The General Problem With Project Grants

George W. Sarris
Christian Herald Association
New York, NY

Thank you for the article in the April 2002 edition (“General Support? Sounds Nice, But …”). I work in the foundations area at Christian Herald Association. We oversee the work of The Bowery Mission and Kids With a Promise in New York City.

What you have said about the importance of giving to general support is so true. So many foundations want to give to “new, innovative” programs, which generally never work because they are untried experiments. If by chance they do actually work, they are often doomed because the foundations only want to sponsor the programs for one year. Since other foundations also want something “new and innovative,” the first program gets left out in the cold because it no longer fits that description.

Programs that do work are the ones that are tested by time and have endured. If the foundations want to know if their money is being spent wisely, they need only look at the overall effectiveness of the organization.

The Bowery Mission Transitional Center (one of our ministries) is funded by general support from the city and state of New York. Because we can focus on doing what we do best without worrying about creating “new, innovative” programs, we have been the No. 1 performing substance abuse center in the City of New York for the last five years.
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