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Finance Report: The Walls Project - Calendar Year 2023 Overview

 2023 marked a year of remarkable success for The Walls Project as we continued to expand our efforts to meet the evolving needs of our communities amidst the ongoing post-pandemic recovery. Throughout the calendar year, we achieved a total revenue of $1,519,000 and incurred expenses amounting to $1,533,000 resulting in a small financial loss.

Our diverse range of programs encompassed initiatives such as Baton Roots, (UrbanAg and Community Gardens), Futures Fund (Youth and Adult Workforce Development), OneRouge Coalition (Coalition addressing the nine drivers of poverty), Mural Arts (Murals, public installations, and place-making), and Community-Based Events (such as MLK Festivals of Service and Juneteenth Celebrations), each contributing significantly to our mission of community empowerment and transformation.


Revenue Mix: The Walls Project relies primarily on foundation and government grants (58%), in-kind donations (15%), service contracts (15%), and corporate sponsorships or contributions (7%) to sustain our operations. These funding sources require rigorous efforts in application writing, project execution, and reporting. Notably, individual donations constituted only 5% of our revenue in 2023, underscoring the importance of diversifying our funding streams.

Donations: In 2023, individual donations to The Walls Project amounted to 5% of our total revenue. This included three major donations exceeding $5,000, totaling $29,743, as well as board donations totaling less than $7,000. Additionally, we received over $42,000 from individual donors, highlighting the generous support from our community. Our Walls Insider monthly giving campaign attracted 14 individuals who contributed $8,600, demonstrating the impact of sustained donor engagement.

Expenses by Program: Our expenses in 2023 align closely with industry standards for non-profit organizations. Administration and Fundraising accounted for 19% of our annual expenses, while direct program activities constituted 81%. Baton Roots emerged as our largest program, representing 34% of annual expenses, followed by Public Art (18%), Futures Fund (14%), One Rouge Coalition (11%), and community-based Events (4%).

Projects and Programs: Throughout 2023, The Walls Project secured a total of 64 grants and projects, each requiring meticulous efforts in proposal writing, stakeholder engagement, compliance, and reporting. Despite our best efforts, we faced a rejection rate of approximately 60% for funding proposals, underscoring the competitive nature of grant acquisition. To sustain our operations, we estimated pursuing or submitting 160 grants or projects, with each grant requiring an average of 12 hours of internal capacity, translating to a cost exceeding $82,000 in grant writing and compliance efforts.

As we reflect on the achievements and challenges of 2023, we remain committed to our mission of empowering communities through art, education, and advocacy. Together, let us continue to build a brighter future for all.

About the Author

Thomas Donley (The Walls Project’s CFO and Regional Director to Colorado) Tom has over 15 years in nonprofit and NGO accounting, finance, and operating knowledge. Having started with the large regional CPA firm EideBailly LLP in Denver, Colorado, and specializing in nonprofit, government, and hospital financial audits before moving to Brussels, Belgium where I was the Finance Director for ILGA-Europe - Europe’s largest membership-based LGBTI organization. After moving to Louisiana and being introduced to The Walls Project, I served as Finance Directors for an International School, Coastal Restoration nonprofit, and served on many boards.

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