Marriage Resource Center board adopts streamlined plan

Group lost 85 percent of its budget.

Its plan for this fiscal year, which runs through September 2016, includes four key points: a vow to remain operational, a need to inform the community of ongoing services, the approval of a $235,000 budget and a $50,000 fundraising drive.

The organization, which primarily assists couples with marriage-building skills and serves Clark, Champaign and Greene counties, lost a federal grant that provided $800,000 of the group’s $949,000 budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Executive Director Lavern Nissley admitted there’s disappointment in losing the grant, but said board members believe the organization will be better off in the long run.

“We’re not closing our doors,” he said. “(The board) didn’t even think about not providing services.”

About 73 percent of the center’sreduced $235,000 budget will now come from remaining government or foundation grants, 22 percent from donations and 5 percent from fees for services.

Bob Suver, Marriage Resource Center’s board president, is confident a workable transition is possible.

“We have a lot of infrastructure in place,” he said. “Now hopefully the community sees the value of what we’ve done. Sustainability comes from doing something that people appreciate the value of.”

Suver, a former Clark County Department of Job and Family Services director, has had experience in recovering from losing funding. The key to overcoming it, he said, was “being able to not bury your head in the sand and not ignoring the value of what you provide, but be somewhat nimble.”

Things could be worse, Suver said. Marriage Works in Dayton, which has a similar mission, also lost its funding and is down to one full-time employee.

“We do have some reserves and other sources of revenue,” Suver said. “When you talk to someone who doesn’t know a lot about it, they might say an 85 percent funding cut would put you out of business. But we know we can change and adjust and still make an impact.”

Suver said the organization feels blessed to be a part of a 43 percent drop in Clark County’s divorce rate from 1999 to 2014, according to the center’s research. The state rate dropped 27 percent during the same period, according to the same data.

“The community has the final vote” on how the transition will succeed, Nissley said. The organization began on Election Day an online “Vote and Share Your Support for Helping Marriages” campaign, which includes three opportunities to help — pray, give and serve.

Its first major fundraiser will tap into Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1. The center has $10,000 committed in matching funds. It takes place the day after Cyber Monday, a nationwide initiative on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving that encourages giving to non-profits. The center’s goal is too attract 200 new donors.

Information on both initiatives is available at mrcmv.org.

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