Fund-raising problems force closing of two charities

Reliance on telemarketers, mailings noted as factors in demise of one group

June 22, 2005|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Dwindling public dollars and charitable contributions have led to the demise of the Center for Poverty Solutions and the Maryland Center for Community Development, according to officials of both groups.

Trudy P. McFall, former board chairwoman of the Maryland Center for Community Development, said the organization is working with local foundations to try to cover some of its outstanding debt.

Officials of the Maryland Food Bank and Health Care for the Homeless said those groups will take on some of the services that the Center for Poverty Solutions performed, including feeding the poor and doing advocacy work.

"When most organizations make the difficult decision to close their doors, their missions fade away," Bill Ewing, executive director of the Maryland Food Bank, said in a statement released yesterday. "Fortunately, this collaboration ... will maintain the focus on alleviating hunger and homelessness in Maryland."

This year, volunteers from the Center for Poverty Solutions conducted a census to determine the extent of homelessness in Baltimore. The Maryland Center for Community Development focused on stimulating neighborhood investment in affordable housing and economic development.

Howard M. Weiss, chairman of the board of directors of the Center for Poverty Solutions, said yesterday that the group had relied on raising money through direct mailings and telemarketing. "That is not a very good way to raise money anymore," he said.

He said the group's board considered other ways to create a more stable income source but that those plans did not materialize in time to save the organization.

Weiss said very few charitable donors want to give money that can be used for operational expenses such as rent and staff salaries, and that federal grants often can't be used for anything but specific outreach programs. That left the organization in a bind.

The Maryland Center for Community Development had been struggling for several months. Becky Sherblom, the group's former executive director, left at the end of February.

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