Teen Voices is Closing Down Operations
Letter from Teen Voices Board of Directors:
Dear Teen Voices community,
I am writing to inform you that the Board of Directors has made the very difficult decision to cease operations of Teen Voices, Inc. effective August 31, 2012, while we pursue partnerships with other organizations who may assume all or some of the programs that Teen Voices provides to girls. We have found that, due to financial and organizational deficits, Teen Voices can no longer exist as an independent entity. The Board of Directors made this decision in the context of the financial circumstances and what would be in the best interest of Teen Voices and the girls that it serves.
As a small non-profit, our financial situation has always been a challenge. However, we had managed to meet or slightly exceed our financial expectations every year. In July of 2011, we lost our long-time executive director. Unfortunately, we were not successful in finding a permanent replacement. In addition, Teen Voices continued to feel the impact of a tough economy, resulting in diminishing individual and corporate support. Donations and grants decreased by over $300,000 from the previous year while expenses remained constant. In June 2012, several significant grants were not renewed, which quickly reduced our planned revenue stream for fiscal year 2013. At this point, we were projecting to run out of money by the end of July 2012. After much deliberation, advice from counsel, and assessment of alternatives, we determined that Teen Voices could no longer operate as a stand-alone agency.
This is a significant loss for teen girls in Boston and around the world. We did not want to make this decision, but by closing operations and continuing to search for partners, Teen Voices has positioned itself to live on in some form or fashion well into the future. We are currently in discussions with several organizations that are interested in such a partnership. The Board of Directors will update the community as soon as we know the outcome of these sessions.
I know that many of you are shocked and saddened by this news. To that end, I want to share more details in a Q&A format to help you better understand the challenges of the situation:
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Q: Is the decision final?
A: Yes, unfortunately there are no funds to continue the programs as they currently exist after August 31, 2012.
Q: Why did this happen so quickly?
A: The organization is small and has always struggled with funding in the July-December time frame. This year, with the lower fundraising results from individual gifts, grants, and event funding, combined with unexpected leadership transition expenses, the Board of Directors determined in late June that there was not enough operating cash and reserves to sustain the organization.
Q: Why didn't you do more fundraising?
A: The organization launched a more strategic fundraising effort in June. However, while the new efforts had begun to reengage donors and reach out to some new foundation opportunities, there was not enough time to generate enough cash to support continued operations after August 31, 2012.
Q: What happened to the staff?
A: Teen Voices could not have provided the transformational programs without its dedicated and committed staff. The Board of Directors shared the sad news with the staff and provided them job counseling.
Q: Are you bankrupt?
A: No. The Board of Directors felt it was important to close the organization prior to running out of resources. They have worked to meet current obligations with vendors to assure all current liabilities are paid.
Q: Did someone mismanage or steal money?
A: No. The financial practices were strong with professional management. It was simply an issue of less funding and more expenses during a tough economic period for the community.
Q: What happened to the funds that were raised as part of the emergency campaign?
A: The generosity of donors allowed us to provide a full and rich learning experience to the girls who were part of the summer journalism and leadership program through their graduation in August. They received workforce development experiences, participated in writing workshops, were mentored by an amazing team of college interns, and developed material for publication as a normal summer class would complete.
Without these funds, we might not have been able to offer this experience to the girls.
Q: Can I contribute to Teen Voices' transition after August 31, 2012 to show support of the program partnership process?
A: We are solidifying our plans for the transition and will reach out to gather support and volunteers. If you would like to help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If a partner commits and is adopted by the board, we hope that donors will support the transition and the partner's efforts to continue the mission of Teen Voices.
Q: What is the possibility of a partnership?
A: There is a team of volunteers working on partnership opportunities. There are some strong supporters of the work of Teen Voices in the community. In addition, the National Advisory Board for Teen Voices has pooled their network resources to support the development of opportunities for program continuation.
These conversations take time. If a good match is developed, then the Board of Directors will transition the program materials to a partner to re-launch the Teen Voices program under another organization's umbrella.
Q: Why not re-launch as Teen Voices?
A: Unfortunately, it is not a sustainable program model. For a small program, the cost of overhead and providing all the necessary accounting, fundraising, and management support is too high.
Under the umbrella of another organization, these costs may be spread over a larger asset base. Sharing resources (such as space and utilities) would make operating the Teen Voices program more economically feasible and efficient.
Also, partnerships that result in a more lean and efficient nonprofit, while still offering program value and impact, are often better received by donors and other funding sources.
Q: What will happen to Teen Voices magazine?
A: Teen Voices magazine will no longer be published. If a partner would like to re-launch the magazine, they will be provided with the framework of the magazine structure and the advertising plan, vendor resources, and mailing list.
Q: What will happen with Teen Voices' website?
A: Teen Voices website will be updated with new content/articles until August 31, 2012. After that point, it may be maintained by volunteers. However, if a partnership is not developed, the website maintenance fees that were prepaid annually will eventually expire and the website will shut down. If a partnership is developed, the management of the website and Teen Voices social media can be transferred to that partner.
Q: Who makes the decision on a partnership?
A: The volunteer Board of Directors has final authority to determine how a partnership is developed and what potential partners match the mission and values of Teen Voices. A volunteer committee that is passionate about continuing the work of Teen Voices will support the Board of Directors in its research and relationship development.
Q: What if a partner is not found?
A: The board will take the required legal and financial action to dissolve the organization within six months of August 31, 2012, if a partnership is not completed.
Teen Voices has valued your commitment, support, and passion for the girls and their work. We are hopeful that we can partner with another organization and continue amplifying the voices of teen girls and young women all over the world.
Charles E. Carter, Jr., Ph.D., LICSW
Chair, Board of Directors
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