2019 Annual Report: Finances and Outreach
We started 2019 financially strong and ended stronger: with the inevitable growing pains of a community on the rise. Our plans for 2020 are ambitious and community-centered. Our greatest lesson of 2019 was that our assets are people, and that means finding funding to keep the organization staffed.
Our 2019 Donors:
“I’m not able to give much, but I truly feel like you have impacted our lives for the good. Your message needs to be heard.” F.E.A.S.T. Donor 2019
Over the past 12 months we have thanked 169 individual donors who gifted our organization with $51,737.96 in amounts from $5 to $15,000. The average donation was $306, but the most common amount was $50. In 2018, our donations totaled $30,802.42: a significant jump in donations in one year! Why? We asked. Now that we have a fundraising committee we reached out and told our story, and the community responded.
Our re-occurring donations have increased in 2019 as well with an anticipated $1,120 per month pledged for 2020 ($13,440 USD annually). This steady income base is a foundation for moving towards sustainable funding for our organization in 2020 and beyond.
We were pleased in mid-2019 to receive a second year-long grant to fund paid staff, our Executive Director, for $60,000. We also received a grant from The Project HEAL for $10,000 to work together on a Communities of Healing for Primary Caregivers research study. An anonymous donation of $5,000 also arrived in late 2019. These generous donations and grants have changed the landscape of our organization by moving us from depending on the coordination of many volunteers to a simpler and more streamlined functioning. These larger grants are necessary to keep us going but also to show other grantors the value of our work. We hope for more such grants, and we have the professional infrastructure to utilize the grants well and responsibly. For more on our donors: our new Donors page.
We operate on a lean operating budget partially because our staff and volunteers work remotely from their own homes and on their own equipment. Our volunteers donate their own equipment and travel, as well as office supplies.
Our largest expenses are for staff to manage operations and volunteers, and which has been paid for up until now by restricted grants. Those two restricted grants both end in 2020 (Project HEAL in January, the CEO salary grant ends in June). Our task in 2020 is to develop a stable and renewing income and donation stream.
Our Financial Position:
Our net assets in cash were $125,609 on December 31, 2019, up from $64,866 at the same time last year. This increase includes funds on account for staffing through June 2020.
F.E.A.S.T. has been all-volunteer until 2018 and staffed full time only for 18 months now. The full-time position for our Executive Director, Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, has allowed for focused coordination of the organization, live and virtual events, outreach, and increased peer support. In 2019 our new website, funded by a family grant the year before, got off the ground with new publications and posts, social media engagement, and a new chat button.
Our 2nd annual FEAST of Knowledge was held in March in New York City and focused more attention on our unique work with our signature style: bringing together professionals and families to talk about treatment and research. That event was recorded and is now available online to the public for free. In 2019 F.E.A.S.T. collaborated with numerous organizations around the world, especially in the UK, Israel, US, and Canada, assuring that the parent voice and an emphasis on evidence-based information raised our profile and visibility.
“I loved the interactivity and the TED talk feel. It was very intimate and personal too.” (a FEAST of Knowledge participant)
Mid-year, another milestone was marked when we hired a Special Projects Coordinator, Kym Piekunka, who came on to assist with numerous projects and administration, including coordinating social media and fundraising. For the first time, F.E.A.S.T. participated in Giving Tuesday under Piekunka’s management, bringing in much-needed funding for our programs.
“I’ve done a LOT of volunteering with various orgs over the years and I need you to know this, never have I felt prouder of or more appreciated by a group of people. Thank you for so warmly embracing me, for your faith in me and for your vision of what I may be able to do!”
With this growth and outreach came inevitable growing pains. The Board of Directors realized the largely spontaneous donations of the past were not likely to be enough to keep paid staff in place. After outreach to the community and within our volunteer pool, F.E.A.S.T. decided at the December annual meeting to move to a membership model for the organization. While membership will be on an honor system and free of charge to any who ask, we look forward to building the sense of community that has been our history since 2007, and even earlier before our formal incorporation. F.E.A.S.T. is families, and our mission to support families in supporting one another is in keeping with a membership model. We are committed to remaining financially independent from marketing and advertising so no family will be distracted by financial influence.