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Growing Business With BlueVine: Ella’s Foundation

THE CLIENT: Ella’s Foundation

Two years ago, Ronnie Cansler, executive director of Ella’s Foundation, was at his wit’s end. He needed funding for his Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization, which provides housing and a support system for men in transition.

In operation since 2006, Ella’s Foundation pays homage to Cansler’s mother, the late Ella Craine, who first opened her home and heart to men in need more than 40 years ago. Today, Ella’s Foundation operates two renovated homes with 40 beds. It services homeless adult males, as well as veterans, those aging out of foster care, and men seeking a second chance after incarceration.

“It’s a tough business. It’s not for everyone. Our motto is to get them back on their feet and put them back in society, where they can be fathers again,” says Cansler.

What the Business Needed

Funding to meet payroll and operational expenses

Running Ella’s Foundation is expensive and Cansler, along with the program administrator Dedra Dixon, needed funding to meet payroll for its 15 employees.

It also had stacks of bills to pay for office rent and utilities. On top of this, the organization had mounting expenses for food and clothing for the men, ages 18 to 65, living temporarily in its two houses.

“A lot of people depend on us, and we have a reputation of showing our employees that this is a stable place to work,” says Dixon.

A lender willing to help a non-profit

At the end of the day, a nonprofit like Ella’s Foundation still operates like any other business, with bills to pay and obligations to meet. It also has its share of vendors, including government agencies. Nonetheless, Ella’s Foundation could not get a business loan at a traditional bank.

“We needed funding for working capital, yet traditional lenders saw us as a non-profit and did not want to take a chance with us,” says Dixon.

So, Cansler and Dixon started searching the Internet to see if they could find another type of lender that would extend financing to Ella’s Foundation.

How BlueVine Helped

Fast funding

That initial Internet search led them to BlueVine. The online lender looked too good to be true, but Ella’s Foundation needed an immediate cash infusion.

“We had to do something,” says Cansler, adding that they were using money from savings to stay afloat.

Cansler and Dixon recall the day they contacted BlueVine. It was a Friday, their payments were late, and they had to meet payroll. They submitted the foundation’s financial information right away and applied for a $23,000 line of credit – the exact amount they needed. On Monday morning, they got the best news ever: they were approved for a $25,000 line of credit – more than they asked for. They received the funding that same week.

“BlueVine was a godsend,” says Cansler.

Financial security

When Cansler and Dixon first tapped into their BlueVine line of credit, they felt something they hadn’t experienced for a very long time: a sense of financial security.

“We knew we could now pay our employees and meet our business obligations. We had a sense of security and less stress,” says Dixon.

Flexible financing

Cansler says flexible funding options available through BlueVine have been instrumental in helping Ella’s Foundation meet its financial needs.

While it initially only used a credit line, today Ella’s Foundation mainly uses invoice factoring to finance its ongoing operations. In fact, the foundation’s goal is to pay down its line of credit as invoice factoring is a better and faster way to receive payments on invoices, says Cansler.

Factoring helps “keep the cash flowing” as Ella’s Foundation often waited up to 90 days to receive payment on vendor invoices, says Cansler.

Time to grow

With BlueVine at its side, Ella’s Foundation can expand and roll out new services to its housing community, including computer training, art programs, creative writing classes and music workshops, says Cansler. If all goes well, he says the organization hopes to add 20 more beds in the near future.  

Loyalty goes a long way

Cansler thinks of BlueVine as not only a lender, but a true partner. Anytime Ella’s Foundation needs financial support or guidance, Cansler and Dixon know they can reach out to the customer service team at BlueVine.

More importantly, BlueVine has stuck by Ella’s Foundation for two years – through all its ups and downs. This loyalty means the world to Cansler.

“If a bigger bank came to me, I would still keep BlueVine,” he says.

About Growing Business With BlueVine

Our clients grow with us. They use BlueVine financing to address everyday funding needs and to pursue opportunities to take their business to the next level. This series aims to highlight the stories of small and medium-sized businesses that have grown and continue to grow with BlueVine.

 

This article was first published on June 12, 2018. It was updated on