For 10 years, the Costa Mesa-based nonprofit Talk About Curing Autism – or TACA – has been connecting families with much-needed services and providing an array of programs aimed at offering education and support. And in 2007, just as the nation began feeling the pinch of the worst economic decline since the Great Depression, TACA expanded its reach across the country. We asked Lisa Ackerman, TACA executive director, to share some of the group’s secrets for success.
OC METRO: What’s your group’s biggest fundraising tool?
LISA ACKERMAN: When our families share their trials, tribulations and successes, it inspires and motivates others to help and support TACA. TACA has never received any government funding. We are fortunate to have the financial support of individuals, businesses and corporations across the country. Many of our corporate dollars are raised via general donations and grants. In some cases, an employee will have a child diagnosed with autism; thus they will use that as a catalyst within their company to solicit support.
OCM: Have you had to cut back on any services or programs due to the economy?
LA: Some agencies we work with have cut back on services, such as The Autism Spectrum Disorder Teen Support Groups. The program was implemented by TACA in 2006 and has proved to be helpful to families. In 2009, due to lack of funding, this program had to be cut. We are now working to find alternative sources so we can reinstate this and other programs. TACA’s executive board also made a decision to utilize some of our financial reserves to meet the enormous increase in the number of families that need our help during these challenging economic times.
OCM: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the nonprofit world?
LA: There are two: providing real-life examples of what your mission accomplishes and what would happen if your foundation was not there to carry it out; and recognizing the benefits of marrying nonprofit expertise and good business practices. I am hopeful that operating more like a business would entice business leaders to become more involved in the nonprofit world.