Tips to sustaining a Restorative Justice program, from the front line.

Lots of buzz lately about sustainability.  Whew, that makes me happy.  That means that necessary conversations are happening about how to keep restorative justice programs and services on-going.

I can tell you from the directors seat, here at St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice I am designing a game plan to keep our program going.  Some tips:

1.)Hungry dogs hunt harder.  Just read that phrase.  A three year $150,000.00 grant ends, I should have been doing more in year 2 to prepare.  I now realize that if I need to make up the $40,000.00 we aren’t getting next year, I need to be writing grants for about $80,000.00, maybe more.  I have checked my percentages of success and failure when it comes to applications, this analysis let me know, to be safe, I need to write for 50% more than what I might expect to get.  This gave me a target.  A specific measureable target.  That will help.  My tip – get a target.

2.)Rule of 3.  Non-profits have 3 revenue streams.  Fees, grants, donations.  Balance these three, beat the kettle for all these types of revenue.  Look at what you need.  Later today in a staff meeting, I am letting my co-workers know this, we need to see 55 more people in CSI classes (Controlled substance Interventions), we need 572 customers at Victim Impact Panels.  That’s what’s needed to make the budget income.  SCVRJP has 5 other sessions with fees, and we anticipate revenue from training sessions.  Again, clear indicators of what we need to come in.  Also focusing equally on these 3 different areas of revenue.

3.)Commit to the cause.  I love teaching at UWRF – I teach Into to Restorative Justice, I have the students in Circle every week.  I am going to take next semester off.  I need to commit my time the sustainability of SCVRJP.  I am hoping by leaving this joy, on the table (and the income) it will pay off.  I am going to ask my board to step up similarly and understand, we need bank!  As I’ve set my mind to this, I have had different ideas pop up.  Maybe a 40 for $40 theme, and a prize to the person who gets 40 people to donate $40.  I am hoping our annual fundraiser just rocks!  We need it to, last year was great, we need to make an even bigger splash.  Commit, commit to the cause.

4.) Remember abundance.  My final tip, is to operate out of abundance (there is enough for all of us) rather than scarcity (I need to get it before you).  A volunteer once stopped by and in passing said that SCVRJP is so important to the community they won’t let anything happen to it.  Wow, what a great thought.  If I start to operate from a point of fear, scarcity, oh no I might not have a job, then panic hits.  It does take a special person to run a non-profit, and the love of the mission out weighs the good sense to be in a stable job.  As the economy is now, no jobs have been stable anyway.  Remembering abundance takes trust.  I trust my board, I truse my community, my staff and my skills.

Hope these tips have helped, and if you get to the end of the rainbow, send me some gold!