Funding: Then and Now Posted: November 05, 2012

While over the years we have strived towards the same mission, to enable the low-income, elderly, and those living with disabilities to become more self-sufficient, how we provide those services has changed and is continually shifting.

President Lyndon B. Johnson started legislation to fight poverty in 1964 in response to a national poverty rate of nineteen percent. The Economic Opportunity Act, unofficially named The War on Poverty, was passed by Congress , and established the Office of Economic Opportunity to administer the use of local federal funds to low-income communities. This led to the founding of OLHSA, which was then known as The Oakland County Commission on Economic Opportunity.

Funds started as strictly federal, but as the poverty rate held strong and the social issue of poverty fell off the national agenda OLHSA was faced with the need to find different sources to fund our programs.  State and local funding has supplemented our core federal funding over the years, and we are constantly seeking both public and private grants.

We are facing harder economic times in the last few years, resulting in public funding sources becoming more unreliable while the demand for services continues to rise. Our solution? Spread our mission and build support from the community. We are working to do this in a few ways:

  • Work to earn the privilege of private donations. We aim to treat every donor and volunteer like a stake-holder in our organization, showing them the impact of donations and most importantly, thanking them for their effort and investment. This past year we launched our first direct mail campaign to raise private dollars for our programs, and we continue to ramp up other fundraising initiatives.
  • Combine forces. We work to build mutually beneficial relationships with local businesses and organizations in order to make a bigger impact. In 2010 OLHSA partnered with Gleaners Community Food Bank to expand Shared Harvest Food Pantry in Howell, combining costs and resources to serve more residents facing hunger. Additionally, the clients of Shared Harvest are learning about other services available to them through both Gleaners and OLHSA.  
  • Get people talking. Our goal is to spark conversation about hardships for local families and the way OLHSA is meeting their needs; we share success stories and use the media to convey our passion for helping the community. If anything news worthy happens here at OLHSA, we want people to know!

The change has been gradual but overall notable. Starting with 100 percent federal funds in 1964 and now averaging only 70 percent over the past ten years has taken some adjustments. That leaves 30 percent of our funding to state, local and private dollars. Even with these uncertain economic times, our generous neighbors have helped us average 10 percent privately raised funds over the last eight years. We are working hard every day to nurture these relationships and continue to gain private support.

Interested in learning how you can help? Click here to learn more about volunteering and donating.