April 1, 2009

Changes today at Bread for the City

Starting today, Bread for the City will close to client services on Fridays, and our salaries will take cuts (10% for staff, 12% for managers).

As our executive director George Jones said in his statement:

Bread for the City entered this recession in a position of relative strength: our sources of funding are as diversified as possible, thus affording critical insulation from economic turbulence. But we are not immune to the downturn. In particular, we struggle with the rising costs of operation: essentials like health care and food prices are placing great strains on our budget.

With great deliberation, our board and staff have decided upon a course of action that will minimize the short-term impact of this crisis, while positioning ourselves for long-term growth. To sustain our high levels of service, our staff and management will make sacrifices.

You can read the entire statement here, and the specific schedule changes for each of our programs here.

For our clients, this means there will be some additional time to visit our programs during Monday through Thursday, while Fridays are now closed.

For staff, it means our workweek is partially furloughed -- an organizational move that is increasingly common, and maybe not necessarily always such a bad thing, as the New York Times reported recently.

From our donors, clients, and the community at large, reaction to this plan has been broadly positive. Still, I heard George refer to the plan at one point as "a painful irony," since we have to make these changes even while ever more people in our community are coming to need these services.

But the most important thing to keep in mind is that we've calculated these moves so that our capacity to provide services during this time of scarcity can be maintained, even while we pave the way for major growth in the very near future. I'm not sure that the old "best defense is a good offense" line can neatly apply here, but it will suffice.

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