with Hogan and Hartson who represented the tenants at Kelsey Gardens and Vinson and Elkins who represent Manna CDC. We say thank you to them and all our other supporters.
JIM: We have a lot of folk who help us raise money, do political advocacy, spread the word and add value in so many ways. We have a couple of boards with wonder- ful people who serve voluntarily in helping guide Manna and make it a stable, sound organization.
JONI: Fundraising. Now there’s an im- portant topic. Who wants to address that one?
JIM: Affordable housing and community and economic development is a very capital intensive business and it takes a significant amount of money—grant money—to make up the difference in what people we serve can pay and what it actually cost to do our work as successfully as we do. Fund- raising presents us with a great opportunity to help people who contribute to be a part of an experience that is making a huge positive difference in people’s lives and the community, and we are grateful for large and small contributions. It all counts.
DOMINIC: Manna CDC’s fundraising and accounting support through Manna, Inc. is really a testament to creating a sus- tainable community development corpora- tion. We share staff and resources, which is a good model in maintaining a small and adaptable organization. We appreciate all the hard work the Corporate Development, Accounting, and CDC staff do in order to raise money to support the community and our organization.
GEORGE: Last year was a record year in fundraising, but we learned in the beginning from Jim not to rely on outside sources. We want them and need them and could not exist without them, but we must always supplement them. While last year was excellent, this year won’t be--as we received notice from three longtime foundations that they were reducing grant amounts to Manna. These decisions had nothing to do with Manna’s performance,
because our relationships are still strong and we’ve been encouraged to come back in the future. So we weren’t surprised, just disappointed.
Our two main fundraising events—which are produced in-house—raised over $130,000 net.
We also introduced a new event—The Manna Corporate Breakfast. The purpose of the event is to raise Manna’s profile in the business and legal communities, not to raise money directly. Our first Breakfast was hosted by the law firm of Arnold & Porter with Jim Johnson, the former head of Fannie Mae, Brookings Institution, and Kennedy Center, as our honorary chair and featured speaker. Jim did a fabulous job as usual and gave his imprimatur to the event which will help us every year, and this event was extremely successful and will become another annual event for us.
JONI: Manna has gained quite a reputa- tion for its business-like manner and legal structure which includes both for-profit and nonprofit subsidiaries. How did this come about and what’s been it’s impact on Manna?
GEORGE: Dominic and I have been at Manna about 10 years each. As I said before Jim counseled us not to rely on gov- ernment or foundation funding. While it’s important, he said, it can change quickly. “When you get it, it’s great; when it’s cut, you’d better have a back-up plan.” We took that advice to heart. For Manna, I looked at our strengths early-on and realized we had a large, talented staff which could be used more efficiently. The nature of real estate development isn’t smooth, and we do everything in-house and do it fairly well. Therefore, we have a lot of mouths to feed, but because of doing it our way, we’re nimble and can respond quickly to events and opportunities. Every part of our opera- tion is not at full capacity all the time. The challenge is to find outside work to fill the gaps of time during pre-development peri- ods. So, over the years we established a for- profit construction management company, a nonprofit mortgage company, and an in-house consulting arm which does con-
struction, design, and other development services work for other nonprofits. Last year we added a new service and began selling affordable housing for others. In 2004 we generated approximately $524,000 from the outside activities related to our mission, and during the four previous years, about $3.9 million in outside revenues. Remem- ber, though, these are revenue figures, not figures net of expenses.
The term sustainability is used frequently in the nonprofit world. We subscribe to the concept. We’ll do our best to become sustainable, but we recognize we’ll never become completely self-supporting. The nature of our business—affordable housing development and community building— won’t permit it.
