$17 million in 17 years for IOCP Sleep Out
In the end, the $1.95 million goal Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners set for the 2012 Sleep Out was just a little too high … but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to be thankful for.
The 2012 installment of the long-running campaign to combat homelessness and other housing issues, set a number of records and will go a long way toward assisting the estimated 1,700 families that will come to the Plymouth-based service organization for assistance in the next year.
“This year’s total is $1,909,809 … more than $100,000 more than last year, which had been our best ever,” IOCP Development Director Jill Kohler said. “This means help for 1,670 families who will come through our doors in the coming year. Truly amazing.”
The overall total was not the only Sleep Out record to fall in 2012.
On Nov. 15, IOCP took part in the annual “Give to the Max Day,” which is sponsored by GiveMN. During that 24-hour period, donors stepped up and pledged $510,664, which included $150,000 in matching funds from two large donors that didn’t figure into the final GiveMN tally.
While that number wasn’t enough to take home top honors in the friendly competition between Minnesota nonprofits and schools – Cretin-Derham Hall topped the list at $377,246 – it was enough to set the record for the largest single day of donations in the Sleep Out’s 17-year history.
Numbers like those are helpful to any nonprofit, but for IOCP the increased donation total couldn’t come at a better time.
The number of requests for assistance continues increasing as IOCP continues to expand. Prior to moving to its new Plymouth facility in 2011, the organization received approximately 1,500 assistance requests from its clients each year. Since the move that number has increased to an expected 1,700 in the next year.
“While the need has never been greater, this amazing community has set a high bar for stepping up when it matters most,” IOCP Executive Director LaDonna Hoy said prior to the campaign kickoff in November. “Now is one of those times. We need a homerun.”
And, despite the increased goal and dependence upon its donor base, IOCP officials remained hopeful throughout the campaign and thankful that so much money was raised in a little more than two months.
“I believe that I am always the one most surprised by the incredible generosity of people in this community,” Kohler said. “Even more important is their perseverance and willingness to stay with us, year after year, as we work together to change the odds for struggling families that are part of our community.
“Thanks to our devoted supporters, 2013 will bring help and hope for a better future to 1,670 wonderful families.”
With this year’s totals added to the previous 16 years, the Sleep Out has now brought in $17,082,092 – an average of just over $1 million per year. “An average of $1 million per year for 17 years … uhfda,” Kohler joked.
Her loss for words is probably a common reaction, as few people could have predicted that an effort with such humble beginnings could grow to something so large.
In 1996, Wayzata shoe repairman Bob “Shoebob” Fisher saw a need to provide Thanksgiving dinners for 100 families in the area. With a goal of $7,000, he set up a tent in his yard and took donations from community members, vowing to stay in the tent until he reached the goal. In just 14 days he surpassed that goal, bringing in $10,000. Through the process Fisher learned of the need for affordable housing and housing assistance in the area and made the campaign an annual event.
Each year the goal and donations increased, until it crossed the $1 million mark for the first time in a single year in 2003.
Eventually, Fisher’s role as far as a winter camper diminished as more people stepped forward to help. He still serves as one of the campaign’s chief motivators and cheerleaders.
Since 1979, IOCP has provided housing, food, transportation and job services to residents in Hamel, Long Lake, Medicine Lake, Medina, Minnetonka Beach, Orono, Plymouth and Wayzata.
For more information on IOCP or the Sleep Out go to iocp.org.