Are You Growing One Plant Or A Farm Full?

FarmThis year I am growing a cucumber plant.  Contrary to my reputation as the black-thumb killer of indoor plants, it is thriving.  I was staring at the 10+ flowers that promise fruit in amazement when it occurred to me that farming is like fundraising.  And I don’t mean in the, “tend it and it will grow” way.  Although that is true.

What I do mean is that I can cobble together advice from this garden store and that web site.   I can get the right soil for the containers, the right organic fertilizer for vegetables and I can remember to water them most days.  And that’s fine on a small scale.  But if you want anything substantial, anything that would feed a family or a sustain a nonprofit, you need an expert.

You can hire one, consult with one, go to school to become one, but you need an expert to thrive on a larger scale.

Continuing this metaphor, I would go as far as to say that if you are raising most of your money from a few time-consuming events and an appeal or two you are a home gardener.  If you are getting all that you need, then you are doing what works for your organization.  But, if your nonprofit is barely breaking even, it is time to expand by gaining a greater understanding of how development works.

In this economy it is easy to say that there is no money for more than the bare basics.  But, there is no money because you are only doing the basics.  An endless circle that needs an end point.

Consider these moves as potential next steps:

  • Solicit a funder or donors to help you pay for 2 years of a part-time development professional.
  • Take classes at a local university to sharpen your skills and enhance your professional skills.
  • Engage a skilled development professional who would volunteer to train you and your staff once a month with homework in between.
  • Find a funder or donors to help you hire a consultant for six months to help you chart the right path for your organization.
  • __________________________________________________(Fill in your idea here)

There are many ways to do it, but take the time now to determine where you want to head.  Indecision is a decision, but rarely to the benefit of an organization.

And for those of you out there who are also taking a foray into growing vegetables, I know a great gardening store if you are interested….