query: Research on How Organizing "Saves Money"
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Wed Dec 3 07:36:33 CST 2003
[ed: thanks to Randy, Jim, and Ann for replying to Mike's query,
From: Ranmyiccs at aol.com
One of the ways your organization appears to save the community
money is in the sweat equity of your volunteers. Having the people do
the work themselves tends to eliminate, or at least, minimize the need
for professionals who do cost money. In our DHS reports which we fill
out for our organizing efforts here in IL we are required to figure
volunteer hours at $12.75/hour (which is pretty close to what community
organizers are paid!).
I remember working with Room-in-the-Inn in Nashville, TN. Our
director, Fr. Strobel, figured all the utilities, donated food, and
transportation as well as volunteer hours provided by the participating
congregations serving the homeless. I can't recall the amount, it was
ten years ago, but it exceeded the budget of a couple "rescue"
Anyway, that might be one way of substantiating a dollar figure.
Illinois Coalition for Community Services
Hillsboro Field Office
From: "Jim Powell (Northside Planning Council)"
<npc at msn.fullfeed.com>
We've shown funders that we have directly mobilized financial
resources because of their funding, Thus their funding leverages more
financial resources for the community. The funders' investment is in
leadership development, community organizing and building. Outcomes
can be measured by accomplishments of the community: a new
community center, creating a community-owned park and community
gardens, expanding a public library, turning around a challenge
elementary school, etc., rather that just participation outcomes (such as
meetings attended, forums held, etc.).
I think you can make the case that a self-organized community isn't a
drain on the community, but rather an asset, so in this way it's "saves
Facilitator, Northside Planning Council
Editor, Northside News
1202 Northport Dr, Rm 300, Madison, WI 53704
608.242.6338 phone; 608.242.6256 fax; npc at msn.fullfeed.com
From: Ann and Timothy Curry-Stevens <echobay at sympatico.ca>
The thoughts that come to mind are initially in the area of participatory democracy and citizenship learning. While I
don't know of any research that quantifies the benefits from civic engagement, I think you could aptly profile the
significant costs of social exclusion and democratic deficits. I anticipate that these would include items such as wasted
government spending when they don't understand community needs, political decision-making costs (such as commissions and
consultations) that are associated with political leaders who are out-of-touch with communities and the long term effects
of social exclusion - where job insecurity and low income result in grave social costs later on (in terms of low
educational outcomes for their children and correlated welfare, health and incarceration spending).
You might also connect the literature on the social determinants of health - whereby poverty and racism are shown to limit
life expectancy and increase the likelihood of living with costly disabilities later in life.
There is also new research on social auditing whereby organizations can account for the financial benefits of all that
they do - such as including volunteer hours at a costed basis. Look for a new book by Quarter, Mook and Richmond on this
topic. The overall impact of this project is for NGOs to illustrate the value for the grants received.
As I'm sure you know, there is a problem embedded in projects that increase the property values of the communities as many
low income earners can no longer afford to live there.
PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
> From: "Mike Hodge \(NRC\)" <mhodge at tnrc.net>
> Dear COMM-ORG,
> I'm writing today to pick your collective brain. I work for an
> agency that helps neighborhoods to organize and make progress on
> problems that they identify. We are a non-profit and get a large
> part of our funding from a particular funder. In their
> application this year, the funder wants to know of any "national,
> state, local and/or programmatic research to demonstrate how
> [our] services save the community money."
> I personally think this is the wrong question. It should be
> "research that shows this work has an impact on neighborhoods."
> HOWEVER, for the purposes of the application to our funder, I
> need to find some *research* that shows we are saving the
> community money. Our work is basically (1) helping neighborhood
> groups to organize and make progress, (2) providing leadership
> training in how to organize and how to make use of city
> departments, and (3) providing information services (crime,
> census, health data, land use, etc) -- usually in the form of GIS
> maps. So any research that might show all this "saves the
> community money" would be appreciated.
> I think some anecdotal analysis of property values could be done,
> saying that an increase in property values follows much
> successful organizing, and therefore this adds to the tax base.
> Randy also suggested to me several ways that we might attempt to
> figure up our impact on this community in dollar amounts (Thanks,
> Randy). This can certainly be done, but I thought I'd e-mail the
> gurus (that's YOU folks). So does anyone know of actual RESEARCH
> that shows that neighbors getting organized and taking action
> "saves the community money"?
> Many thanks!
> Mike Hodge <mailto:mhodge at tnrc.net> mhodge at tnrc.net
> P.O. Box 100941
> 14 Academy Place; Suite 2
> Nashville, TN 37224-0941
> Phone 615-782-8212 Ext. 26
> FAX 615-782-8213
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