Non-profit of the Year Nominee
Submitted by: Lisa Whetzel Executive Director Our Daily Bread, Inc.
1. What is your mission and vision?
For 32 years, Our Daily Bread, Inc. (ODB) has been a dedicated leader in developing sustainable solutions to meet the challenges of low-income working families through emergency assistance, financial literacy and one-on-one mentoring. We evolved from an interfaith effort providing food to homeless families from a founder’s basement to a secular community based organization serving 4,000 unduplicated families annually with a variety of needs. ODB is a volunteer-based organization that draws over 2,000 volunteers from local faith-based groups, community organizations, local businesses, schools and universities. These volunteers help us provide short-term safety net services to over 700 families annually, helping them to avoid becoming homeless.
We offer additional services along a continuum of care once a family stabilizes. We also provide two seasonal programs, the Holiday Program serving 3,000 families and the Back to School program for 2,500 students, joining a consortium of providers to leverage buying power and stretches the donor dollar. ODB pursues collaborations in all its programs whenever possible and has hundreds of community partners throughout the Northern Virginia area. To meet our vision of Bridging Need to Empowerment, we are strengthening our infrastructure to be adaptable and ready to seize opportunities to meet the ever-changing needs of low income families. This includes working with Compass to strengthen our Board http://bit.ly/ODB-Compass, implementing a fundraising plan (including rebranding and mobile-ready website) to diversify funding sources, building a strong employee retention plan, and conducting cyclical evaluations of our programs to ensure they are making a difference http://bit.ly/ODBAnnualReport2014
2. How does your organization achieve its mission?
The book Forces for Good by Crutchfield and McLeod Grant, identifies 6 practices of high impact nonprofits. ODB adopted five of these as our guiding principles. We “serve and advocate”. Putting food on the table and a roof overhead for 700 families every year is critical to helping them avoid homelessness. http://bit.ly/BBTLightHouseFood4 Thought Through ODB’s influence via VOICE, Fairfax City Council recently adopted a Referendum on Affordable Housing, which directly impacts our clients’ ability to thrive independently. http://bit.ly/ODB-VOICE-success We “inspire evangelists.” We learned early on to value our 2,000 volunteers. http://bit.ly/JenkinsVolFxAward Two volunteer mentors created a webinar about ODB’s Financial Mentoring Program model which was aired nationally.
Our volunteers make a difference, as seen by the 100+ clients enrolled in our one-on-one programs who have an 80% success rate of achieving their goals. (http://bit.ly/ODBPBKesha) Additionally, 55% of our funding comes from grassroots donors and we won Best Charity in Northern Virginia last year. (http://bit.ly/ODBVLMagBestCharityhttp://bit.ly/ODBCTC2015) We “nurture nonprofit networks” and “share leadership.” Using peer relationships, we collaborated and won grants http://bit.ly/ODB-FFO-Food4Thought, established MOU’s with multiple partners across the area www.odbfairfax.org/finlitFCC and adapted programs to more efficient models https://www.odbfairfax.org/BacktoSchool. We are “masters in the art of adaptation.” We embrace smart change. We run a financially tight ship, retain employees averaging 4 years, maximize new technology (procuring quality equipment, offering remote access, use open source CIVI-CRM, early adopters of social media). Sustainable revenue growth has enabled ODB to launch programs, expand capacity, and absorb programs that produce results. Rebranding launch in June 2016!
3. How have your programs directly impacted the regional community?
4. What inspires or drives your team to stay committed to your mission?
I see that as a two part question. Our client’s success stories inspire all of us to continue working hard to provide programs that empower them. But without an inspiring employee culture, people would look elsewhere to work on a similar mission. We have a bottoms up approach to creating programs and the budget. We offer flexible schedules, remote access, and most importantly autonomy (with accountability). Employees are invested in the success of their programs and thereby their clients.
5. What advice would you give to other nonprofits trying to make an impact in their community?
Seek opportunities to collaborate to achieve broader impact on the people you serve.