Generic Ministry — Year In Review 2015

Published March 3, 2016 by Don Leathe in News



February 25, 2016




The year 2015 saw significant progress in our fundraising capabilities as well as a focus on building awareness in the Needham community about Generic Ministry.

Our major initiatives were centered on development, awareness, a search for new storage facility and improvements in our website.

Officers for FY 2015:

President:                           Don Leathe

Vice President:                 Scott Muldoon

Treasurer:                           Kristin Neff

Clerk:                                    Rick Vincent

At Large:                              John Mark Thomas, Joe Hansjon, Leah Logan (who later resigned)


# of Clients Served:

~# for year 2015: = 4,000

Winter 2015:      20-25 (Tuesdays)              30 (Wednesdays)

Spring 2015:      50-60 (Tuesdays)               30 (Wednesdays)

Summer 2015:   60      (Tuesdays)               40 (Wednesdays)

Fall 2015:             30-40 (Tuesdays)              30 (Wednesdays)


We improved our organization’s flyer upon reprinting of ~500 of a new version which featured an improved formatted layout, colors, and clarified messaging, and logo. This was largely the result of a graphics designer friend of Kristen Collins who volunteered her skills as well as Kristen’s suggestions.

We also redoubled our outreach efforts by participating in the Needham 4th of July parade and joining the Needham Business Association and as a result of a presentation at the Needham Clergy’s Interfaith Association meeting.


We were very lucky in our chance meeting with Needham resident Kristen Collins who volunteered to be our first-ever development resource. Kristen offered to lead the Board through the process of developing our first ever development plan and then became that excellent and enthusiastic resource to help us implement much of it.  The overall goal was to develop a yearly cycle of repeatable fundraising and awareness activities which, in its first year was very successful.

The results were a ~60% increase in revenues (excluding foundation grants) in a year where expenses only increased by ~8%.  The major sources of revenue were as follows;

Fall fund drive:                           $7,000 (enough to fund ~100% of our total year expenses)

First Parish Needham (plate):  $700

Carter Memorial Methodist:   $500

Norwood Congregational:      $1,000

Thank you Christmas cards were sent during the holidays, we ran a GoFundMe campaign, and we received at $10,000 grant from a local foundation with the intent of serving as the basis for an endowment. Additionally we applied for (in 20160 and are awaiting a $7,500 grant from the Baptist Social Union philanthropy.

Storage Search:

We were informed in the late Spring 2015 that we would have to vacate our clothing, toiletries and sandwich storage from our 10 High Street 2-bay garage by sometime in the Fall.  To find a new location we were interviewed on the Needham and Newton cable channels where our appeal and interviews ran repeatedly. We created an 8 ½ x 11” flyer advertising our need and posted it in ~40 locations in Needham center and another ~10 locations in Needham Heights. Additionally we told every friend and acquaintance we knew, appealed in Craig’s List, Anna’s Attic, the Bellman, Facebook and talked with multiple realtors and the town of Needham all with no luck.

We connected with Carter Memorial Methodist church who offered space in their old garage as well as a location to park the van.  Their garage proved unworkable due to holes in the roof and walls, lack of lighting, dampness, lack of adequate space and the need to fund significant improvements.  We also investigated the offer from Mark’s Moving to drop a mobile storage unit somewhere, although we never found a location and the unit would come with limitations.  Eventually, in 2016, we secured clean, dry storage on Needham Street at EZ Storage.

Outstanding storage issues remain, however, as we now have our sandwich storage, van storage and clothing/toiletries storage all at different locations in Needham


We had a banner year of revenue growth, ~ a 60% increase, while growing expenses only ~ 8% all of which generated a surplus of incomes (excluding the $10,000 Foundation grant we received) of about $6,400.  This strong revenue growth is largely attributable to increasingly disciplined and successful fundraising efforts directed by our Development resource, Kristen Collins. Our limited expense growth is largely attributable to lower than historical garage rent, which is about to change.

This surplus included and allowed us to reserve $2,000 for the eventual replacement of the van.


We also applied for and received a $10,000 grant from a foundation which is not reflected in any of the above numbers, but is being treated as the basis for an endowment.


Web Site:

The Board voted at our late in the year November 2015 Operational meeting to engage with a for-fee support group to augment our volunteer web support resources. Also, late in the year Mick Provencher decided it would be best to move the hosting of our website from Brian King’s servers to a professional hosting organization which turned out to be  Mick paid for a multi-year hosting agreement with GoDaddy.


In the process of having the site moved between hosting facilities Denise Ethier found that we had to rebuild large portions of the website since those portions were lost during the move.  She rebuilt those portions, using WordPress and gave it an improved look and feel.



Kristin Neff continued to coordinate the Sandwich Brigade with help from Joan Benzie to great success employing a group of individual as well as organizational groups to register for frequent and infrequent sandwich making dates.

Other instrumental individuals and groups involved in the sandwich brigade included:

  • Christy Cocchi
  • Leslee Willitts @ St. George’s Church in Framingham
  • Joe Hansjon
  • Mardy Claus @ the Eliot School
  • Laura Hynes @ the Mitchell School

Relationships that helped us with clothing donations included;

  • Needham Community Council
  • Needham High School
  • First Parish in Needham
  • Miscellaneous individual donations.

Relationships that assisted us financially included:

  • Norwood Congregational Church who agreed to fund all van maintenance and expenses for the year as well as donated $1000 to us.
  • First Parish in Needham who donated ½ the Sunday plate collection for an entire month to Generic Ministry
  • The Marcus Foundation $1000
  • Network for Good (miscellaneous donations) $1700


Volunteer Staffing of Van:

This was an ongoing problem, especially as the year progressed and will be a key focus of the upcoming year, 2016.


Goals for 2015 (post-dated):

We focused on the 4 main goals, initiatives and projects during 2015, as follows:

  • Development and Fundraising
  • Storage replacement search
  • Web site enhancement, hosting move and engagement with for-fee support group
  • Increasing Generic Ministry Awareness in the Needham Community.