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Saturday, October 16, 2004
GOOD PROBLEMS TO HAVE

It's official! Act One will be moving to new offices in December and January.

We have been most kindly housed and nurtured in our first six year by the amazing faith community at Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Last year, it became clear that we were growing well-beyond the ability of the church to keep ceding us "just one more office" and just a little bit more administrative support. Everyone kept saying, "These are good problems to have." So, we formed a Board and filed the papers to become a separate non-profit 501c3 and started looking for our next home.

It's not completely in solid rock, so I will wait a few days till it is to tell you all about the great new place God has prepared for us. But, I want to take a moment here to marvel over how far we have come as an organization in just a couple years.

This past year since getting the 501c3 has been about all the organizational details of moving from being a neat little church sub-ministry into being an independent, sustainable corporate entity. I feel like I have earned an honorary MBA with all of the new stuff that I've had to learn just to make this transition.

We needed mission and vision statements, articles of incorporation, corporate bylaws and personnel policies all of which had to be processed through attorneys and various state and federal offices. We had to draw up long-term budgets, short term budgets, and essentially break down every frickin thing we do into a separate entity with its own budget for fundraising. In the last nine months I have learned the difference between a balance statement and a P&L, and have learned that Boards need to see projected budgets quarterly, and how they match up to YTD Actuals.

We have had to hire accountants and a payroll company, get our own bank and creditcard accounts, bulk mail and postal accounts. We had to get health insurance, liability insurance, Directors and Officers insurance and workers comp. In practical terms, running a non-profit for me means quarterly meetings of the Board of Directors, alternating monthly meetings of Writing and Executive program Advisory Boards, and weekly staff meetings.

The most ulcer causing of all the good problems we are lucky to have, has to do with rasing the funds to match our amazing growth. Since Act One was founded, we have moved from being a one and a half person show, to having a staff of 7 full-time, 2 part-time, and a slew of others with whom we contract out work seasonally. Our annual budget has grown exponentially to about six times what it was when we first started up. People keep assuring me that lots of people "out there" will want to support this great thing we're doing, but so far, the hoards of willing check writers haven't exactly been beating our door down. People tell me that we don't ask for help enough.

So, I'm making a point of asking now. This move is the next essential step if Act One is going to be able to meet the demands of our ever expanding alumni network - now 300 strong, as well as add the new programs that everyone seems to be insisting we absolutely must get off the ground. We will be training writers and executives this coming year. Soon, we want to start training producers. Then, directors. And maybe actors.

In terms of fitting out our new offices, we need everything. All of the stuff we have was donated to us when we were owned by the church. Technically, it belongs to them. Besides the fact that we are moving from a space of about 650 square feet to nearly 3000. Beyond desks and chairs, we need to acquire our own computer server and network. I just got the first bid for another good new problem to have - our own phone system in the new building - brace myself - $12,000.

The good news is, we can give tax deductions! (Yeah, what a neat thing to be able to do!) If you are able to help us out - or would like to refer a kindly millionaire who would be amenable to helping us heal the culture - we have set up a page on our website here with some of our immediate needs as we make this next step. It's set up as a Christmas/housewarming list. Buy us a desk - get good kharma and a tax deduction!

You can send a check too. Send to:
Act One, 1763 N Gower St., Hollywood, CA 90028

THANK YOU, if you can help with funds. THANK YOU for any prayers you can send our way. It's scary and exciting being in God's grip...