Distilling the essence of your value to donors

Can you describe your work in terms of its human effects?

Fifth in a series about your case for support

I’ve done a lot of case development. One of my favourite results came several years ago in collaboration with the leaders at Moncton Youth Residences (YIJ), in Moncton, NB. They are some of my favourite people as well. (As of June 18 this year, YIJ changed its name to Youth Impact Jeunesse, the name used for the rest of this article.)

The newly-mined Youth Impact Jeunesse (YIJ) describes its mission follows: Youth Impact helps young people succeed by providing support and new opportunities. And their mandate now is: The purpose of Youth Impact is to provide quality care and guidance to youth between ten and twenty-four years of age who have social, emotional, and behavioral problems. The goal is to help youth and their families change or eliminate the conditions that have acted as obstacles to their success.

Their core business was always operating small group homes, primarily for children and youth with behavioural, family or related issues. Children are there usually by family court orders. 

In the late 1990s YIJ identified gaps in services and began offering various outreach programs, diversifying the mandate and moving beyond solely residential services.  Today the majority of these services operate out of the Youth QUEST Central building at 199 St. George Street in Moncton, NB, a building secured and renovated by YIJ through a capital campaign, to which we consulted.

YIJ had always operated almost entirely based on funds allocated by the Province of New Brunswick. But as YIJ identified gaps in services to which they could respond, and especially when the vision for a central service site, to be shared by YIJ and other agencies, to serve at-risk youth, the need to engage the community through fundraising was clear.

So was the need for some substantial case work, which they embraced with great energy and diligence. The very insightful and experienced staff really embraced the idea of making their case. As you might expect in a multi-site, multi-service organization, then with 100+ staff (now nearly nearly 200), the case was complex and the detail was daunting.

But when the grunt work was done, we had a solid result.

That was a decade ago. No doubt now Youth Impact Jeunesse will express some of this differently.  But the work they did then is still a great example of how a long and complex case gets distilled into a strong value proposition for donors.

Mel Kennah, Executive Director of Youth Impact Jeunesse and Associate Director Cathy Manuel display the new name and logo. Mel described the name change as "moving from emphasizing that the agency supports/takes care of youth to being an agency  that puts youth front and center as its reason for being." www.youthimpact.org

We started by defining the problem.


(short form) because too many children and youth are at risk for losing every opportunity and hope.
(long form)
YIJ exists because. . .

- too many families struggle to provide basic physical needs
- too many families have slipped below the threshold of care and nurture
- the skills of effective parenting, if never learned, cannot be used
- too many parents are living out what they learned as children
       and the habits of violence and neglect are passed on from parent to child
- too many parents have been overwhelmed.

YIJ exists because. . .

the horizons of adults determines the future of children and so . . .

- too many children suffer neglect and abuse
- too many children live in fear
- too many children have no safe place
-too many youth are disconnected from family and community, and so . . .

too many children and youth are at risk for losing every opportunity and hope.

Then we moved to WHAT DOES YIJ DO?

YIJ Inc.
– intervenes to stop the downward spiral in the lives of children, youth and parents
– introduces people to the ways and means for change
– invests skill, time and energy in their transition
– inspires people to press forward to a conclusion.

We also wanted one idea to summarize the effect of YIJ over time.

YIJ moves people!

From                 To

Hostility            Dialogue
Violence           Self- Restraint
Blindness          Insight
Desperation       Decisions
Passive             Active
Deflection          Responsibility
Repetition          Renewal
Helplessness     Effectiveness

From there, YIJ infiltrated its web site, annual report, and major gift literature with some of these concepts and started capitalizing on the hard work they did to develop their case for support.

I’m a fan. Maybe I should put my money where my praise is. So, chequebook or online donation?  

-- Larry Matthews