DOMINIC: We have a saying at Manna CDC which is “small is beautiful.” Our impact is measured in organizing tenants to be part owners of a $20 million tenant purchase with their development partner. We show measurable results and impact by placing 74 local residents in good jobs through Enterprising Staffing Solutions. Chain Reaction and MaggieMoo’s create economic and social value by providing jobs and fun for local residents. At the end of the day Manna CDC creates public and social value in Shaw by leveraging over $600,000 budget into jobs, retail sales revenue, and investment controlled by the community.
GEORGE: Joni, you’re new to Manna; you’ve been here less than a year. What would you like to say about fundraising?
JONI: It’s a little more demanding than my previous position because Manna is larger organization and needs more fund- ing. Fortunately, I’m not alone and have an excellent assistant in Anne-Claire. But essentially it’s similar work, just on a larger scale. I just had to learn a new cast of characters. I love working with the people here at Manna and am looking forward to a long, productive career here.
JONI: Let’s talk about the future for Manna CDC.
DOMINIC: We are quickly approach-
ing our 10th anniversary. We got started in 1997 and worked diligently with resident-led initiatives to become a very productive and resourceful community-based organization. Our future mission and vision is captured in one phrase: “exercise political strength to continually preserve economic and racial eq- uity in Shaw”. 2007 is our 10th anniversary year. We want to make significant progress towards this performance challenge by the time we turn 10. We encourage others to join us in meeting this challenge. Everyone we talk to in Shaw echo sentiments, which say that we want to live in an economically and culturally diverse neighborhood. This is not achievable without racial and economic equity. We are challenged to share the pie.
How will we get there? We will create a strategic business plan with this challenge in mind. We will use popular education as a tool to teach our community advisors, board members, and community partners. Our community organizing work will result in tenant purchases, a future popularized docu- ment on displacement in Shaw, and Shaw Freedom schools which will be community education forums on how we will deal with issues of poverty, race, class, and discrimina- tion in a city divided by these issues. We are building bridges and mending fences to build a “better community and NOT a dif- ferent community.”
Our SMART (specific-measurable-achiev- able-realistic-time bound) goals will lead to greater participation in Shaw Education for Action and the Shaw Equitable Development Initiative, to hotel jobs, partnerships with the National Capital Revitalization Corpo- ration, local business ownership, affordable rental and home ownership housing for long time residents, and a bi-annual Manna CDC newsletter. You can measure our perfor- mance by these qualitative and quantitative outcomes.
The future will be challenging as the organi- zation develops and grows. However, we are not afraid to see a better future for long time residents and others who are ready to face the challenges before us.
GEORGE: We operate in such a dynamic economic and political environment that it’s
really difficult for a nonprofit with limited capital to plan. We have to constantly adapt to new situations. It’s old news about the rapid housing price increases throughout our area. It’s real, it’s continu- ing, and we must continue to deal with it. And deal with it in new ways.
In the past Manna developed only hom- eownership properties in DC. A few years ago we began involvement with tenant associations to help them buy proper- ties they were renting; hence, preserv- ing affordable housing. We’re still doing both, and more with the latter. As I see the future, that trend will continue. The acquisition costs of properties—exist- ing or vacant land—are just too great, in all areas of the city, for Manna to acquire by itself. Of course, there may be an exception here and there, but they will be exceptions. The next few years should reflect the past few years. Looking ahead 5-10 years, we will continue to be opportunistic by partnering with other nonprofits and some for-profit companies, working more with tenant organiza- tions, perhaps venturing into some of the distressed close-in suburbs, and taking on some rental projects. While doing this, our technical assistance to other nonprofit will be increasing as will our roles in partnership with for profits in large scale projects where they need the help of an experienced, full-service affordable hous- ing organization.
JONI: Jim, you get the last words.
JIM: Enough said…let’s get to work. Manna continues to be a faith-based organization that operates on the Bibli- cal maxim that our name implies, “God provides manna from heaven.” Our job is to stay faithful to God’s call on our lives and organization…and the needs and desires…hopes and dreams of the people and communities we serve. So while somethings change, the essence of who we are never changes.
JONI: Thanks, guys.
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