An Interview With Meryl Sheriden, Chief Development Officer, Horizons for Homeless Children
When we think of homelessness, we typically visualize single adults wandering the streets with grocery carts or sleeping on a park bench. While this continues to be the case in many cities, most people are surprised to learn that homeless families are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population and make up over 40 percent of that population. Spreading that message across the state and country is one of our biggest challenges.
Once people learn about the problem, they may feel that their contribution is too small to make a difference in combating such an overwhelming problem. Our challenge is to educate people about the issue and the many ways they can make a difference in the lives of these children.
2. Budget: As an agency, Horizons for Homeless Children is extremely committed to maintaining a low administrative cost. It is based on an underlying philosophy that as much as possible of the funds raised should be allocated to our direct service programs for homeless children and their families, and the maintenance and refinement of program content and delivery. In directing funds to program, agency fundraising efforts often operate with reduced budgets and, therefore, aggressively seek out pro bono or steeply discounted means of executing annual plans.
3. Economy: The challenging economic climate has posed obstacles in fundraising efforts at Horizons for Homeless Children. While no organization has been exempt, we are fortunate to have a very committed board of directors and remain in healthy fiscal shape. Our individual donors have remained loyal to our purpose, and their levels of giving in the past two years have helped sustain the agency. Also, our mission itself is one that has [piqued] the interest of the community at large. Because of the current economic challenges, the issue of family homelessness is one that has gained new attention, and this in a way has helped Horizons for Homeless Children build awareness of the work that we do.