers and club members began sharing the report data with prospective donors and grantors. We then developed logic models that indicated how our programs and services would impact lives. Metrics were established and systems instituted to monitor and measure our progress toward desired outcomes.

At the recent One Region luncheon, the former Quality of Life Council looked back over the years and shared how the region has changed in those selected indicator areas outlined in the original report.

I began to wonder the same about our clubs. How has Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana progressed since the release of the original report in 2003?

I compared our annual report data from 2002 to 2011 and was amazed to find that our clubs’ operating income rose by 79 percent, from $2.9 million in 2002 to $4.8 million, with the most significant growth coming from corporate and individual donations of $100,020 to $536,261, and government funding of $162,832 to $1,019,507.

In addition, our organization has been able to establish an endowment of more than $800,000 – revenue present and future to help us continue to serve youths and their families by providing them with positive and high-impact programs and services.

I understand that our clubs did not do this alone. Northwest Indiana is a caring and giving community, and when presented with facts on how contributions were used in a positive manner to impact the lives of those who need us most, our donors, boards and staff responded.

The newly released 2012 indicators report is no less powerful than the original. I encourage all to use this report to further the health and vitality of our great communities! 

Lincoln Ellis is president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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