In 1988, Marshall Cohen started Lift For Life Gym (LFLG), then, a youth weightlifting team in the basement of Globes Drugs in downtown St. Louis. The purpose of LFLG was to offer impoverished youth constructive, recreational opportunities as an alternative to idleness, crime, drugs, and violence. The program grew over the next 28 years into a full-service after-school youth activity center offering services that are designed to alleviate the burden of poverty and build a sense of resiliency that will help them archive success personally, academically, and professionally. LFLG is now located at 1415 Cass Avenue, serves over 440 youth each year, and provides over 30 different programs.
LFLG’s signature fitness program is the Olympic Style Youth weightlifting. The individuals on this team practice three to five times a week totaling over 4,120 hours each year. The team compiled 62 medals and trophies in 2015 and two of their elite lifters are ranked 4th and 6th in the country as youth (17 & under) athletes for the sport of weightlifting. The program continues to have much success and is an example of how to “Build Strong Minds and Strong Bodies.” LFLG recognizes the importance of physical health, but acknowledges mental health and development as just as essential. LFLG offers academic services such as one-on-one tutoring, homework assistance, college preparation classes, and a digital learning center.
Lift For Life Gym is located in one of St. Louis’ “urban food deserts.” Without a grocery store located within a minimum 5-mile radius, local youth not only lack money to buy affordable healthy food, but due to unreliable and unsafe transportation options, it becomes nearly impossible for inner city youth to gain access to quality food and establish healthy eating patterns. LFLG is dedicated to providing free, nutritious meals for its members daily, using fresh produce from their very own garden.
All of the programs are designed to build a better tomorrow for LFLG’s members. Life skills classes help develop practical lessons for living a productive, healthy life. In addition to “Strong Minds and Strong Bodies,” strong friendships are built within their walls. LFLG’s youth not only form friendships by working together, but also develop strong bonds with their mentors and coaches. Other mentoring services include life skills classes, college tours and job shadowing, social outings, and a teen transitioning program.
On May 6, 2017, Hochschild, Bloom and Company’s marketing partner, Jim Pursley, and his wife Samie, volunteered at the annual St. Louis Microfest, one of the premiere festivals in the St. Louis area. Microfest is a beer tasting festival that offers festival goers the chance to sample international and craft beers at 3 different session times over 2 days. The festival also includes live music, silent auction, food, live brewer, and chef demonstration. Profits from the festival went toward funding LFLG.
To learn more about LFLG, or to make a donation, please visit http://www.liftforlifegym.org/donate/.
Nonprofit Budgeting Essentials
By: Angela Dorn, CPA, Partner
Nonprofit organizations are often faced with a balancing act–striving to reach ambitious goals for their mission while dealing with the constraints of limited funding. In an effort to attract donors and achieve positive financial results, transparency is not only important, but it is imperative. One of the best ways to accomplish this task is to prepare an annual budget that is approved by the organization’s Board of Directors. But the process does not stop there: following the plan is key to success.
Anticipation of available resources can be difficult even in the best of times. Many dynamics beyond the control of the organization weigh into the outcome, such as the status of the economy. A conservative approach is often the best method for budgeting available resources. Several factors play into determining accurate revenue numbers. Expected donations from donors, grant opportunities, and capital campaign goals all play a role in developing the plan for funding. An additional consideration can be given to whether the organization has accessible fund balance or reserves that it plans to use in the current year.
By this time, fundraisers for the year should already be planned. The receipts the organization expects to raise needs to be compared to the costs of the events. These types of activities should support the nonprofit function rather than serve as distractions. Projected funds should include donations to be received at the events, as well as the amounts anticipated from ticket sales, raffles, auction items, etc. Then the amount these types of activities are expected to cost the organization should be examined to insure the fundraising events will be beneficial to the organization. Direct costs as well as indirect costs should be estimated at this point.
Once the available resources can be determined, the focus should switch to the expected use of the funds. Start with the bare minimums, such as the fixed costs. Many times this consists of payroll expenses of key employees, occupancy expenses, utilities, and insurance.
Then step back and take a look at the available funds left to directly support the mission. This is the amount to be expended on the program activities. Is there a goal to increase the reserves or are there projects that will require the use of reserves this year? What can be done to stretch the dollars for meeting the needs of the organization? The goal is to have the ability to adequately support the mission of the organization.
The next piece of the budget process would be to examine the expenses on a functional basis. The organization should have a written plan to define how it allocates shared expenses across program, management and general, and fundraising. Many donors look for this when making the decision to support the organization and they like to see their funds being used for the benefit of the mission.
After the budget is approved, the monitoring begins. Regular assessment of the organization’s actual results in comparison to the budget is as important as the preparation of the original budget. Throughout the year, if results are not lining up with the expectation, the plan should be reviewed and revised. Proposed amendments, if necessary, should be presented to the Board of Directors for approval. Knowing the financial goal and working to attaining it will go far in making the organization a success.