Serra Center

Fall-Winter 2014
Project Type
Fast track
Project Focus
Operations Review
Organization Type
Human Services


Serra Center’s mission is to provide dignity, respect, and choice for persons with developmental disabilities. The Center does this by providing daily living skills, support, and training to those they serve, in the home environment of their choice. Without the Center’s services, persons with developmental disabilities would be housed in state-run institutional facilities. Serra Center currently serves eighty-eight individuals residing in the homes and communities of their choice throughout Southern Alameda County.


In March 2014 Serra Center separated from its Missouri-based parent company of thirty-nine years. The spin-off was initiated by the parent organization whose view it was that the organizations under its ownership would be better served as independent, grass-roots efforts. This change has both eliminated many difficulties brought on by remote management and created certain challenges, notably related to facilities, funding and governance. Serra Center is operating close to the margin in all respects, with dependence on government funding and the absence of alternative sources of income resulting in a critical state with potential to impact the quality of its services.

Project Objectives

The Serra Center requested advice and counsel pertaining to expansion of their community outreach, fundraising, and investing efforts.

Key Recommendations

  • Hire a development executive to focus on attracting large donations; this should augment the work being done by the recently hired grant writer
  • Evaluate the opportunity to establish an endowment that can provide ongoing support for everyday operations
  • Investigate alternative investments to support an endowment and better manage increased investment from donors
  • Gather support services for establishing online community support, including upgrading organizational web site, email list, and social media presence

Final Report Outline

Review of financial management options

  • Education session on why developing an investment policy reduces risk, i.e. that leaving funds in a money market yields negative real returns
  • Discuss and review additional options for managing the organization’s funds
  • Discuss and review the potential for establishing an endowment

Marketing and outreach plan for attracting new donors

  • Review of fundraising needs and set of grant opportunities
  • Plan for establishing online presence to connect with individual donors
  • Provide a data set of prospective grant makers and list of resources for implementing an online presence