Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How could 'Walking for Dreams 2010' benefit your Organization?

Last year, 17 non profits and 425 walkers raised over $60,000. Over the past 7 years, close to 100 organizations have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, in total. I have been involved since the 2nd or 3rd year walking for several different organizations. I think of 'Walking for Dreams' as the walk-a-thon event for organizations who: 1) aren't big enough to do their own event or 2) don't want to spend valuable volunteer or staff time on event organizing, or 3) want to gather a group of their supporters around fund raising for one particular program.

Here's how it works: There is a $250 upfront fee but then the Sycamore Foundation plans, manages, and runs the event. They even provide an on-line donation website where your walkers can form teams and receive donations. All your nonprofit does is solicit walkers to participate and raise funds for your organization. Whether you have 5 walkers or 50, it is a fun event and can raise a meaningful amount of money for the effort you invest.

Promoted as the 'Walking for Dreams Family and Pet 5k Walk', the event encompasses just a couple hours of a beautiful Sunday afternoon on the scenic Canal Walk downtown. The energy is terrific, the colors are bright, the faces are happy. Each organization is assigned a table to greet and gather their walkers plus promote their organization to others in attendance. Everyone steps out together and then winds their way through the walk route and back to food and festivities at their own pace.

A Walk-a-thon event is a great way to introduce people to your organization, a good strategy to give reluctant board members or staff a 'harmless' way to talk about your organization with friends and family, and a nice time for social connection between people who care about your organization.

To learn more or get signed up for the May 23, 2010 event, visit and call 317-260-0669.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Are Federal Poverty Guidelines for Income Meaningful?

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Indiana 2009 released by the Indiana Institute for Working Families (Institute), a program of the Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA), shows that more Hoosiers are lacking the resources needed to meet their basic needs. The Self-Sufficiency Standard is a more meaningful measure of income adequacy compared to the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). According to the FPG, families are characterized as "poor" if their income is below the FPG and "not poor" if their incomes are above them.

For example, the FPG for a family of three in 2009 is $18,310 annually, the equivalent of earning $8.80 an hour for full-time employment. According to the 2009 Self-Sufficiency Standard, a family of three - consisting of one adult, one preschooler, and one school age child - is $42,117 annually - the equivalent of earning $19.94 an hour or approximately 230 percent of the FPG. This Standard Wage incorporates the cost of a two bedroom housing unit, the cost of full-time child care, food, health care, transportation, and taxes in Marion County. For this family type in Marion County, they must earn wages that are almost three times the current Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25 per hour.

Earlier this month the U.S. Census Bureau released 2008 American Community Survey data showing that Indiana's median household income has declined to $47,699 and is lower than it was in 2000. Additionally, the number of Hoosiers living in poverty has increased as reflected in the state's poverty rate of 13.1 percent – based on the FPG. "However, if a more accurate measure of the amount of income needed by families was used, as opposed to the FPG, we would find even more Hoosiers are not earning enough to meet their basic needs," said Lisa Travis, with the Institute. The Self-Sufficiency Standard shows family earnings can be well above the official FPG yet below what is needed for families to meet their basic needs. To view the full report, visit the News and Update section on IN-CAA's homepage at