Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado raised $100,000 in the final months of the year, putting the nonprofit on solid financial ground after it faced a major budget shortfall.
“I am just in disbelief to tell you the truth. It’s just fabulous how this community responded,” said Paul Plvan, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The nonprofit that provides one-on-one mentorship to children received donations from 592 people as part of its campaign to raise $100,000 and several last-minute grants at the end of the year that allowed the nonprofit to break even in 2019 and set the organization on solid financial ground through the first half of 2020, Plvan said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters started its campaign to raise $100,000 to sponsor 100 mentorships in August and stepped up its call for donations in November. The nonprofit raised about $70,000 through donations from Thanksgiving through the end of December, Plvan said.
The nonprofit needed the infusion of donations to keep its doors open because it faced cash-flow problems with no savings to fall back on.
It had also faced a $50,000 shortfall in its budget, in part because its annual fishing tournament had to be canceled after the fish die-offs in the Animas River as a result of the 416 Fire.
The nonprofit has also seen declines in revenue sources, including donations, grants and proceeds from special events over the last three to four years. The nonprofit’s inability to show break-even financials in 2019 had also made it ineligible for some grant funds, Plvan said.
In 2020, the nonprofit expects to be on more solid financial ground because of the successful recent campaign, a focus on reoccurring donations and grant support from the judicial system that is flowing through Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, among other sources of financial support, Plvan said.
The “sizable” judicial system grant will provide support for a year and can be renewed for two additional years, he said. Plvan declined to name the amount of the grant.
Judicial system support for Big Brothers Big Sisters is a good fit because the mentorship the nonprofit provides to children helps to decrease the likelihood they will use drugs and alcohol and increases the likelihood of them graduating from high school and pursuing higher education, Plvan said.
Currently, the nonprofit is serving 76 children in Durango, Bayfield and Pagosa Springs and has 11 children on its waiting list for a mentor, he said. The nonprofit expects to serve 100 children through mentorships in 2020, he said.
In the coming year, Big Brothers Big Sisters also expects to focus more on communicating its success stories to help donors and residents understand the impact the mentorships are having.
“We have wonderful stories every single day that I have been exposed to,” he said.
The nonprofit also wants to encourage residents to give small reoccurring donations, such as $5 a month, to help sustain the organization.
The nonprofit expects to move away from depending on events for revenue because events can be unreliable and Durango residents can be inundated with them. But it plans to maintain some of its signature events, such as Bowl For Kids’ Sake in March and its summer golf tournament. It has not decided whether to bring back its fishing tournament, Plvan said.