Cover Story: Safety Line
And for Vehicles for Change, making more money off donated vehicles by selling them from the Freedom Wheels lot rather than at auction means a greater tax deduction for vehicle donors. In fact, Schwartz says, the program generates about double what the organization would get for the same vehicles at auction.
Still, for many organizations, most of which are unaccustomed to focusing on the bottom line in the same way businesses do, charging market rate fees for services can take some getting used to.
“When your mission is to serve and you try to serve regardless of a family’s ability to pay, and all of a sudden now you are saying we’re not going to serve you unless you pay us and pay us at a competitive rate, it is a culture shift,” says Nobili, who was accustomed to sliding-scale fees before venturing into for-profit territory. “We had to talk about it; the board did, our staff did. But it was done in service of the mission, which helps us get by that and get through that. It’s very hard for us still to turn down school systems that we know could use [our services] but can’t pay.”
For this reason, it’s important when getting leadership and board buy-in that everyone is on the same page and comfortable with the organization charging for some of the services it provides. Nobili says she looks forward to a time when Achieve Consulting is doing well enough that it can offer some partial scholarships for services. But she takes heart knowing that the funds generated by the consulting program and high-ropes course enable the organization to improve its services to better serve those with disabilities.
“We want to be true to our mission of serving as many children [as possible],” Nobili says. “When you have a child with a disability, middle-income families can and do go bankrupt. It’s a very costly endeavor here. So we feel passionately no child’s future should be compromised because of their inability to pay, so we thought Achieve Consulting and the high-ropes [course] would help us toward that end. It will not be the single solution; it’s just part of the solution.”