By Todd Cohen
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Seby B. Jones Family Foundation for years has given $1,000 to $5,000 annually to the Tammy Lynn Center in Raleigh.
This year, the foundation made a pledge to donate $300,000 over 10 years in addition to continuing to provide annual support at the level it has given in the past.
The nonprofit, which provides educational, residential and family support to children and adults with special needs, is asking its larger donors for long-term sustained support to help it cope with a growing gap between rising costs and flat Medicaid reimbursements, says Mary Freeman, president and CEO.
“The costs we experience related to staffing and medical supplies have been exceeding our reimbursement for several years,” she says.
The center for years delayed capital repairs and wage increases, and its employees have faced the double-whammy of rising health-care costs and declining health-care benefits, Freeman says.
That has made it tougher to keep staff and required greater investment in training, she says.
The flattening of reimbursements from Medicaid, which accounts for roughly 65 percent of its annual budget of $5.5 million, also has forced the center to reduce the number of families it serves to 350 families this year from 440 in recent years, Freeman says.
And the center, founded in 1969, has reduced its staff to 125 employees, all but a handful working full-time, from 150 six years ago, she says.
“We’re continuing to seek efficiencies,” she says.
To close the gap between costs and reimbursements, Freeman says, the center also has raised its goal for private fundraising to more than $642,500 this year from $425,000 last year.
Five years ago, annual fundraising totaled just over $132,500, or only 2.5 percent of what was then its annual budget of nearly $5.3 million
Private fundraising this year will represent 11.6 percent of the center’s annual budget.
The center’s board also has increased the goal for its annual fund drive to $40,000 from $25,000 it raised last year.
And for the past four to five years, the center has applied to the cost of operations all funds it raises through special events, or roughly $165,000 a year.
Revenue from special events previously had gone into the center’s endowment, which totals $1.3 million.
The center’s biggest event, Toast to the Triangle, will be held April 2 at Triangle Towne Center.
If the event nets at least $150,000, Freeman says, the center still will need roughly $129,000 to meet its goal for private fundraising this year.
To helped pay for essential capital expenses, the center in recent years has received big grants from The Duke Endowment in Charlotte and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem.
And to address its larger financial challenge, Freeman says, the center is counting on larger donors like the Seby B. Jones Family Foundation stepping up their support.
“What we hope to do,” she says, “is generate long-term sustained giving at higher levels.”