In my eight years at DBSA, and sixth as its President, I continue to be overwhelmed by the amazing power of the peers I have the pleasure to meet, work with, and serve. These are people who have shared similar days: when the prospect of engaging with life was too much to consider, days when my experience with a mood disorder propelled me towards extraordinary accomplishments, and most days, when my mental health doesn’t even rank among my top five challenges—days when I am simply Allen. Each story, each encounter, inspires, informs, and compels me to work to change the conversation about mental health from danger and drain to collaboration and contribution.
Mirroring our 2016 We Are Powerful campaign, DBSA had a powerful impact in 2016! Thanks to our generous investors, passionate volunteers, and talented staff, DBSA expanded our reach by nearly 14% in 2016 to touch the lives of more than 4.1 million people; in just the second year of our chapter enhancement plan, 97% of DBSA support group participants would recommend their group to others; DBSA represented the voice of people living with mood disorders on two White House panels; in partnership with other leading mental health advocacy groups, DBSA helped to promote new images of people living with mental health challenges through the creation of the Be Vocal Getty Images library; and our launch of the DBSA Peer Leadership Center has already given more than 2,000 peer specialists and supporters a place to network and learn. These are just few highlights of DBSA’s impact in 2016. Many more are featured in the Our Work section of this report, on our Highlights Timeline, and in our 2016 Annual Impact Report.
I’m also thrilled to share that in 2016, DBSA achieved a four-star rating on Charity Navigator and Platinum rating on Guidestar. But I am not thrilled to share with you that, despite our powerful achievements in 2016, we unfortunately experienced a significant operating deficit, our first in many years. Our strong strategic plan, financial position, and energized and enhanced development program mean that we will weather this storm just fine. Nevertheless, this showcases a vulnerability DBSA faces and demonstrates that consistent and growing investments from our loyal community are more crucial than ever.
Indeed, DBSA is not just an organization, it is diverse community made up of thousands of individuals committed to improving one life at a time and to creating a future where everyone has the opportunity to find the hope, help, and support they need in order to lead thriving lives. Each individual who gives of their time, talent, and treasure are vital to our mission. I hope that you will continue to invest in DBSA, remembering that your generosity impacts each person, each story, each life touched by depression and bipolar disorder.
Allen Doederlein, President