Securing a Local Fiscal Sponsor

“With a Little Help from our Friends”

By Steve Roper, Secretary/Treasurer, Yuba County Friends of Drug Court

Never discount the long standing reach and power of “friends” nurtured during your professional career. Weather retired or actively engaged in the midst of your careers your network of contacts remain a toolbox from which you can draw to solve seeming unsolvable challenges.

The Yuba County Friends of Drug Court had just such an experience when our journey began to locate a fiscal sponsor to support our efforts.  Founded in 2012 under the leadership of the Honorable Judge Deborah Givens, the Yuba County Friends of Drug Court Local Fund Advisory Board was quickly impaneled and over the course of six month put a successful structure in place to assist and support participants in our local Drug Court Program.

The task of locating a fiscal sponsor from the multitude of non- profit organizations in our community initially seemed to be an easy one for the group. Quickly however, we found the economic conditions facing all non-profits struggling with the changing economic climate made the task a seemly insurmountable challenge. With diminishing funding, shrinking grant opportunities, reduced donor bases and resulting staff reductions the requested assistance our Board sought from these organizations was impossible to extend.

Without exception, every non-profit organization contacted fully supported the vision and mission of our group but were unable to take on the extra work a fiscal sponsor was asked to carry. Thanks to the generosity of the Foundation and Dianne Marshall, short term fiscal sponsor support was extended to us to make it possible to fund raise and grant gifts to worthy drug court participants. An extra burden without a doubt but extended in the spirit of the shared mission of helping those committed to their journey of achieving a life free of addiction.

After a three year odyssey, success was found from our closest of friends. Over the last thirty tears many of our Board members had worked with Joan Hoss the former Director of Sutter-Yuba Mental Health. Now retired, but like many of us still engaged in community efforts, Joan had helped found Mental Health America, a non-profit established to assist and expand mental health programing in the Yuba-Sutter area. Joan was contacted directly and at her request Mental Health America was more than willing to provide the service we sought. With a vision not unlike our own, Mental Health America was the creation of a woman who was always able to find unique non- traditional solutions to problems.

Perhaps our journey would have been shorter and more successful if we had approached it from a relationship basis rather than using the more traditional organizational focus when we reached out for assistance.

To others who are forming Local Fund Advisory Boards within their communities, as you journey through the maze of organizational challenges look first through your toolbox of relationships for solutions. They are the individuals who make the organizations you seek assistance from work and undoubtably have traversed a few bad time with you in the past and are willing to travel a few with you in your current undertaking. Anything is possible with a little help from your friends.